Becoming a new parent can be an overwhelming experience. It’s a beautiful experience in every way. But caring for an infant can be challenging. Being responsible for a little human being, who is completely dependent on you is a tough job when your baby is up, literally all night, wanting to be held, leaving you exhausted and confused as to what you should do.
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 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, 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 bed, but advise the pacifier should never be attached to the baby or crib as it can become 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. Pacifiers are also used to help distract your baby while they get shots, or while families are getting a bottle ready.
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.
Using a pacifier may also cause problems when it comes to your baby’s health. Long-term use of the pacifier can affect the way your child’s mouth and teeth development. This may lead to dental problems such as overbite or cross bite. Research also suggests that the use of the pacifier leads to higher rates of inner ear infections.
Families that do not choose to use a pacifier may choose not to simply because it can become addictive to your baby and families may find themselves up in the middle of the night when the pacifier falls out of their child’s mouth.
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.