Many parents, especially new parents, may have a lot of questions and may be nervous about decisions that need to be made regarding your parenting style. One topic that draws a lot of discussion when you have a baby is whether or not to use a pacifier. Depending on who you ask, the pacifier is known to be a lifesaver, especially for fussy babies, or it is thought to be the start of a bad habit that can become very difficult to break. For parents who aren’t sure if they want to use a pacifier with their child, it’s important to know what the benefits and disadvantages are.
Benefits of a Pacifier
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, (AAP), using a pacifier has shown to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The AAP encourages families to use a pacifier when putting a baby down for a nap or to bed, but advise the pacifier should never be attached to the baby or crib as this can create a choking hazard.
Babies have a natural desire to suck. Allowing your child to have a pacifier can help satisfy their instinct in between feedings, while keeping your baby calm and soothed. Pacifiers can be a great way for babies to learn to self-soothe without needing to be held, rocked, or fed.
Many families also encourage the use of a pacifier because it may be easier to wean your child off of using a pacifier than it is to break the habit of sucking their fingers or thumbs.
Disadvantages of a Pacifier
If you are planning to breastfeed, introducing a pacifier to your baby too early may interfere with how well your baby takes to breastfeeding. The way a baby latches on to the nipple is different than the way a baby would latch on to a pacifier or bottle, so the AAP suggests waiting 3-4 weeks, or until you’ve established an effective nursing schedule, to introduce your baby to a pacifier.
At Educational Playcare, we want the best for the children in our care, which is why Wellness is one of our Core Values. It’s important that families understand that using a pacifier can be somewhat detrimental when it comes to your baby’s health. Long-term use of a pacifier can affect the way your child’s mouth and teeth develop. This may lead to dental problems such as an overbite or a cross bite. Research also suggests that the use of a pacifier may lead to higher rates of inner ear infections.
Although a minor inconvenience, some families also do not care for using a pacifier simply because it is likley that you will need to get up multiple times in the middle of the night to put it back in your child’s mouth until they are old enough to do so themselves.
Tips for Using the Pacifier
If families decide to use a pacifier, here are some things to remember:
- If planning to breastfeed, first establish an effective nursing schedule.
- Do not use sugar on the pacifier as it can lead to dental issues.
- Keep the pacifier clean. Babies immune systems need to develop, so cleaning the pacifier thoroughly between uses will help defend against illnesses.
- Don’t force the pacifier on your baby. Only give it if he or she is interested in it.
- Use the appropriate size pacifier for your child.
If you are unsure of whether or not to introduce the pacifier to your child, speak to your child’s pediatrician about the pros and cons and any concerns you may have. At the end of the day, the “right decision” is the decision you and your partner are most comfortable with.