This Version Posted: December 6, 2019

It’s important to know all the facts so you can make an informed decision about giving your infant a soother. Know the facts about soothers.

Still have questions? Call the Health Unit at 1-866-888-4577, ext. 5003 to speak with a Family Health Nurse.

Risks of Using a Soother:

  • Soothers can interfere with successful breastfeeding. It can decrease the time a baby spends sucking at the breast, which can affect mom’s milk supply.
  • A soother is not nutritious and can impact a baby’s growth if it is used to replace breastfeeding.
  • A baby could develop a preference to the soother and refuse to breastfeed, making exclusive breastfeeding more difficult.
  • Using a soother can interfere with exclusive breastfeeding, it can make the Lactation Amenorrhea Method (LAM) an ineffective choice of contraception.
  • If not cleaned properly, soothers can carry germs.
  • If not used properly, soothers can be a choking hazard.
  • Ear infections and dental problems are more common with soother use and can be related to abnormal oral muscle function.
  • Overusing a soother can affect your child’s ability to learn to talk and can Lead to teeth problems.

If you have made an informed decision to use a soother, here are some tips to consider:

  • Wait until your baby is breastfeeding well and your milk supply is established (around four to six weeks) before offering a soother. If you feel you need to introduce a soother at an earlier stage, talk to your health care provider.
  • Always make sure your baby is not hungry, tired, or cold before giving a soother.
  • Avoid using a soother to delay you baby’s feedings. Always follow your baby’s feeding cues.
  • Sterilize the soother by boiling it in water for two minutes before the first use. Allow it to completely cool down before giving it to your baby. After each use, wash it with hot, soapy water. Don’t “clean” the soother by sucking on it yourself as it can spread germs from you to your child, including bacteria that can lead to tooth decay.
  • Always make sure the soother is not damaged and is free of cracks. Throw it out if it is damaged. Soothers should be replaced every two months.
  • Never let your baby or child chew on a soother. It could become damaged and cause choking and death.
  • Do not tie anything around your baby’s neck, this can cause strangulation and death. Clips with short ribbons attached to them are safe to use and are available where you buy soothers.
  • Don’t make your own soother out of bottle nipples, caps, or other materials. This can cause choking and death.
  • Children should not crawl or walk with a soother in their mouth.
  • Soothers should never be dipped in anything sweet. This can lead to tooth decay. Also, using honey can lead to botulism, which is a type of food poisoning.
  • Sometimes premature or sick babies like to suck for comfort. Talk with your health care provider or lactation consultant for help.