Soothers and Newborn Sleep

Soother or no soother?  My daughter corrects me all the time and tells me to call them pacifiers, I think she get this from her videos!  

Soother use is another one of those hot topics of motherhood where parents often get conflicting advice!  The decision to use a soother – or not – is up to you.

When to Use A Soother

The availability of soothers in the hospital has changed over the years.  Currently, many hospitals do not supply them anymore. In those early days, we encourage lots of skin to skin and frequent feeds.  For breastfeeding moms, milk supply works by supply and demand. The more often you put the baby to the breast and feed the greater your milk supply will be.  Milk supply is so fragile in those first few weeks and those frequent feeds are crucial in establishing a great supply. A soother can be a great tool for a newborn baby once breastfeeding has been established, milk supply is in, and we are sure we are not missing feeding cues.  We would never want to use a soother to replace a feeding. If your baby has been fed and still seems to want to suck in between, a soother may be really helpful.

Babies develop a strong sucking reflex in the womb and it’s present until between 2-4 months of age.  Sucking is a natural behaviour and a soother can satisfy this need, comfort and settle a fussy baby.

Benefits of Soothers

I remember when my daughter was little and I had brought her in to the pediatrician for one of her newborn visits and the pediatrician asked me if she uses a soother.  In my mind, I was thinking “just say no” because I was sure she was going to advise against it knowing it is a bit of a controversial topic. I decided to own it and said “yes she does”. A little to my surprise she replied “great!” WHAT?!

She went on to explain how research is showing soothers can be a useful tool in reducing the risk for SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) as the sucking action maintains an open airway and keeps them in lighter stages of sleep so they wake more easily.  

Soothers can also be a great tool for newborn sleep, to lengthen naps, and to settle night wakings.  The Canadian Paediatric Society suggests using soothers only at sleep times and if it pops out (which is often what happens!) to not pop it back in right away if they are not crying for it.  This gives them a chance to learn some independent sleep skills.

When Can Soothers Become A Problem?

Sometimes with older babies soothers can turn into a sleep prop or become a barrier to sleep, and interfere with the consolidation of nighttime sleep.  If your little one uses a soother to fall asleep, they will most likely wake in the night and then not be able to get back to sleep until they can find it.

Best soother tip- always pack a back up when you go out!  Also, no need to put them in your mouth first…clean soothers daily with hot soapy water.  

Love them or hate them…it’s only a problem if it’s a problem for you!  If a soother becomes a sleep problem or you want some tips on how to ditch the soother, reach out to any of The Mama Coaches and we would be happy to help!

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