Your little one was born with a strong sucking reflex and finds a lot of comfort in sucking from the breast or bottle. However, baby can only suck at the bottle or breast for so long before exhaustion (on your part!) or fullness kicks in. So, what can a parent do to fulfill baby’s strong desire to suck? Thankfully, parents can offer baby a pacifier – a small, rubbery nipple designed to mimic mom’s anatomy.
Pacifiers aren’t a new concept. Archaeologists have discovered pacifier like items made of silver, clay and pearl among thousand-year-old ruins. Although most pacifiers today are made of silicone or rubber, the overall concept hasn’t really changed much. Pacifier use is widespread and according to statistics, more than 60 percent of babies use a pacifier. For many parents, pacifiers or pacis as they are also called, are a must have. But, are pacifiers good for baby?
When it comes to pacifiers, there’s not one right answer. Understanding the risks and benefits associated with pacifier use is important when deciding whether or not to give your little one a pacifier.
As mentioned above, pacifiers provide baby with comfort, and help to soothe and calm her. Most babies are happiest when sucking on a pacifier, thumb or other type of teething toy.
Pacifiers can be a source of distraction when visiting the doctor, on a flight or waiting in line at the store. Most experts don’t recommend using pacifiers as a bargaining chip all the time, but occasionally it’s ok.
Pacifier use can help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). If you’re breastfeeding, it’s best to wait at least 3 or 4 weeks before introducing a pacifier, but studies have shown pacifier use helps reduce the likelihood of SIDS. Although the exact correlation between pacifiers and a decrease in SIDS is not known, it’s believed pacifiers help maintain airways, decrease reflux, and decrease the chance of baby rolling over.
Pacifiers can increase the risk of ear infections. According to a Finish study, children who did not use a pacifier had about one-third less ear infections than babies who used a pacifier. Pacifier use is believed to increase the likelihood of fluid getting stuck in the middle of the ear, which can lead to infection. Also, an increase in infections may also be attributed to the germs harbored by pacifiers.
In addition to ear infections, pacifiers can also increase the likelihood of your baby experiencing dental problems. The long-term use of a pacifier can shift the shape of the mouth and teeth, which can lead to dental issues like an overbite, under bite or cross bite. Most experts agree that pacifier use should be kept to a minimum or eliminated by the age of 2.
Pacifiers can be addictive. Pacifiers provides your baby comfort and feel good, so it’s not surprising how easily a pacifier can become a crutch for baby. To prevent meltdowns when the pacifier isn’t there, it’s best to begin weaning baby off of the paci by 6 months of age.
Keep in mind, some babies will refuse to take a pacifier and that’s ok. You may have to find another source of comfort for your little one.
As you can see there are several advantages and disadvantages to using a pacifier, so whether you choose to use or not use a pacifier, there is no right or wrong way.