Why is a baby pacifier really needed, and is it good for your baby?
In order to answer those questions, we must first try to understand the benefits and drawbacks of using them, as well as the appropriate way to use theme effectively without the associated risks.
So why are baby pacifiers needed?
Because there are many babies out there that have a strong reflex which makes them want to suck, many mothers employ the help of baby pacifiers. Through 3D imaging techniques, it has been demonstrated that some babies start to suck on their fingers and toes even before they are born.
Although the main purpose of sucking is nutrition, it can have multiple other roles such as providing comfort to babies and helping them calm down. That’s one of the main reasons why many parents consider baby pacifiers as a must-have in the house, for their calming and soothing effects.
The advantages of using baby pacifiers
There is no denying in the extraordinary, sometimes almost magical effects a gumdrop pacifier can have on your baby. The calming and soothing effects can be easily seen. This is especially true when it comes to those types of babies that are not satisfied from sucking only during feeding. Here are some advantages that a baby pacifier might have when using it on your baby:
- Fussy or easy irritable babies might be calmed down easily when given something to suck on
- Baby pacifiers can be successfully used in temporarily distracting your baby in case you need to do things such as blood tests, shots or other procedures
- If you have difficulties putting your baby to sleep, a baby pacifier might help him settle down and allow him to fall asleep
- Using pacifiers during flights might also help ease the discomforts associated with flying, since babies have no means to relieve the ear pain that is being caused by changes in the air pressure; since they can’t yawn or swallow like we do in order to pop their years, a baby pacifier might be of great help
- There are many studies which have shown that using baby pacifiers during sleep greatly reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
- Because they are disposable, baby pacifiers can be easily discarded once they have outlived their usefulness; that can’t be said if the baby develops the habit of sucking on his thumbs or toes, for example
The drawbacks of using baby pacifiers
Besides their soothing and calming effects, baby pacifiers also come with a range of disadvantages, which is why parents should balance these well before employing their use. Drawbacks of using baby pacifiers include:
- Using a pacifier early on might have a negative effect and interfere with breastfeeding, since babies are extremely sensitive to the differences between sucking on a breast and sucking on a bottle or a pacifier; many babies are affected by these differences, and according to some studies, early use of artificial nipples can decrease both exclusive breastfeeding and its duration, although whether breastfeeding problems are caused by artificial nipples or they just solve an already existing solution is still unknown
- If your baby has access to a pacifier for too long he might develop dependence on it, which might cause a lot of difficulties and result in you being woken in the middle of the night by baby screams if he is used to sleeping with a pacifier and it falls out of his mouth
- There have been many associations made between frequent use of pacifiers and the development of middle ear infections; despite this fact, the chances of your baby of developing ear infections during the first 6 months is quite low, while at the same time, your baby might be very interested in a pacifier, which could help prevent the sudden infant death syndrome
- Using pacifiers for extended periods of time might also cause dental problems, although normal usage for the first few years of life won’t cause permanent dental problems; if the period of usage is prolonged, there is the risk of having the front teeth slanted outwards
When and how should you give pacifiers to your baby?
Some general tips on using pacifiers on your baby include:
- If you’re keen on giving a pacifier to your baby, it is recommended until you have already established a normal breastfeeding routine; you should take the time and give the baby a few weeks until he gets used to regular breastfeeding
- You shouldn’t use pacifiers as a first method to solve problems, because there are many occasions when changing the position of the baby or rocking him gently is what is needed to calm him, and you shouldn’t allow the baby to use the pacifier for the whole duration of the day
- You should make sure to choose a safe pacifier such as a silicone one-piece, since the ones made of two pieces can break and represent a choking hazard
- Don’t overuse the pacifier; if the baby seems uninterested in it or is sleeping and it falls out, don’t put it back into his mouth
- In order to avoid infections and other types of problems, you should make sure that the pacifier is kept clean at all times; the baby’s immune system is pretty weak until he reaches 6 months of age, so boiling the pacifiers or running them through dishwashers is recommended
- Ensure that the pacifier is safe at all times, watch for deterioration signs and ensure it is of the right size
What do pediatrics say about the usage of pacifiers?
The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends the use of baby pacifiers whenever the baby goes to sleep up until age 1 in order to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Because the risks start to outweigh the benefits as the babies get older, it is important to stop using them when they are no longer needed. For most children, this is usually between 2 and 4 years of age, although some babies might need help in order to break the habit.