How important is sucking?

Sucking is one of a baby’s first reflexes, it starts when they are growing in the womb and is vital for your baby to receive the food it needs in the form of milk but also helps to comfort and calm your baby.

Sucking helps regulate the central nervous system, reducing cortisol (the stress hormone), lowering their heart rate and blood pressure. Research also suggests sucking a soother can reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Even when your baby has finished feeding, they may still want or need to suck because some babies want to suck more than others, this is completely normal and as we know, every baby is different and has slightly different needs.  

Nutritive sucking (NS) is when a baby is sucking to feed and gain the nutrition it needs to grow. 

Non-nutritive sucking (NNS) is when a baby sucks without receiving any nutrition, for example on a dummy, a little finger or an empty breast. Babies of all ages find sucking soothing. From as early as 11 weeks’ gestation the baby in your womb will have gained practice and experience of sucking.

Using a soother or little finger, turned upside down, between feeds can be extremely beneficial for your baby. Not only can it provoke calm but also helps your baby’s digestion. When your baby sucks on a soother or little finger, they swallow more saliva which holds necessary digestive enzymes to break down their milk. 

Researchers have noted that sucking between feeds can help babies suffering with reflux.  They found babies who sucked on soothers had fewer and shorter episodes of gastroesophageal or “acid” reflux by stimulating the flow of saliva and downward contractions of the oesophagus. Together, these actions help to more quickly move the highly irritating stomach fluid back where it belongs.

Giving your sucky baby a soother or little finger between feeds will also help reduce unnecessary sucking on your breast which can cause discomfort or sore nipples. 

The suck, swallow and breathe coordination can be aided by non nutritive sucking as it also aids neurobehavioural organisation and maturation. 

When to introduce a soother? 

Medical advice is that bottle-fed babies can be given a soother from birth. It is recommended that breastfed babies can start using a soother as soon as breastfeeding is established. 

SIDS and soothers

Scientists have discovered that sucking a dummy at bedtime and sleep times can lower your baby’s risk of SIDS. The lullaby Trust say “We do not know exactly what it is about a dummy that may help reduce the chance of a baby dying of SIDS. As with most of the safer sleep information, we only know that there is good evidence to show what you can do to reduce the chance of SIDS”. For more information visit:

The Qudo Soother is specifically designed to reduce persistent crying, colic, reflux and support development of a strong suck, swallow, breathe reflex.

14 February 2022