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    Home ›› Soothers and suckling: what the healthcare professionals say

    Home ›› Soothers and suckling: what the healthcare professionals say

    Soothers and suckling: what the healthcare professionals say


    4 min. read


    Every parent ponders over whether to give their newborn a soother and the questions are plenty: do soothers cause nipple confusion? Are they ok for babies’ teeth? What are the benefits of using a soother?


    There’s a lot to figure out, and we know that the questions pile up while the answers don’t always add up. So, if you’re puzzling about giving a soother to your little one, we’ve something just for you. Read on.


    • The nature of suckling and how soothers play their part
    • Q&A: what healthcare professionals say
    • The benefits of using a soother
    • You know your baby best

    The nature of suckling and how soothers play their part


    Firstly, it’s worth knowing a little bit about why soothers exist in the first place. And it starts (as most things do) with nature. Specifically, suckling: it’s the innate reflex in newborns that provides comfort and calms them.


    We’ve all seen those images of babies sucking their thumb in the womb. It’s true – they begin suckling before birth, and the behavior continues to develop long after. At around three months, babies become more self-aware and start to self-soothe. Suckling and continues to play a big part in helping babies manage emotions, all the way up to 10 months.


    Soothers play a part in fulfilling that natural need in the first days, weeks, and months after birth. 

    Q&A: what healthcare professionals say


    As we know, introducing a newborn to soothers can be a delicate decision. Luckily, there are frequent studies from healthcare providers to bring some clarity about the benefits and precautions. We’ve paired their insights with some of your most frequently asked questions. Let’s go…


    1. Will a soother really calm my baby?

    It might sound obvious, but yes! Soothers really can help infants to calm down from crying.4 Plus, using a soother facilitates the self-comforting behavior2 we mentioned earlier.


    2. When can I start giving my baby a soother?

    For babies being breastfed, soother use should only begin after breastfeeding is established. This is to avoid ‘nipple confusion’. Infants who are not being directly breastfed can begin using a soother as soon as you wish.


    3. Can I give my baby a soother to sleep?

    Yes, you can. Soothers are recommended by healthcare professionals to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, particularly when used at the time of sleep.1


    4. Will soothers affect my baby’s dental health?

    You’ve probably heard many opinions about this. The experts say that soothers can affect your baby’s dental health. However, the likelihood can be reduced by keeping soother use to within your baby’s first 24 months1


    5. Do soothers cause issues with feeding?

    Not really, but there are things to know. Let’s run through everything:


    • Firstly, soothers can support parents and babies who are breastfeeding or bottle feeding3.
    • There is no association between using soothers and a shorter duration of breastfeeding4.
    • For breastfed infants, soother use may contribute to nipple confusion if introduced before breastfeeding is established7

    Benefits of soother use


    Soother use in infants has shown clear benefits:



    • In term infants, it is associated with relieving pain and discomfort. It can help relieve air-pressure related ear pain, and has been associated with a reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome1,6
    • In preterm infants, soother use has been associated with a decrease in length of hospital stay, ease of transition to oral/bottle feeding, along with reduced time spent fussing following tube feeding5


    And that’s not all


    • Soother use has advantages in reducing finger/thumb sucking and facilitating easier weaning from a sucking habit.3
    • It assists in the development of neurological maturity in preterm infants7

    You know your baby best


    We hope you found the answers to help your decision. But of course, no one knows your baby like you do so if you decide to introduce a soother, it’s entirely up to you when to do so. The trick to making it a success? Never force it and never let it substitute mealtimes. A soother is intended only to meet your baby’s natural suckling needs outside of breastfeeding or bottle feeding.

    What you need

    1. Sexton S, Natale R. Am Fam Physician 2009;79:681–685

    2. Planalp M, Braungart-Rieker JM. Infancy 2015;20:129–159

    3. Marter A, Agruss JC. JSPN 2007;12:278–285

    4. Jaafar SH, et al. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2016; Issue 8: CD007202

    5. Pinelli J, Symington AJ. Cochrane Database Syst Rev 2005; Issue 4: CD001071

    6. Hauck FR, et al. Pediatrics 2005;116:e716–e723

    7. Canadian Paediatric Society. Paediatr Child Health 2003;8:515–519

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