You may have heard that using a dummy can get in the way of breastfeeding. But is that true, or is it just a myth?
After working with more than 17,000 newborns in my long career as a midwife and lactation consultant, here’s my advice to you:
Unless your baby was born prematurely, I recommend you steer clear of pacifiers in the first 4-6 weeks. And here’s why:
Why You Shouldn’t Use A Pacifier In The First 4-6 Weeks
A young baby can suck for a maximum of about 15 minutes before they get tired and need a break. Which means that even 5-10 minutes sucking on a dummy can tire a baby under 6 weeks out.
So, if you let your baby suck on a pacifier before a breastfeeding session – you are setting yourself up for trouble.
Because even five short minutes of sucking on a dummy before breastfeeding can leave the muscles of your baby’s jaw so tired… your baby won’t be able to extract milk property from the breast!
And that’s where things get really dicey. Because what does a tired, hungry, frustrated baby do? They cry, of course!
So now you’re holding a frustrated, tired, fussy baby. They won’t feed. They won’t sleep. What do you do?
Well, what most mums do – is give the baby the pacifier again!
It’s a natural instinct. And within that moment – it usually helps, too! But here’s the problem.
Yes, the baby eventually falls asleep. But since it’s sleeping on a stomach that’s far from full – this sleep session will be short and light. And when the baby wakes up…
… they wake up more tired and more cranky than ever!!
The only way to break this cycle? Not let the pacifier tire your baby out before they are fed! So if you absolutely need to use a dummy, here’s what I recommend:
How to use a pacifier (without interfering with your breastfeeding) when your baby is under six weeks old:
- Feed First – Dummy Last!
During the first few weeks, every time your baby wakes – no matter how soon after the last feed – it is best to feed first!
Baby’s up? Go to the breast and follow the steps of this feeding plan
- Before The Dummy – Can Your Baby Fall Asleep?
When you follow my feeding plan, your baby will settle after a short pat, and more often than not will just go off to sleep.
- Baby Won’t Settle?
If your baby doesn’t settle within a few minutes, and after you’ve fed them on both sides, you can confidently give the dummy a go!
Wrap your baby and use the dummy to help them settle.
- Don’t Place It Back In!
Once your baby settles, take the dummy out and put it aside.
Don’t keep placing the dummy back in!
If your baby won’t settle and you need to keep putting the dummy back in – the baby is probably still hungry! Put aside the dummy, and follow the steps I explain here in the “What To Do If Your Baby Does Not Go To Sleep” section)
Remember, managing a newborn baby is a balancing act. It’s all about getting the things that need to be done (feeding, changing the diaper, etc.) – before they tire out.
That’s the key for content, well-fed, sleeping babies. If you stick to that you probably won’t even need a dummy! (Again, I recommend following this feeding plan to make this as easy and natural as possible for you.)
What About Using Dummies After The First 4-6 Weeks?
I’m not a huge fan of dummies and pacifiers, but then again – I’m not there in the middle of the night when you’re tired out of your mind and your little bundle of joy won’t stop crying!
So here’s what I recommend.
With every day passing beyond the first six weeks, your baby will have more and more energy. As this happens, dummies may very well become your close friends!
Beyond the first six weeks, and as long as you offer the pacifier after your baby has fed, there shouldn’t be any problem.
“My Baby Can’t Live Without The Dummy!! What Should I Do?”
If your baby just can’t live without their dummy –– then you need to look at what else is going on. I recommend following this feeding plan and making sure you’ve got a good latch by using Loretta’s 7 Simple Steps For A Perfect Latch.
If that’s doesn’t help, don’t hesitate to contact me for personalised support! Give me a call (or text me) at 0414 403 208 and together we will figure it all out!
P.S. I DO recommend dummies for premature infants (born before 37 weeks)
Here’s why: The “tire out” effect that applies to babies that are carried to term doesn’t apply to premature babies – because they are tube fed. And here, a dummy gives you an advantage:
Giving premature babies a dummy helps them learn to suck while having tube feeds. And when it’s time to go home – that’s when you replace the dummies with real breastfeeding! 🙂