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Q&A: Can I Get My Baby A Pacifier?

Can I give my baby a pacifier? Will it affect my milk supply?

Possibly, yes. The problem with pacifiers is that they take away baby's ability to tell mom that they need more to eat, especially in the first two weeks after birth. Since milk production is totally supply and demand (the more baby feeds, the more milk you make), this could potentially keep your milk supply from growing to the level it would be if baby were sucking on you instead of a piece of silicone.

There are studies that showed that mothers who were given gift packages in the hospital that included pacifiers (from formula companies) produced less milk. Other studies suggested that pacifier use by older babies could lead to shorter breastfeeding experiences.

The other issue here is "nipple confusion." Some babies have a harder time effectively breastfeeding if they are introduced early on to artificial nipples. (The way they need to suck on your breast is different than the way they suck on a binky or bottle nipple; if baby tries to suck on you the same way as on the pacifier, he’ll get less milk and possibly damage your nipple.)

Are there moms who used a pacifier from day one and didn’t have trouble breastfeeding? Sure. Some babies have problems with pacifiers; some don't. To play it safe though, most experts recommend holding off on pacifier use for at least the first couple of weeks. If you do opt for a pacifier, protect your milk supply — and baby's weight gain — by limiting its use.