Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Health & Parenting

Font Size
A
A
A

Pacifiers Don't Necessarily Cause Early Weaning


WebMD Health News

July 17, 2001 -- One of the things a new baby loves to do is cry. Many new moms, including those who are breastfeeding, are quick to give a pacifier to a fussy or crying baby. Yet, some small studies have suggested that pacifier use during breastfeeding can lead to early weaning by causing nipple confusion. In fact, the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children's Fund strongly discourage the use of pacifiers.

Now Canadian researchers, in a new study in the July 18 Journal of the American Medical Association, tried to settle the issue once and for all by determining whether pacifier use actually causes early weaning.

The researchers followed almost 300 breastfeeding women and their infants for three months. Some women in the study were counseled to avoid pacifier use and instead comfort their infant by breastfeeding, rocking, and carrying when he or she fusses, while the others just received information on breast-feeding without an emphasis on limiting pacifier use.

The researchers found that those counseled about pacifier use were more likely to avoid pacifiers, less likely to use pacifiers daily, and less likely to use a pacifier often during a given day. Overall, mothers who used pacifiers breastfed for less time. But, the researchers were unable to prove that pacifier use is a true cause of early weaning.

"Pacifier use can be an [indicator] that breast feeding is not going well," says study author Luisa Ciofani, MSc, IBCLC, a clinical nurse specialist at McGill University Health Center in Montreal. Pacifier use could also possibly indicate reduced motivation to breastfeed, Ciofani and her colleagues conclude.

Interestingly, the researchers also found that other methods of soothing an infant such as breastfeeding, rocking, or carrying seem to work as well as pacifier use.

So what's a mom to do?

That's a personal decision, experts tell WebMD.

"Pacifiers are engrained in peoples minds, " says Ciofani. "If you sent any mother to the store to buy five items, I am sure she would buy a pacifier."

But Ciofani encourages the natural approach: "Save your money. Don't buy formulas. Don't buy pacifiers. Breastfeed your baby.

"Breastfed babies have less allergies, less infectious disease such as ear infections, diarrhea, respiratory problems, less likely to be obese as children," she says. "Breastfeeding is also a benefit for the health of mothers. Their weight returns to normal sooner and some research suggests moms who breastfeed are less likely to develop breast or other cancers."

The bottom line, she says, is that pacifiers "won't enhance anything."

Yet other experts tell WebMD pacifiers won't do any harm so if they comfort your child, its OK to let them use one.

"I encourage parents to let kids suck a thumb or pacifier if the kid is interested in that," says Alan Greene, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at Stanford University.

Today on WebMD

family walking on the beach
Slideshow
two boys in a swing
Article
 
mistakes_parents_make_with_toddlers_2.jpg
Article
woman with cleaning products
Slideshow
 
mother and daughter talking
Tool
child brushing his teeth
Slideshow
 
Sipping hot tea
Slideshow
Young woman holding lip at dentists office
Video
 
6-Week Challenges
Want to know more?
Build a Fitter Family Challenge – Get your crew motivated to move.
Feed Your Family Better Challenge - Tips and tricks to healthy up your diet.
Sleep Better Challenge - Snooze clues for the whole family.
I have read and agreed to WebMD's Privacy Policy.
Enter cell phone number
- -
Entering your cell phone number and pressing submit indicates you agree to receive text messages from WebMD related to this challenge. WebMD is utilizing a 3rd party vendor, CellTrust, to provide the messages. You can opt out at any time.
Standard text rates apply
Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
Article
rl with friends
fitSlideshow
 
tissue box
Quiz
Child with adhd
Slideshow