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Babies can only communicate by crying, but excessive crying can be hard to handle after a while. Sometimes your baby just needs something to give them comfort, something that simulates their mother’s breast when it’s not feeding time. What you need is the best soother for your breastfed baby.
Pros and Cons when Using a Soother
There are several mixed opinions on the use of a soother or pacifier. Some parents and professionals swear by them while others don’t want to introduce them to their babies.
While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I do want to present some of the practical/medical facts before you consider whether a pacifier is right for you and your baby.
First the pros.
Pacifiers are believed to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) due to their design which keeps a baby’s mouth and airway somewhat open.
If you are planning to travel with your baby, sucking on pacifiers can also ease discomfort from pressure in the ears.
You can also consider the fact that they’re disposable – unlike thumbs, i.e. thumb-suckers – a pro. This gives you the power to decide when to be done with it.
Pacifier dependence can be an easier habit to break (albeit still with a degree of difficulty) than thumb-sucking since you can’t take your child’s thumbs away.
Now for the cons.
Introducing a soother before you have established a good breastfeeding routine and/or latch can create potential feeding problems.
Pacifiers don’t hold your baby’s mouth open wide like breastfeeding does, so they may become confused and try to latch onto the nipple as they would a pacifier causing you pain as your baby becomes frustrated that they aren’t getting much milk.
Improper sizing and/or prolonged use can also cause long-term oral development issues with your baby. You can end up with poor dental hygiene and narrowing of the hard palate that can result in extensive orthodontic treatment in the future.
Practice Proper Pacifier Care
If you are planning to use a pacifier with your baby, you need to know the proper way to take care of it.
You can count on them getting lost, dropped, and dirty all the time, and you don’t want your little one to get sick due to germs and bacteria that may come into contact with their pacifier.
You want to have a carrying case or plastic baggy with you when you are out of the house in order to store the extra pacifiers (you will need them!) in your diaper bag.
This will keep them from getting dirty in the bag or if they were to fall out on the ground as you are digging around.
When you or your baby does drop a pacifier (it will happen), you need to make sure you clean it thoroughly before giving it back to your child. You can use a mild soap and hot water for a quick clean up, but it is recommended that you boil them regularly to prevent bacteria growth.
Many pacifiers are also able to be run through the dishwasher with bottle nipples for better sterilization.
How to Choose the Best Soother for Breastfed Babies
The soother’s material is important for a couple of different reasons.
First, you need to consider your baby’s sensitive skin. Many pacifier nipples are made of silicone, but you can still find some that have some latex.
Take a close look and watch out for allergic reactions. You also need to decide whether you want to give your baby a pacifier with a plastic or rubber/silicone shield.
The other reason materials are important is due to their durability. A soft, flexible pacifier may be fine at first, but eventually, that sucking will turn into chewing and those gums will turn into teeth.
Since punctured and torn pacifiers are unusable, you want something that can stand up to the wear and tear your baby will put it through.
Most pacifiers come in different sizes, which are based on a baby’s age. This size affects both the shield size as well as the nipple size.
A size that is too big may cover your baby’s nose, blocking off their airway and affecting their breathing.
A size that is too small will not only be uncomfortable and possibly not pacify at all, but it can also cause poor oral development both with erupting teeth and palatal structure.
There are two basic soother nipple shapes to choose from: asymmetrical and symmetrical. Both have their benefits and your baby may prefer one over the other.
With a symmetrical nipple, there is no way that the pacifier can be inserted into your baby’s mouth upside down, eliminating your baby’s frustration. Some babies may prefer an asymmetrical nipple, however, due to the way it fits and contours to their mouth better (when inserted properly).
No matter which shape you and your baby use, be sure that it promotes proper oral development and simulates breastfeeding as closely as possible.
As mentioned before, it is important to clean your baby’s soother immediately when it falls on the ground. Most can be boiled, but there are some that have special care instructions. Be sure to read the instructions carefully to keep your baby’s pacifier clean and in good condition.
Best Soothers for Breastfed Babies
Philips AVENT Soothie
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The Philips AVENT Soothie is recommended by parents and professionals alike. They are so highly trusted that they are actually distributed in hospitals nationwide. They are 100% hospital-grade silicone making them both safe (BPA- and latex-free) and durable. Their one-piece construction prevents broken pieces, reduces the risk of choking and suffocation, and also makes them easy to sterilize since there’s no plastic. Their symmetrical shape is designed and sized for your baby’s mouth, helping it to feel more natural when used in conjunction with breastfeeding.
However, the stiffness of the silicone and shape may not be to some babies’ liking. My little one never took to these.
The Soothie comes in two sizes: 0-6 months and 6+ months. They are not ideal for toddlers or little ones with teeth.
- Easy to sterilize
- Hospital-grade silicone
- Not ideal for older babies and toddlers
- Too stiff for some babies
[amazon box=”B003CK3LDI” /]
If you think the shape of the Wubbanub pacifier looks familiar, you would be right. It is essentially the same pacifier as the Philips AVENT Soothie with the addition of a little stuffed friend. Since it is similar to the Soothie, it has many of the same benefits, including its one-piece construction (not including the stuffed toy), durability due to 100% hospital-grade silicone, and the fact that its BPA, PVC, latex, and phthalate-free. The addition of the stuffed toy not only adds a bit of character and cuteness but also adds a couple of benefits.
The soother is easy to grasp with little hands as they hold onto their little friend, and the soother itself is also a little more difficult to lose since it’s easier to see with the animal attached. There are some disadvantages of the stuffed toy, however. It does not detach for sanitizing, so you can only spot clean these with soap and water.
It also makes this soother quite a bit more expensive and somewhat impractical cost-wise.
- Multiple animal friends to choose
- Safe materials
- Difficult to clean
MAM Sensitive Skin Air
[amazon box=”B00EM5CM5U” /]
After my little one refused to take the Philips AVENT Soothie, I decided to try the MAM pacifier. She took to it right away, not surprising since 94% of babies accept it. They are highly recommended for breastfed babies due to their soft silicone nipples and symmetrical shape. There are also 4 different sizes to choose from: newborn, 0-6 months, 6+ months, and 16+ months.
Both the nipple size and the shield size/shape change as you go up, helping them to fit both your baby’s mouth and face appropriately. One of the unique things about this pacifier is the case they come in. It is not only handy for carrying the pacifiers outside of the house but it can also be used to sanitize them in the microwave.
You do have the option to boil them as well, but completely submerging them in water may allow water to become trapped in the nipple.
- Best pacifier for breastfed babies
- Case for carrying and sanitizing
- Soft, symmetrical nipple
- Water can get into nipples when boiling
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As my little one got older, the MAM pacifiers were a bit difficult to find where we lived, so I decided to try the NUK Orthodontic.
At that point, she wasn’t as picky and took to them easily, but I personally feel like they fit her better due to their shape. The heart-shaped shield fits your baby’s face well contouring around their nose and mouth.
The orthodontic asymmetrical nipple shape mimics a mother’s nipple shape when breastfeeding, with a scoop nipple cavity on the flat side to allow tongue movement. These also come in various sizes from newborn through 36 months and are available in silicone or latex nipples with BPA-free plastic shields. They can be boiled and are dishwasher-safe, but just like the MAM pacifiers, water can get trapped inside the nipple when sanitizing.
The large plastic ring on the shield can also be a bit bulky and noisy as it rattles around.
- Shape mimics mother’s nipple
- Various sizes available
- Contours to baby’s face shape
- Water can get trapped in nipple
- Ring can be bulky and noisy
Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature
[amazon box=”B00I0M8QVU” /]
The Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature soother is similar to the MAM in both nipple and shield shape.
The nipple is symmetrical and shaped like a bottle nipple, which may or may not work well for breastfed babies. There are three sizes available – 0-6 months, 6-18 months, and 18-36 months – which grow right along with your baby. The biggest downsides to these soothers are with their graphics/colors.
When ordering from sites like Amazon, you have no option to choose the color you want, so you could end up with pink pacifiers for your little boy.In addition, the color rubs off very quickly from both use and sterilization.
- Symmetrical, orthodontic nipple
- checkAvailable in 3 sizes
- BPA-free plastic
- Can’t choose the color/design you want
- Color comes off quickly
If I had to choose the best soother for a breastfed baby, I would have to go with the MAM.
It is accepted by 94% of babies overall and the symmetrical nipple is made with soft velvety silicone which feels like a real nipple in your baby’s mouth.
There are also various nipple and shield sizes to help grow with your baby and they are easy to sanitize and keep clean thanks to the included case. You really can’t go wrong with these pacifiers.
What do you think? Do you have a soother you like for your breastfed baby? Let us know!