What is Nipple Confusion? 

Nipple confusion can occur when introducing a bottle or dummy before breastfeeding is established and this can cause issues with babies either preferring bottle feeding to breastfeeding or nipple confusion. We’re thankful that QudoTM Soother has not caused nipple confusion during the research trials and one parent recently said “I wouldn’t have used a soother at this point if it wasn’t for knowing that the QudoTM Soother doesn’t give nipple confusion.” Her baby was one week old when she started using a prototype of QudoTM Soother in November 2022. 

So let’s explore the signs that your baby is suffering from nipple confusion and offer some preventative solutions. 

Nipple confusion is most commonly experienced by premature babies, babies with a weaker suck or imperfect latch, or those to have a tongue-tie who struggle with breastfeeding. However, it can affect any baby and can be a stressful and overwhelming experience for mothers with newborns. Here are some of the symptoms to look out for: 

  • Difficulties with latching
  • Changes in sucking patterns
  • Crying during feeds
  • Breast engorgement

Don’t let nipple confusion put you off breastfeeding. While it can be frustrating, there are solutions, here are our top tips:

  • Don’t introduce a dummy or bottle until breastfeeding is established.
  • Express some milk into the baby’s mouth to encourage them to latch. 
  • Look out for signs your baby is getting hungry so you have time to encourage them before they get frustrated and too hungry.
  • If a baby needs extra supplements consider using a spoon or a supplemental nursing system.
  • Breastfeeding is a learned behaviour, be patient and persistent.  

Despite many legitimising nipple confusion, there are controversies surrounding the matter. Experts question whether nipple confusion really exists. Many argue that babies who struggle with breastfeeding suffer because they are bottle fed if they are experiencing breastfeeding struggles, not because the bottles or dummies trigger the problem. The flow of milk can be easier for some babies who may be struggling to latch properly or have a weaker suck, so some babies may prefer bottle feeding to breast once they have experienced it. 

Our takeaway…

There is no objective evidence that bottles or dummies cause breastfeeding issues, but it is advised to establish good breastfeeding habits before introducing alternatives. If you are finding breastfeeding an overwhelming task, reach out to family and friends for support or speak to your health visitor. There are many breastfeeding specialists who may be able to provide support as well. 

Resources to look for support:

National Breastfeeding Helpline 

NHS breastfeeding

La Leche  

22 December 2022