The Pros and Cons of Giving Your Baby a Pacifier
Some parents are hesitant to give their baby a pacifier because they hear so many negative things about them. This negativity often conjures up mental pictures of 3 & 4 year olds still dependent upon their “binky”. The bottom line is that the use of a pacifier is entirely your decision as a parent. So let’s explore some of the pros and cons of pacifier use in order to help you decide what might be best for your child and family.
- Recent studies have shown that the use of a pacifier may reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). It is thought that sucking on a pacifier may prevent younger babies from sleeping too deeply which makes them less susceptible to SIDS. Also, sucking on the pacifier may open the airway better to prevent loss of oxygen. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that babies under the age of one use a pacifier at nap and bed time for this reason.
- Babies are born with a reflex that gives them a strong urge to suck, and some babies even suck their thumbs or fingers in the womb. Sucking on a pacifier has a soothing effect on babies and sometimes a pacifier can help calm very young infants before they are able to bring their hands to their mouths to self-soothe.
- Pacifiers have been effective on airplanes to help babies with the discomfort of the changes in air pressure which can make their ears hurt.
- Pacifiers help calm babies when fussy and soothe them during stress or medical procedures such as shots or blood work.
- Pacifiers are not recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for babies who are breast fed and are under the age of one month. They recommend that you establish good nursing patterns with your infant first, especially since milk supply is dependent upon the baby’s ability to suck from the breast.
- Pacifier use has been associated with children developing middle ear infections.
- Children can become overly dependent upon pacifiers.
- Prolonged pacifier use can cause dental problems, especially making a child’s top upper teeth jut outward or to the sides.
- Pacifier use can disrupt sleep patterns if a baby always needs it to fall asleep or awakens at night and cannot go back to sleep without it.
If you decide that pacifier use is right for your baby, select pacifiers that are made of silicone & in one piece because two piece pacifiers can pose a choking hazard. If you are nursing, wait until breast feeding patterns are established and don’t introduce a pacifier before the age of 4 weeks. If your baby refuses a pacifier, don’t force it on him. If the pacifier falls out of your baby’s mouth while he is asleep, don’t put it back in his mouth for him. Keep pacifiers clean by washing them with soap and water or running them through your dishwasher. Do not use pacifier clips or strings to attach the pacifier to your baby’s clothing as these pose strangulation hazards. Check pacifiers regularly for signs of wear or deterioration. Begin to wean your baby from pacifier use after the age of one.