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I recently published a post on the 5 Best Baby Bottles for Breastfed Babies. Given the interest in that post, I wanted to follow-up with some related info on the best pacifiers for breastfed babies. Just like with baby bottles, I would suggest trying out pacifiers to test out with your baby before stocking up on a lot of any particular pacifier. Babies tend to have their own preferences, and it’s nearly impossible to predict what they will like best.
One tip I do have for you as an excellent place to start…if you give baby a bottle from time to time, and they accept that bottle successfully; check to see if that bottle manufacturer also makes pacifiers. For example, my daughter took a Dr. Brown’s bottle, and the only pacifier she would accept was also Dr. Brown’s Happy Paci. Unsurprisingly the nipple on the bottle was shaped similarly to the pacifier. Which makes using the pacifier more familiar and easier to take.
Do pacifiers cause nipple confusion?
Many experts believe that presenting babies with artificial nipples, be it a bottle or a pacifier, can cause baby to prefer an artifical nipple over the real deal. Or that babies get confused by the variation and won’t latch successfully for breastfeeding. Artificial nipples aren’t perfect and cannot perfectly mimic mom.
One key thing to note is that experts disagree on whether or not nipple confusion is even real. In my experience, I had a number of nurses, lactation consultants and doctors precaution us on nipple confusion. They advised that we delay introducing a pacifier until baby had started successfully gaining weight proving that they were breastfeeding successfully. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends introducing pacifiers once your baby gets the hang of breastfeeding, and once you have settled into a nursing routine (usually 3-4 weeks of age).
Contrastingly, many experts will tell you the exact opposite. “Babies are a lot smarter than we give them credit for, and for the most part, they should be able to get the hang of breastfeeding whether pacifiers are used or not,” says Jessica Madden, MD, a board certified pediatrician and neonatologist at Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio and Medical Director of Aeroflow Breastpumps originally quoted here).
My recommendation would be to do your research and to draw your own conclusions. There are some benefits of using pacifiers (hint: read the next section). So weight the evidence, talk to your doctors and decide what’s right for you and your baby.
What are the benefits of using pacifiers?
Babies have a strong sucking reflex. Often the sensation of having something to suck on is soothing for babies. So one of the most common reasons parents choose to use pacifiers to soothe and comfort baby. Additionally, studies show that pacifiers can help to reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) when used at bedtime.
Another benefit to pacifiers is that they are remove-able. Babies have and strong desire to suck to soothe themselves. If not given a pacifier, they may elect to suck on their fingers or thumb, which can be a harder habit to break in the long term.
What are the drawbacks of Pacifiers?
As with anything in life, pacifiers come with their disadvantages as well as the advantages we just covered. Of course there is the nipple confusion debate. On top of that, pacifier use can cause dental complications. Typically, reasonable pacifier use doesn’t lead to long-term dental issues; however, prolonged pacifier use sometimes can. There is also some evidence that pacifier use can cause an increased risk of ear infections.
Top 10 Best Pacifiers for Breastfed Babies
These Nanobebe pacifiers are a new design made from super soft silicone and are designed to contour around babies mouth for a snug fit. Unlike some other pacifiers, they are made from 100% flexible silicone to gift a soft-feeling experience like mom. The lightweight ergonomic design helps baby keep this pacifier in their mouth. These are a great option to test out with your breastfed baby, especially if you are using the Nanobebe bottles.
MAM pacifiers have been around for a long time, and there’s a reason these are a classic (and well deserving of a spot on this list). These pacifiers were developed in conjunction with leading pediatric dentists and developmental psychologists in the International Children’s Medical Research Society to provide maximum comfort and style for babies ages 0-2 month. The shape of the soft silicone nipple is wider and flatter than some others on this list, which more closely mimics the shape of mom’s nipple during breastfeeding. On top of that, the pacifier is incredibly lightweight and has a curved shape that conforms to baby’s mouth, which makes it great for a newborn babe to keep in their mouth.
The MAM pacifiers are available in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes to try out as baby grows. Additionally, these pacifiers usually come with a case that can be used for storing the pacifiers or for sanitizing them in the microwave. Which is a really nice bonus. One drawback is they don’t work with a lot of the standard pacifier clips as there is no ring on the back to tie them around.
These were my son’s favorite as a breastfed baby. MAM makes a few different designs, but these were my son’s favorite when he was a newborn. We did move up to the 0-6 month version, but he never did like the rounded version that Mam makes. MAM nipples are well-received by many babies, with 94% nipple acceptance among babies tested. Definitely worth a consideration given that track record!
The Dr. Brown’s Happy Paci is made 100% of silicone that is lightweight and soft with no pieces or parts to come apart or break off. The Happy Paci has a butterfly shaped design that contours to baby’s face. They come in blue or pink These were my daughters favorite as a baby. I warned you that each baby had their own preferences as my son wouldn’t take these at all. If you are using a Dr. Brown’s bottle, you absolutely should start with this pacifier first to see if your baby will take it. If not, it’s still a great option to start out with, along with the others on the top of this list.
The Tommee Tippee Breast-Like pacifiers are designed to have the natural feel and flex, just like mom (hence the name). There are ridges at the base of the nipple that are designed to give the pacifier the ability to bend and flex like a real nipple would. Unlike many other pacifiers, the Tommee Tippee pacifier curves away from the face. This is to allow air and drainage for baby’s sensitive skin to prevent irritation that can be caused by sucking and drooling with some pacifiers.
Many mom’s tout that the nipple on these are the most true to the real thing out of.all the pacifiers they tried. Definitely worth a shot if you’re having trouble getting your breastfed baby to take a pacifier!
The infamous Philips Soothie Pacifier, no doubt you’ve seen numerous pictures of babies with these pacis. They are a cult favorite, in fact, even doctors and nurses swear by them. They’re 100% made out of medical grade silicone.
I’ll be honest, neither of my kids were fans of these soothies when they were babies. I so wanted to love them at the time as they sold a bunch of adorable little stuffed animal attachments for them. However, some moms swear by these for their little ones, so it definitely deserves its spot on this list.
Additionally, Moms love that the weight of the animal helps to hold the pacifier in place on babies chest if it falls out of their mouth. It also make it easier to find! They are of course sold without a stuffie as well if you’d prefer just the pacifier. There are some competitor brands to these pacifiers like WubbaNub and Snookums, but these are the superior option with stuffed animals in my opinion.
For any of you breastfeeding mamas looking for a natural baby pacifier, look no further. The Bib baby pacifier is made in Denmark and has been a classic option for mothers for over 40 years. This pacifier has a simple clean design made out of natural rubber, that is meant to be just like mom. One interesting tidbit is that the nipple size of these pacifiers will grow over time as they are made out rubber. This is to be expected, but pacifiers should be discarded if they show irregularities or changes in color. Again, a great option for moms looking for a natural timeless option.
The Evenflo Feeding Balance Plus pacifier is another 100% silicone pacifier option, which won pacifier of the year in 2018. Pediatric feeding specialists helped to design this pacifier to help promote healthy sucking skills. The shape of this pacifier helps baby practice cupping their tongue around the nipple in the same shape they would during breastfeeding. It has vent holes on the pacifier to allow for better airflow, reducing the risk of irritation and rashes.
Another Tommee Tippee option on this list (what can I say? They make great pacifiers), this one differs a bit from the first. The Breast-Like Pacifier mentioned earlier on this list are specifically designed for breastfed babies, so naturally I think they deserve a higher ranking on the list to test out with a breastfed baby. However, this is a more classic style of pacifier that Tommee Tippee makes that’s also an excellent option.
The Ultra-Light Silicone Pacifier by Tommee Tippee was accepted by 83% of babies in a survey of parents who tested the product. The lightweight nature of the pacifier means babies can suck on it longer with less fatigue. It also flexes and bends, much like the breast-like pacifier, making it a great option for breastfed babies. It curves in towards babies face; the contour helps babies keep the pacifier in for longer. Leading to happier babies (and subsequently parents) for longer periods.
Another well-beloved option, the NUK pacifier was invented by pediatric dentists and doctors to be orthodontic friendly. The asymmetrical nipple fits well against a baby’s palate. This helps with reducing pressure on the teeth and jaws that can cause teeth misalignment with some other pacifier options. Additionally, this pacifier was modeled after mom to be well-suited for a breastfed baby. NUK even completed some market research demonstrating these pacifiers were not likely to cause nipple confusion.
The pacifier has a heart-shaped design to fit neatly under babies nose. As another bonus, these pacifiers come in tons of different designs and patterns. They really have some cute options! They are accepted by 95% of babies, and are definitely worth testing out if others on this list haven’t worked out for your baby.
Finally, the Medela Baby Soft Silicone Pacifier is a wonderful option for a breastfed baby. This is another 100% silicone pacifier, but the nipple is shaped a bit differently than many of the others on this list. It has a flat symmetric nipple that allows for free tongue movement and a thin shaft minimizes space between upper and lower jaw.
The Medela Pacifier was inspired by Medela’s 60 years of expertise on the Natural suckling behavior of breastfed babies. It has these little nubs called “SensoPearls” that enhance airflow between the pacifier and your baby’s skin. Overall, it’s lightweight, gentle on skin and easy to clean. It also comes with a case for storing the pacifiers or for sanitizing them in the microwave.
How to get baby to accept a new pacifier?
There are a few tips that you can try to help baby with accepting a pacifier. The first we covered with this list: testing out multiple types of pacifiers to find the one they naturally accept. A second tip is to try out a new pacifier multiple times. Sometimes it takes a few sessions for baby to learn how to suckle properly on a new pacifier.
Lastly, you should introduce the pacifier at a time when baby is calm, relaxed and content. Even a baby who loves their pacifier may refuse it when they are upset, crying or screaming. Try introducing it first after a feeding session. They’ll probably be super relaxed and a bit sleepy, making it much easier to get them to accept the pacifier. You can even try dipping the pacifier in breast milk to get them even more keen to try and suckle on it.
This probably goes without saying, but you should never force your baby to take a pacifier. Be patient and keep trying. You have lots of great options to test out on this list, and in all likelihood you’ll land on the right one for your baby at some point. Once you do, you’ll definitely want to stockpile baby’s favorite so that you always have their beloved binky handy.
When should we stop using a pacifier?
Typically experts recommend that babies stop using a pacifier somewhere between 2 to 4 years of age. Our pediatrician suggested the 18 month mark being a good option as your child will be young enough they won’t be able to protest in the same was as when they are a bit older. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) suggests weaning from the pacifier before the age of 3.
Thanks so much for stopping by! If I left your favorite pacifier that worked for your breastfed baby off the list, please let me know in a comment below! I’d love to hear which one worked for you and why you love it so much.
If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to check out my post on How to get Baby to Enjoy Tummy Time.