Skip to content

Health & Parenting

Font Size

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.

Today on WebMD

Girl holding up card with BMI written
Is your child at a healthy weight?
toddler climbing
What happens in your child’s second year.
father and son with laundry basket
Get your kids to help around the house.
boy frowning at brocolli
Tips for dealing with mealtime mayhem
mother and daughter talking
child brushing his teeth
Sipping hot tea
Young woman holding lip at dentists office
Which Vaccines Do Adults Need
rl with friends
tissue box
Child with adhd