Wondering if you should plunk in that pacifier as soon as you hear your baby whimper? Well, you are not alone; this is a common question among moms. Over the years parents have been dependent on pacifiers to calm crying babies. However, the use of baby pacifiers has some advantages and disadvantages. Here are the pros and cons of using baby pacifiers.
Advantages of Pacifier use
Prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
According to a New Zealand Cot Death Study, baby pacifiers prevent SIDS but if your baby is using the pacifier while sleeping, the risk of SIDS is reduced significantly; by a half or more.
Suck reflex satisfaction
Toddlers have the constant natural need to suckle and by use of a bottle and breast, this need can be satisfied. However, this need to suck may even linger in times when the baby has just fed, and the belly is full. During such times, a pacifier will come in handy, all you need to do is make certain that the pacifier does not replace feeding time.
Helps baby to control their feelings
Pacifiers help the baby to learn how to self-soothe; it enables the baby to control the feelings they may have that cause them to be restless and insecure. This comfort element brought by pacifiers creates a win-win situation for both the baby and the parents; If the baby is calm, then the parents are just as calm.
During painful procedures for example when the child must be injected, a pacifier, gets their mind off the ongoing of the procedure, thus ensuring that the baby stays calmer throughout the process than a non-user.
Pacifiers ensure that you stay in control
This is a great thing in moments when nothing else other than the pacifier can generate calm for your little one. Unlike the finger sucking that puts your baby in control, the use of pacifiers is in your control; you get to determine when to use it and when not to. In fact, you get to decide when it’s time for your baby to stop using the pacifier. Don’t worry if you are feeling like you are being a “bad” mom by choosing when to allow, or not allow, your baby to use their pacifier. This is a fear many mother’s can actually experience as a new mom.
The Downside of using pacifiers
Nursing should be a natural process. However, in some cases, you must be patient as it may take you and your baby a while to get that nipple know-how. To ensure that you are in a good breastfeeding pattern, avoid using a pacifier during the first few weeks and feed your baby directly from the breasts. This way, your baby will not prefer the pacifier to your breast causing you to experience breastfeeding troubles. In fact, doctors recommend that moms offer pacifiers to children when they are 3 to 4 weeks old.
Experts have associated use of baby pacifiers with increased ear infections more so otitis media. However, experts found that a proper intervention for such infections was to limit the use of pacifiers to bedtime.
Dental malocclusions such as crossbites in the posterior region of the teeth have been found to be common in babies that use pacifiers that those that don’t. However, infants that do not use pacifiers, are more likely to suck on their fingers- which is a habit that is quite hard to stop.
Overlooking Serious Problems
It is undeniable that pacifiers can work magic for a mom particularly during those days that your child is super-cranky. However, the use of the pacifier could be considered as one of the bad habits that most modern moms have adopted. Every time a mom notices the baby is about to cry, they plunk in the pacifier as soon as they can; This may cause you to overlook an underlying problem, for example, your child could be crying because their tummy hurts.
Safety measures for the use of Pacifiers
- When you place your baby in the crib, insert the pacifier at that time but never reinsert it once they fall asleep
- Look out for the length of the string, cord or ribbon of the pacifier; it should not be longer than 6 inches. Also, you should never attach it to the baby’s neck or wrist as they could easily get strangled by the cord.
- Avoid using pacifiers that have attached parts, for example, the homemade pacifiers that normally have a moustache that is glued on. These features will look adorable on your little one but if they are not built in, there is a great risk of the falling off and chocking the baby.
- Clean the pacifier thoroughly with warm water and soap daily.
- Do not dip the pacifier in sugary substances such as sugar or honey as they will destroy your baby’s gums and pearly white.
- Never offer the pacifier to your baby when they are hungry; pacifiers should never be a replacement for mealtime. Instead, feed the baby first then offer him or her the pacifier.
Horne, R. S., Hauck, F. R., Moon, R. Y., L’hoir, M. P., & Blair, P. S. (2014). Physiology and Epidemiology Working Groups of the International Society for the Study and Prevention of Perinatal and Infant Death. Dummy (pacifier) use and sudden infant death syndrome: potential advantages and disadvantages. J Paediatr Child Health, 50(3), 170-4.