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Baby uses breast to soothe herself.

Not only is my 6 week old eating every hour, she also snacks on my breast constantly. She hates a pacifier so I suspect she's just using my breast to soothe herself because she'll act like she's hungry and then suckle for 1 or 2 mins. How do I stop her without resorting to a pacifier (which she hates)?

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Asked by Anonymous at 4:01 PM on Apr. 20, 2009 in Babies (0-12 months)

Answers (23)
  • You don't. She's a baby, that's what they do. Remember, pacifiers are mom replacements, so what she is doing is totally normal. Get a sling or a wrap to help you out.

    Answer by LeanneC at 4:10 PM on Apr. 20, 2009

  • Information on comfort nursing from and an article entitled Comfort vs. Nutrition

    All babies nurse for comfort, it is one of the built in benefits of nursing. It can feel overwhelming in the beginning, when the baby's needs are SO intense and so frequent, but that does change. One thing to remember is that she is still a newborn, and this is normal and healthy behavior for her... it is also something that fades over time. It might seem overwhelming right now, but it will someday be just a memory.


    Answer by Collinsky at 4:15 PM on Apr. 20, 2009

  • Do you have What to Expect the First Year? If so, help is found on page 123 in the bottom right hand corner.

    The gist of the advice is that using your breast to soothe a baby can lead to the baby becoming overweight as well as pacifying themself inappropriately. On section says "Sometimes, crying is a baby's way of unwinding for a few minutes before she falls asleep. Put her back to the breast, and you may not just be overfeeding her, but also interrupting her efforts to settle down for a nap. Sometimes crying after a meal may be a cry for companionship...." it also says the behavior can signal gas or the need for rocking/calming. Allowing a baby to use you as a pacifier (according to the book) can not only cause them to become overweight but establish a snack-and-soothe habit where they learn to eat as the main tool to to soothe themselves.

    Answer by NovemberLove at 4:19 PM on Apr. 20, 2009

  • Oh, yes! Absolutely get a sling or wrap, which enable you to nurse handsfree - you can go about your life while still meeting all your baby's needs! has articles and information to help you choose a carrier and where to get them, and how to use them.

    It was amazing for me when I got my first carrier (besides the Snugli, which I couldn't breastfeed in). EVERYONE got their needs met... always a beautiful thing.


    Answer by Collinsky at 4:20 PM on Apr. 20, 2009

  • The section goes on to give these tips on alternative methods of soothing:

    Checking for the normal discomforts (wet diaper etc.) and making sure they're taken care of, burping (perhaps she just has gas which can trigger her to want to suckle but will only actually make the gas worse) and rocking and soft lullabies to help her fall asleep.

    This section is in the newborn section of the book.

    Answer by NovemberLove at 4:21 PM on Apr. 20, 2009

  • if my son got fussy and didnt take his binkie but wasnt hungry i'de let him suck on my pinky, always making sure to keep the nail short and my hands clean. if you do this make sure your finger is upside down so that its touching the roof of her mouth, it stimulates her the same way feeding and a binky would and saves you the sore nipples of constant suckling.

    Answer by stephmiester87 at 4:22 PM on Apr. 20, 2009

  • Letting a baby comfort nurse at the breast does NOT lead to baby over eating or becoming overweight! Crying is NOT a way for baby to "unwind". What a bunch of misinformation in that book!
    Use the breast as a "pacifier" that is what they are there for! Pacifiers are artificial substitutes for what the breast does naturally. Breastfed babies often nurse to sleep for naps and bedtime.
    When you offer the breast for comfort, you are encouraging your baby to turn to you for comfort instead of a non-human object. The human contact matters more than the milk. Plus, breastfeeding for comfort keeps your supply plentiful and reminds the baby that by breastfeeding he can help himself to feel good again.
    Breastfed babies can do their comfort sucking right at the breast, because the mother's milk flow slows to a trickle as the baby's sucking becomes less intense. Babies can continue sucking without stuffing themselves.

    Answer by maggiemom2000 at 4:43 PM on Apr. 20, 2009

  • I'm sorry NovemberLove, I know you are trying to help, but that book is ridiculous! Overweight, seriously? lol. I wouldn't take any breastfeeding advice offered from that book.

    Answer by LeanneC at 4:45 PM on Apr. 20, 2009

  • WTE is one of THE worst places for breastfeeding advice.

    Answer by Krysta622 at 5:03 PM on Apr. 20, 2009

  • Do not take any breastfeeding advice from What To Expect the First Year. Seriously, is is awful. It has great advice for other stuff, but nursing is just not it.

    This is normal. She needs to suck. Babies use the breast as more than foodd.

    Answer by apexmommy at 5:25 PM on Apr. 20, 2009

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