Nipple confusion: Yes, no, maybe?

Time-frame: 60-75 minutes
CERP: yes

Ambiguity exists regarding the term “nipple confusion.” Various definitions have been put forth to describe an infant’s difficulty with latching or feeding at breast following exposure to artificial nipples. Conflicting recommendations may further cloud the topic, as the World Health Organization recommends that no artificial nipples be given to neonates while the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the use of pacifiers as a method to prevent sudden infant death. Sucking at the breast requires a different mouth conformation than does sucking on an artificial nipple. Once exposed to an artificial nipple, some neonates experience a preference for the artificial nipple, refusing the breast or demonstrating difficulty in attachment to the maternal breast. This presentation will explore definitions and evidence for and against this phenomenon, discuss whether nipple confusion is a cause or result of breastfeeding difficulties, examine the differences between the properties of the human nipple/areola and the artificial nipple, discuss the concept of imprinting, and strategize interventions that may provide remedies for infants with latching and feeding difficulties following expose to artificial nipples.



Marsha Walker RN, IBCLC


Phone number: 781-893-3553
Email: Marshalact@aol.com

Publications