Can breastfeeding and soothers work together?
Breastfeeding and soothers...there is a lot of conflicting advice regarding the use of soothers in a breastfed baby. This can make it difficult for mothers to know whether or not they are doing the right thing by allowing their baby to use one.
At the end of the day the decision must be an informed personal choice, although many health professionals advise against the use of soothers for breastfed babies before the age of six weeks. The reasoning behind this is that it can cause 'nipple confusion' meaning the baby gets confused about the sucking technique required for each and tends to favour the soother over the breast if he is always sucking on a soother between feeds. The same applies to combined bottle/ breastfeeding. As a result, this can lead to mothers quitting breastfeeding prematurely as their baby gets frustrated on the breast when hungry and cannot achieve the correct sucking technique. (Sucking on a breast requires a lot more effort on the baby's behalf and a different technique to get milk than sucking on an artificial teat.)
On the other hand, soothers can be very beneficial in some instances, especially if the baby is using his mother as a soother, or if she needs to leave the baby for short periods of time.
If you do decide to use one, you should always offer the breast first. Then, if you feel that the baby is just comfort sucking and not drinking you can try to introduce the soother, if necessary. Some babies adapt well, others refuse to entertain the idea! (In my own experience two of my babies would not take one and one child became very attached to hers.)
On a more positive note, soothers are believed to aid colic pains - the constant sucking action is supposed to help ease the associated pain and move the wind along.
Do not worry that your baby will be hungry when he is sucking his soother. A hungry baby will almost always refuse to take a soother instead of a breastfeed! He may suck it frantically and then spit it out because it is not satisfying his hunger.
Don't soothers cause problems?
There is concern amongst some health professionals that speech and teeth can suffer as a result of allowing a baby to use a soother. You can help avoid problems by:
- only buying orthodontic soothers
- only using the soother as required
- removing it when the baby is settled
- not automatically replacing it in your baby's mouth when he lets it fall out
When the child begins talking encourage him to remove the soother when he is speaking as this will help to avoid speech problems.
Remember that sucking on a soother or teat requires a different technique to sucking on the breast, so problems can occur.
If you do choose to introduce a soother or to supplement breastfeeds with a bottle - whether expressed breastmilk or formula - remember to sterilise all equipment thoroughly until the baby is approximately six months old.
Treat Yourself to Me Time!
Or, if you're currently struggling with a busy lifestyle and the added demands of parenting, try our Perfect Relaxation for Parents mp3 - take time out for yourself and awaken refreshed and ready to face whatever life throws at you!
Also by BreastfeedingMums
Books We Love!
Write for Us
If you would like to contribute a pregnancy or breastfeeding poem, story or photos, or a miscarriage poem or story, just contact us and we'll add it to the site. Thanks.