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Are Dummies Compatible with Breastfeeding? 

The use of dummies is a topic that creates a lot of controversy in our society. You may have been advised by friends or family not to introduce a dummy because it could cause confusion for your baby. Or perhaps not to use it at night, as your baby might become reliant on it, potentially leading to a disruption of their sleep. 

I believe it should be a family decision whether or not to use one, as long as you are aware of the risks and benefits. 

So, let’s dive into this blog, discussing when it’s better to introduce a dummy, the risks and benefits of its use, and, as usual, I will provide you with my top 5 tips for choosing the right dummy.

Is there a Better Time to Introduce a Dummy? 

Evidence is lacking advising the use of a dummy in the first few days after a baby is born. Some studies suggest that introducing dummies at 14 days or later has no detrimental effect on breastfeeding. However, as an IBCLC qualified lactation consultant, I recommend using it when breastfeeding is well established. Hold off until your milk supply is sufficient, consistent, and your baby has mastered an effective latch. 

At the same time, we need to individualise. For example, if I have a mother who finds that using a dummy is going to save her breastfeeding journey because her baby is on the breast constantly, and even though she knows that it’s normal behaviour, she can’t deal with it. For her own sanity, I’ll tell her that it’s fine to use a dummy as long as she uses it sporadically to calm a non-settled baby. 

Risks and Benefits of Using a Dummy

There are pros and cons to the use of dummies; they can offer a number of benefits, but at the same time, they can also present some downsides:


  • Nipple confusion: Babies are smart learners, especially when it comes to feeding. The natural sucking mechanism required for breastfeeding is different from that of a dummy. Introducing a dummy too early might confuse the baby, getting in the way of your baby’s ability to latch on and breastfeed. They are born without knowing the differences, so the more things we offer to them, the more confusion we can potentially create. 
  • Impact on your milk supply: The frequency and intensity of a baby’s sucking can directly influence a mother’s milk supply. If a dummy replaces some of the baby’s feeds, it can signal the mother’s body to produce less milk, leading to a decreased milk supply and other potential problems.  
  • Breastfeeding problems: Due to an inability to latch, you can end up with sore nipples, engorgement, plugged milk ducts, nipple cracks, and mastitis
  • Sucking satisfaction: Sucking a pacifier gives your baby satiety, so if they’re not very hungry they could start skipping feeds and may not gain weight properly. 


  • Protect babies from suffering sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS): The American Academy of Pediatrics (APP) recommends giving a dummy at naptime and bedtime because some studies have shown that they may help protect babies from SIDS, especially the ones are being fed with formula (a baby breastfed on demand doesn’t need to suck anything else apart from the breast to prevent it).

  • Help premature babies: Some studies have shown that sucking a dummy could help premature babies to learn and improve their non-nutritive suction, as well as sucking success for transition to oral feeding. 
  • Provide pain relief: Non-nutritive sucking has been shown to provide pain relief for babies suffering from colic, babies who are receiving vaccines and can’t breastfeed during the procedure, and babies that are sick or undergoing a medical procedure. 

  • Travel: Dummies can be your best ally while travelling by car on long journeys or on an airplane, as sucking can relieve painful pressure in the middle ear. 
My Top 5 Tips on How to Choose the Best Dummy

As you may know, the APP and most of the dentists recommend stopping the use of a dummy from 12 months to two years. So, their recommendation is to eliminate the dummy before your baby turns two. So here are some safety rules for choosing the best dummy:

1. Opt for silicone dummies: Choose clear silicone instead of yellow rubber, as the latter can get sticky and deteriorate easily. Also, because of the stickiness, it’s easier to catch more dirt on them, which could end up in your baby’s mouth. 

2. Choose the correct size: Every brand has different sizes depending on age, but also two babies of the same age can have different mouth sizes. They will encourage you to change your baby’s dummy as your baby grows, however what I recommend as an IBCLC is to choose the smallest possible size. Keep in mind that the smaller the better, and I would suggest not changing the size as your baby grows.

3. Physiological teat: To avoid any interaction with your baby’s growing palate and proper oral development, dentists recommend anatomical teats.

4. One-piece design: Choose a dummy that has a one-piece design without separate parts. This minimises the risk of choking hazards and makes the dummy easy to clean. Also, choose ones where the teat is as flat as thin as possible to avoid affecting the baby’s bite. 

5. BPA-Free: Opt for dummies that are free from harmful chemicals like Bisphenol A (BPA). BPA-free dummies are generally considered safer for babies. 

While dummies can be a useful tool in parenting, their introduction requires careful consideration, especially for breastfeeding mothers. Striking a balance that prioritises breastfeeding while meeting the comfort needs of the baby is key. Every baby is different; some of them can go back and forth between breastfeeding and a dummy with no problems, while others may face difficulties. Because you can’t predict which type your baby will be, it’s better to take some considerations to avoid surprises. 

As I mentioned before, my goal in writing this blog is to provide you with evidence-based information about dummies so that you can make the best decision not only for you baby but also for your family. Remember: no one can judge you because it’s a very personal decision. 

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