Are soothers good for your baby?
We have gathered some information backed by science as well as myth busters regarding the use of soothers.
If you’re a new mother or mother-to-be, the wellbeing of your little one is, without a doubt, your main goal and you want your baby to have a healthy development, both physically and emotionally. When it comes to soothers, there are a lot of theories and opinions out there. Are soothers good for your baby?
It is easy to feel uncertain or confused about the pros and cons of soothers, as it is hard to tell on which side of these theories the truth lies. But can we classify a soother as "good" or "bad" for babies?
Like with many other questions, there’s no black and white answer to this one either. The use of a soother can have a lot of benefits for your baby when used responsibly, following certain guidelines and the instructions for use.
If you’re about to make up your mind about whether to use a soother or not, keep on reading! We have gathered some information backed by science as well as myth busters regarding the use of soothers. Additionally, you can learn how and when a soother can help your little one and on which occasions you may want to consider waiting before offering a soother.
A soother can offer comfort when your baby is crying and/or agitated – Truth
Soothers can be very helpful to offer comfort to your little one during times of distress, as the action of suckling helps babies soothe themselves.1
Soothers can be given to a breastfed baby – Truth
Soothers can be given to a healthy baby from birth. Studies have shown that the use of a soother with healthy breastfeeding babies, having started from birth or after lactation is established, did not impact significantly the frequency or duration of exclusive and partial breastfeeding for up to four months of age.2 However, you may want to consider introducing the soother when you and your baby are already comfortable with breastfeeding. It is important that a soother shouldn’t be used to replace or delay feeding time.
Soothers may help reduce the risk of cot death during napping and sleeping time – Truth
Scientific research has shown that the use of a soother during sleep may offer protection against cot death, also known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).3 However, if your little one loses the soother while sleeping, there’s no need to put it back in their mouth.4
Soother affects teeth – Myth
When used responsibly and within the recommended time limits, soothers should not cause problems with dentition or misaligned teeth. Expert literature recommends limiting the amount of time a soother is used to a maximum of six hours per day.5 Every child’s mouth and teeth develop differently. The use of soothers for children older than 24 months should be a decision made by each parent, based on consultation with a medical or dental healthcare provider. The American Academy of Paediatric Dentistry recommends that weaning should start at the latest by three years of age.6 We recommend choosing a soother shape that supports oral development, usually indicated by the word "orthodontic".
Soothers can aid your baby with pain relief – Truth
Scientific evidence has shown that soothers can help babies better cope with distress and discomfort during minor painful events.1 When babies get a vaccine or blood taken, the act of suckling on a soother can help them calm and soothe themselves. When teething, your little one might feel very uncomfortable and experience aches and soreness. The soother can offer some relief to the discomfort. Just pay attention to the condition of the soother and replace it if it begins to look worn out.
Soothers cause colic – Myth
The cause of colic is still unknown, but there are some theories such as an immature digestive system, lactose intolerance, allergies or changes in the normal bacteria of their digestive system. Swallowing additional air during feeding can aggravate the situation.7 It is often difficult to calm babies during a colic episode; they cry intensely and long, often with clenched fists and curled up legs. Symptoms usually start to improve at around 10–12 weeks of life. One tip to help calm your baby is to offer a soother,8 as suckling can be soothing and help regulate your little one’s emotions.1
Weaning can be difficult – Myth and Truth
Some babies have no problem giving up their soothers while others need more time to say goodbye. As a soother provides comfort, babies can become attached to it. Weaning will be a learning and compromising experience for you and your little one. But with love and some patience, you will manage to help your baby reach this milestone in life. Find helpful tips and ideas about weaning in our soother guide for parents.
You now have a lot of useful information about soothers. If you feel that the soother is a good option for your little one, start considering what the best one may be for your baby. There is a wide range of soothers available nowadays. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials, such as a special size for newborns, one-piece soothers, 100% made of silicone and soothers for day or night time. Check out our Soother Selector and find the perfect match for your baby.
1 Pillai Riddell RR et al. Non-pharmacological management of infant and young child procedural pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015; (12):CD006275. https://doi.org/10.1002%2F14651858.CD006275.pub3
2 Jaafar SH et al. Effect of restricted pacifier use in breastfeeding term infants for increasing duration of breastfeeding. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016; (8):CD007202.
3 Alm B et al. Breastfeeding and dummy use have a protective effect on sudden infant death syndrome. Acta Paediatri. 2016; 105(1):31-38.
4 Moon RY. SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Evidence Base for 2016 Updated Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment. Pediatrics. 2016; 138(5):e20162940. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/128/5/1030
5 Proffit WR. On the aetiology of malocclusion. The Northcroft lecture, 1985 presented to the British Society for the Study of Orthodontics, Oxford, April 18, 1985. Br J Orthod. 1986; 13(1):1–11.
6 AAPD. Guideline on periodicity of examination, preventive dental services, anticipatory guidance/counseling, and oral treatment for infants, children, and adolescents. Latest revision 2018. In: American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, editor. The reference manual of pediatric dentistry. 2019-2020. Chicago IL: AAPD; 2020. p. 209–19.
7 Johnson JD et al. Infantile Colic: Recognition and Treatment. American Family Physician. 2015; 92(7): 577–582.
8 Lam T.M.L. et al. Approach to infantile colic in primary care. Singapore Med J. Singapore Med J 2019; 60(1): 12-16.