Comfort Nursing: Benefits And Concerns


Comfort nursing, also known as non-nutritive sucking, is a natural and common behaviour among babies. It involves a baby breastfeeding not for hunger but for comfort, soothing, or relaxation. For many parents, understanding comfort nursing and its significance is essential to nurturing a strong bond with their little ones.

comfort nursing

In This Article:

Is It Normal For Babies To Be Fed For Comfort?

Comfort nursing is absolutely normal for babies. In fact, it is a crucial aspect of their emotional and physical development. Babies have an innate need for comfort and security, and breastfeeding provides them with warmth, closeness, and reassurance. When a baby engages in comfort nursing, it helps them feel secure and content, contributing to their overall well-being. It’s important for parents to recognise that comfort nursing is a valid form of communication and connection between them and their baby.


How Do You Tell If a Baby Is Comfortable Nursing?

Recognising when a baby is comfortable nursing can sometimes be a challenge for parents. However, there are certain signs that can help identify comfort nursing. Typically, a baby who is comfort nursing will exhibit slower, more rhythmic sucking patterns as opposed to the quick, active sucking during a feeding for hunger. Additionally, the baby may seem relaxed and content while nursing, with their body language indicating a sense of comfort and relaxation. Understanding these cues can help parents differentiate between comfort nursing and feeding for hunger, enabling them to respond appropriately to their baby’s needs.

Are Flutter Sucking And Comfort Sucking Similar?

Flutter sucking and comfort sucking are related but slightly different. Flutter sucking refers to the rapid, light sucking movements a baby makes at the breast when the milk flow is slow, typically towards the end of a feeding session. On the other hand, comfort sucking involves a slower, more relaxed sucking motion, often with pauses, as the baby seeks comfort and relaxation rather than nourishment. While both behaviours serve a purpose in helping the baby regulate their sucking reflex and find comfort, it’s important for parents to be able to distinguish between the two to ensure that the baby’s needs are being met appropriately.

What Are the Benefits of Comfort Nursing for Babies?

Soothing and Comfort

One of the primary benefits of comfort nursing for babies is its ability to provide soothing and comfort. Nursing offers a unique form of closeness and security, creating a sense of warmth and safety for the baby. This close contact with the mother during comfort nursing can help reduce stress and anxiety in infants, promoting a sense of calm and emotional well-being.

Enhanced Bonding

Comfort nursing contributes to the development of a strong emotional bond between the baby and the mother. The physical closeness and skin-to-skin contact that occur during comfort nursing foster a deep connection, promoting trust and security. This bonding experience can have long-lasting positive effects on the mother-child relationship.


Regulation of Sleep Patterns

Comfort nursing can assist in regulating a baby’s sleep patterns. The act of nursing releases hormones that promote relaxation and drowsiness, making it easier for babies to fall asleep. Additionally, comfort nursing provides a means for babies to self-soothe and can help them transition to sleep more easily, resulting in improved sleep quality for both the baby and the parents.

Pain Relief

Breastfeeding, including comfort nursing, can serve as a natural pain reliever for babies. The sucking action triggers the release of endorphins, which are the body’s natural painkillers. For babies undergoing medical procedures or experiencing discomfort, comfort nursing can offer relief and comfort, serving as a source of natural analgesia.

Continuous Nutrition and Hydration

In addition to providing emotional and comfort benefits, comfort nursing ensures that babies maintain consistent access to nutrition and hydration throughout the day. Even if the baby is not actively feeding, comfort nursing allows for frequent, on-demand access to breast milk, helping to keep infants well-fed and adequately hydrated.

Can Comfort Nursing Be A Problem?

The concept of comfort nursing being a problem largely depends on individual perspectives and the specific needs of the baby and parents. For some families, comfort nursing may be a natural and beneficial part of their bonding and caregiving routine. It can help babies feel secure, soothe their distress, and promote a strong sense of attachment.

However, there are instances where comfort nursing may pose challenges for parents. For example, some mothers may feel overwhelmed by the constant need for their baby to nurse, particularly if they’re struggling with breastfeeding discomfort or if it interferes with their ability to tend to other responsibilities. Additionally, there may be concerns about the baby’s reliance on nursing for comfort and the impact on their ability to self-soothe.


How to Stop a Baby from Comfort Nursing?

If parents feel that comfort nursing is becoming challenging or disruptive, there are strategies they can employ to help redirect the baby’s behavior. Firstly, it’s important for parents to understand that comfort nursing serves a vital emotional purpose for the baby and should not be abruptly eliminated without considering alternative soothing methods.

Parents can gradually introduce other soothing techniques, such as gentle rocking, swaddling, or offering a pacifier, to help the baby transition from relying solely on nursing for comfort. Creating a consistent bedtime routine and providing a comforting environment can also help reduce the need for comfort nursing at night.

For mothers experiencing breastfeeding discomfort or feeling overwhelmed by the frequency of nursing, seeking support from lactation consultants or healthcare professionals can be beneficial. They can offer guidance on addressing any breastfeeding challenges and provide reassurance to parents about the normalcy of comfort nursing.


Comfort nursing is a natural and common behaviour among babies that provides them with a sense of comfort, security, and relaxation. While it offers numerous benefits, it is essential for parents to monitor their baby’s nursing patterns to ensure that they are receiving adequate nutrition. By understanding the signs of comfort nursing and implementing strategies to manage it, parents can support their baby’s well-being while fostering a healthy nursing relationship.