Comfort Feeding – 5 Reasons Why It’s Great For Mamas And Babies

Comfort Feeding - 5 Reasons Why It's Great For Mamas And Babies

Have you ever heard of the phrase, “She’s just using you like a dummy/pacifier?”

Most breastfeeding mothers have.

This phrase is often used to describe when a baby sucks at his mother’s breast but is not swallowing – also known as comfort feeding.

Can a baby really use a breast like a dummy?

Well, because one is artificially made and the other is completely natural, perhaps it is the other way around.

Perhaps a baby could use a dummy like a breast.

In other words, a dummy, for example, is a substitute for a baby sucking at the breast.

Can comfort feeding at the breast be beneficial? Yes, it can.

How Comfort Feeding Helps You And Your Baby

Here are 5 reasons why it is good for mothers and babies.

#1: Comfort Feeding Helps To Meet Your Baby’s Needs

Breastfeeding is much more than just nutrition. It’s also about comfort, protection and nurturing.

Sometimes, when a baby wants to breastfeed, it’s not so much about him being hungry, but rather him wanting to suck for comfort. A baby may want to breastfeed if he has pain, to help him go to sleep if he is tired, etc.

By breastfeeding your baby in response to his cues, you are helping to make sure all his needs are met in the most natural way possible.

#2: Comfort Feeding Can Soothe An Unsettled Baby

If your baby is unsettled (crying a lot and not settling to sleep), allowing him to comfort feed can help to give you both some much needed peace and quiet.

It is important to ensure your baby is positioned and attached well throughout feeds so that your nipples don’t become sore and damaged.

#3: Comfort Feeding Can Boost Your Milk Supply

The longer a baby stays sucking at the breast, the more potential let-down reflexes you will have.

The let-down reflex is where the hormone oxytocin allows milk to be pushed out of your milk-making (glandular) tissue, into your milk ducts and our through your nipple so that your milk is made available to your baby.

The more let-down reflexes you have, the more milk that gets removed. The more milk that gets removed, the more milk you will make.

#4: Comfort Feeding Helps Drain Your Breast

The fuller the breast, the slower the rate that it makes more milk. The more drained the breast, the faster the rate that more milk gets made.

If a baby finishes a feed with comfort sucking, more let-down reflexes could occur, more milk is removed and the breast becomes more drained. This means that the rate at which more milk gets made after the feed is increased.

#5: Comfort Feeding Provides Premature Babies With An Introduction To Breastfeeding

Many premature babies are unable to breastfeed optimally straight away after birth.

Nonetheless, opportunities for comfort feeding or sucking (combined with kangaroo care) as early as possible, helps premature babies learn how to breastfeed well, and it creates a positive association with breastfeeding.

When it comes to breastfeeding, the less rules the better. Don’t waste energy and time agonising over how often, how long or for what reasons your baby breastfeeds. No matter the reason, they are all normal and valid reasons. Comfort them, help them go off to sleep and feel safe with breastfeeding – it’s something mothers have been doing for a very long time – long before dummies or bottles existed!



Renee Kam is mother to Jessica and Lara, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC), a physiotherapist, author of 'The Newborn Baby Manual' and an Australian Breastfeeding Association Counsellor. In her spare time, Renee enjoys spending time with family and friends, horse riding, running and reading.

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