As a mother I know this is a hot topic among parents; many fall on the ‘yes’ side while just as many fall on the ‘no’ side. I personally used pacifiers with my children as well as my grandchildren. However a little common sense can go a long way. Don’t choose pacifiers that are small, babies can and have been known to swallow them on rare occasions.
New parents get hit with a lot of information and opinion, much of it conflicting. One of the topics that parents of babies have to face is the pacifier issue, and it’s not always a clear “yes or no.” The key is to get the facts and make your own informed decision.
Here are some of the pros and cons of using a pacifier.
1. Quiet in Public
For nursing moms especially, soothing a baby in public can be tricky. A pacifier can temporarily help until you’re able to get somewhere to nurse or fix a bottle, or it can stand in if baby isn’t hungry but just needs to feel secure.
2. SIDS Prevention
Interestingly, the American Academy of Pediatrics notes that babies who fall asleep with a pacifier in their first year are less likely to succumb to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). The standard caution, though, is not to put the pacifier back in the baby’s mouth once he or she is asleep.
3. Sates High Sucking Need Babies
While all babies are born with a sucking reflex, some babies have a high sucking need that goes beyond what a bottle or breast can supply (and what parents’ sanity can take). A pacifier can help meet this need while not exhausting caregivers.
It may be that pacifiers facilitate the weaning process, including “weaning” from thumb-sucking.
1. Ear Infections
Recent studies have linked pacifier use with ear infections, possibly because of the pressure change that occurs between the middle ear and throat when baby sucks on a pacifier (and there is no liquid intake associated with the sucking).
2. Speech and Dental Health
Pacifiers are artificial devices, no matter how carefully manufactured. Therefore, they can unnaturally affect jaw and tooth alignment, especially if pacifiers are used later in infancy and into the toddler years. Misalignment can lead to dental issues (and expensive corrections) and speech problems.
3. Nipple Confusion
Early introduction of a pacifier may promote “nipple confusion,” meaning the baby won’t accept the breast because it doesn’t feel like the pacifier in his or her mouth. Experts recommend waiting until breastfeeding is well established before introducing a pacifier (if you choose to do so).
4. Less Nutrition
Remember that for all of human history until the last century or so, there was no such thing as pacifiers. A baby’s suck reflex is geared toward the breast in general, which means nutritional intake; and sometimes the need for nutrition kicks in and the baby wants to suck more. If parents offer pacifiers when baby needs extra nutrition (such as during illness), it may mean that baby isn’t getting the nutrients he or she needs.
Remember, the choice is yours; only you know your family dynamic and what works for you and your baby.