Monkey Business/Fotolia

Does Using A Pacifier Decrease Your Milk Supply? A Pediatrician Explains

Ad failed to load

To paci or not to paci — that is the dilemma many new parents face. On the one hand, pacifiers are so ubiquitous you probably received one of those Wubbanub stuffed animal pacifiers as a baby shower gift, even if you never asked for one. But as with every decision, there is strong debate on both sides. You probably have friends who never gave their kids a pacifier and when it comes to breastfeeding, the stakes change. A breastfed baby may not accept any kind of artificial nipple, and breastfeeding moms wonder: does using a pacifier decrease your milk supply? Experts agree that you should wait until breastfeeding is well-established before introducing a pacifier.

Pediatrician Rachel Lowdenback of Paducah, Kentucky, says that a strong breastfeeding relationship is the most important thing to establish before you offer your baby a pacifier. Most breastfeeding babies will be ready around 1 month of age, but Lowdenback tells Romper that the risk of introducing a pacifier too soon is that your baby will prefer the artificial nipple to your breast, thereby disrupting your milk supply. According to The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, "In the early weeks, especially, if a baby wants to suck, he wants to eat, pure and simple... it [a pacifier] can reduce intake at a time when a baby is meant to grow quickly." But as long as you wait until your supply is consistent and established, using a pacifier should not decrease your milk supply.

Giphy
Ad failed to load

Of course, some breastfed babies will not accept a pacifier regardless of timing. Lowdenback explains that your baby may try to use you and your breast as a pacifier. There's nothing inherently wrong with this, but if you feel frustrated or burned out, Lowdenback recommends trying some behavioral changes to get your child to stop using nursing as a pacifier. For example, most kids like to have a "lovey" such as a piece of a blanket to hold onto. Ideally, you would transfer their comfort source from breastfeeding to something they can hold, giving them the ability to soothe themselves.

Once you start the paci habit, when should it stop? Lowdenback recommends pacifier weaning at about 1 year of age. However, she notes that some children may want to keep their beloved binkies for a little longer than that. The one-year-mark can also be a time of teething. So Lowdenback says it's all right to wait until all of your child's teeth have come in, whether that's at 1 year or older, before you take the pacifier away.

As for the characteristics that separate "good" pacifiers from ones that can cause harm to a child's teeth or palate, Lowdenback, who is a contributing advisory member to the pacifier manufacturer Smilo, recommends looking for "a very good orthodontic paci" that is "soft and pliable," and "designed to help kids as their palate expands." You should adhere to a pacifier's recommended age and keep up with appropriate sizes as your child grows.

Ad failed to load
Giphy

Sometimes you may experience milk supply issues that have nothing to do with whether or not your baby uses a pacifier. Lowdenback says, "it's hard to know why we don't have enough milk." In her own practice, that question comes up a lot, and she recommends working with a lactation consultant (LC) to understand and resolve supply problems.

An LC can do pre- and post-feeding weight checks to determine how much milk your baby is taking in. And although babies always get more than a breast pump can, it may be helpful to try pumping with a double electric to get a close estimate of how much milk your breasts can express in one feeding. "Power pumping," which consists of pumping throughout the day after each nursing session, can also help stimulate your milk production by increasing demand. If supply problems persist and your baby seems to still be hungry or uncomfortable after breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about possible medicines or homeopathic remedies you can take to boost your milk production.

Ad failed to load

Finally, I asked Lowdenback what she would say to paci detractors who may try to shame parents for giving their children pacifiers. She said the American Academy of Pediatrics has found that pacifier use can actually decrease the risk of SIDs. So while the decision to paci or not to paci is a personal choice, if you do want to use this soothing tool, rest assured that there is a way to do so without harming your milk supply or your child.

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Ad failed to load

Check out the entire Romper's Doula Diaries series and other videos on Facebook and the Bustle app across Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

Umm, Toys "R" Us Has A BOGO 50 Percent Off Deal So You Better Stock Up

After the holidays, you were probably hoping that your kid's massive toy collection would keep him entertained for a little while, at least. But that was wishful thinking, wasn't it? Because now that a couple of months have passed, all those must-hav…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

Turns Out, Kim Kardashian's Favorite Mom Products Look A Lot Like Your Own Faves

Being a mom is really hard work, especially for the first few months, and Kim Kardashian West is no different in that regard. Now the mother of three, Kardashian says that there are a few products she just can't live without when it comes to raising …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

These 9 Instant Pot Recipes Will Make Even The Pickiest Eater Happy At The Table

Like any parent, I've had my share of parenting hits and misses, but one of my favorite "wins" is my daughter's diverse palate. I don't even know if I can take credit for it, but I would like to think I had something to do with her love for lentils, …
By Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Soda Might Hurt Your Fertility, Study Says, & Here's What You Can Do

Who doesn't love sugary drinks? I stopped drinking soda years ago, but I still love gulping down those fancy Starbucks coffee beverages. I don't have a big sweet tooth, but I am a sucker for sugar-sweetened beverages every now-and-then. Turns out, th…
By Annamarya Scaccia

10 Things No One Tells You About Having A Baby In Your 30s

If you're like me, you evaluate the pros and cons of any major life decision. When my husband and I were considering starting a family, I thought about my career, education, and financial stability. I wanted to know how a pregnancy and childbirth wou…
By Steph Montgomery

This Woman Thought She Had An Eyelash Stuck In Her Eye. Then It Moved.

I'm not a person who is easily icked out. As a kid, I collected bugs and thought I was going to be an entomologist and asked Santa Claus for ant farms and nets to catch bees. I'm still super curious about anything that flies and crawls, which might s…
By Karen Fratti

A Hot Mess Mom's Guide To Surviving Winter

As I sit here at my home office in Connecticut, it's cold. Damn cold. Winter is a rough season in New England and it's even worse when you're a parent and have to manage cooped up, restless children. It's even worse when you're a hot mess as it is, u…
By Jamie Kenney

5 Red Flags Your Toddler Isn't Eating Enough

Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, at least in my experience. You offer mashed potatoes, they want french fries. You give them crackers, they scream for chips. It's frustrating, to be sure, but it's usually their way of vying for independence. It…
By Candace Ganger

11 Ways Your Pregnancy Will Be Different If You Have A Boy Vs A Girl

If you've been pregnant before, you might start comparing your previous pregnancies to that of your current pregnancy. A lot of things can change from pregnancy to pregnancy, based on a whole host of different factors (including how well you remember…
By Lauren Schumacker

35 Moms Share The Most Disgusting Things Their Husbands Do

I'm a human being who revels in challenges. I like when people present me with one, especially if they don't think I can meet or succeed it, and I like taking a challenge on, especially if it's unexpected. So when I aimed to uncover the most disgusti…
By Jamie Kenney

How Having Kids In Your 20s Affects You Later In Life

For parents, like myself, who had kids in their 20s, there are a number of questions that come to mind. When you're deciding what your future will look like, you'll likely consider what this means for your health, career, and more down the line. Thin…
By Tessa Shull

8 Reasons I Let My Toddler Play Outside Unsupervised

I'm not a helicopter mom, but I'm not exactly a free-range parent either. I like to think of myself as safely ensconced somewhere in the middle. I insist on certain safety measures, like car seats and helmets. I prefer to keep my 2-year-old in my sig…
By Kimmie Fink

12 Moms Share How They Stay Healthy During Flu Season

Unfortunately, we're in the middle of the roughest flu seasons in recent memory. And we’re not totally out of the woods, either. People around the country are still getting the flu, and, sadly, some of them are having to be hospitalized due to flu-re…
By Priscilla Blossom

8 "Mistakes" I'm Glad I Made During My First Pregnancy

As an adult, I've learned you never really stop hating being told what to do. When I was pregnant I was getting instructions at every turn, from doctors, relatives, and complete strangers on the subway. I would nod and smile but then go about making …
By Liza Wyles

Study: Drinking Two Glasses Of Wine A Day Is Good For Your Mind — Here's Why

There’s more scientific proof that a daily drink or two isn't necessarily a bad thing and could have a place in an overall healthy lifestyle. A new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in New York found that — in mice, at le…
By Tiffany Thomas

Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead To A Healthy Pregnancy, So Bring On The Pasta

In the world of me, no food is better than bread. I know it's supposed to be pretty terrible for you, high in calories, low in protein, and full of that modern-day demon, gluten... but guys, it's really yummy. Especially warm out of the oven, when th…
By Jen McGuire

These Photos Of Prince George Then & Now Will Give You Serious Baby Fever

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their third child in Spring 2018. With all of the excitement surrounding the new baby, it's easy to forget all of the good times that have already passed. The couple's eldest is already well into the sc…
By Azure Hall

This Is, Hands Down, The *Grossest* Thing Babies Do Inside The Womb

Your baby's life in the womb may be safe and warm, but it's also kind of grody. Seriously, the whole process of growing into a human being includes more than a few icky moments along the way. But this is the grossest thing babies do inside the womb b…
By Lindsay E. Mack