Q: I’ve noticed that you never use a pacifier or a bottle with your baby. Do you just not show it? Or do you actually never use them? If so, tell me why!
A: Great question, Sienna!
You are right; I never use pacifiers or artificial nipples with my babies + made that choice intentionally.
While it felt more demanding of my time + body up-front in the newborn season, I am so happy that I followed through. Here are my reasons why:
Breast is Best
For me, there’s no sugarcoating it. Breastmilk is the best nutrition for your baby.
When you breastfeed, your nipple receives signals from baby’s saliva about what your individual baby needs to thrive the best.
Breastmilk is custom made to fit your individual baby. Money can’t buy a better off-the-shelf formula or custom-lab formula. There’s just no way around it.
That said, of course there are instances where a mother absolutely cannot breastfeed + my bluntness isn’t to make her feel less than at all. A baby needs a happy, healthy mom first.
But I wanted that communication channel to be uninterrupted as much as humanly possible. For little ones, things can change in a moment and I wanted my breast to pick up on the cues that I was likely missing as a new, first time mom.
I can say now almost 2 1/2 years later, that strategy has worked incredibly for my child’s immunity. She has had one really good cold in her lifetime and that was when I lapsed in my nutrition and hers on a big traveling vacation.
I work from home with baby full-time, so not using an alternative nipple worked for us. Had we decided to use bottles or a pacifier, I would’ve waited until at least 6 weeks (same as for waiting to pump when my milk supply established).
This is due to a conflicting topic called “nipple confusion”. Some lactation consultants suggest that if a baby is acclimated to if a false nipple early on, they might mistake that for being the true nipple they should be attached to. This means that a baby might be trying to feed from a pacifier as opposed to a breast, or trying to bond with a bottle instead of mom — and this can be detrimental when baby’s nutritional needs are often only being met by breastmilk.
I practice attachment-style parenting and continuous breastfeeding is a big part of establishing the mother-to-baby bond. Like the continuity I wanted for immunity sake, I wanted our new baby to have continuous contact with me + not get confused on who or what to bond with. They’re just so little, I imagined that being hard to figure out at that age!
Better Dental Health
A human nipple is completely malleable to baby’s mouth. Even some of the best bottles on the market can’t replicate the elasticity and function of the human nipple.
When you add in a firmer surface like an artificial bottle, or sippy cup, or pacifier, and it’s sucked on with the intensity + time that a baby naturally suckles for, it can actually change the baby’s physical dental structure.
I’m not at the point of evaluating for braces yet, so time will tell how true that is!
But so far so good: I have noticed that my 2-year-old’s teeth are evenly spaced with enough gaps in between them that brushing and flossing are so easy.
I also don’t have to worry about dental health “as much” (though I do, anyways, because that’s just me!) because breastfeeding doesn’t leave milk pooling in the mouth when baby falls asleep feeding like artificial nipples do. When milk pools in baby’s mouth overnight, you run the risk of decay and cavities.
Important to note: Having your breastfeeding latch checked out by a holistically-minded lactation consultant (not all are the same) will help you make sure that your natural latch doesn’t encourage future dental challenges, either!