How to Introduce Solids without Sacrificing Breastfeeding

A study published in The British Medical Journal in 2004 found that allowing babies to nurse during painful medical procedures appears to relieve pain.  The study observed 180 newborns who were placed into 1 of four groups when having blood taken for various reasons.  Babies in the first group were allowed to nurse; those in the second were held by their mothers but not fed; babies in the third group were given water as a placebo; and those in the fourth were given sugar water and a pacifier.

The babies were videotaped during the procedure; and researchers, who were not told of the details of the study, reviewed the tapes.  They measured the babies’ pain levels by documenting signs such as heart rate, crying, and facial expression.  Sixteen of the 44 infants in the breastfeeding group showed no indications that the blood test had even occurred; and 35 had pain scores of less than 3, which can be perceived as little or no pain.

These results prompted researchers to conclude:

 “To date the most potent nonpharmacological analgesia reported has been the use of a pacifier combined with a sweet solution.  We have shown that breast feeding {sic} is at least as effective as that observed with 30% glucose plus sucking a pacifier.  We believe that breast feeding is an excellent natural alternative to prevent or reduce pain during minor daily procedures undergone by neonates.”

So, the next time your baby needs to have a blood test or vaccination, remind your pediatrician of this research, and nurse with that needle!


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