A pacifier is an artificial nipple with a handle which helps to comfort babies. Most pacifiers have a nipple, a guard and a ring. The guard prevents the baby from taking the entire nipple into his mouth and the ring helps to provide a grip.
Pacifiers, also known as soothers, dummies and artificial teats are as rooted in history as they are in controversy. There is always a concern as a parent whether we must use or not use a pacifier. As a new parent, you often worry about your little one’s comfort & wellbeing and you might find a pacifier very helpful.
While some babies are comforted with rocking, cuddling and sucking during the feeds, others just can’t seem to get enough of it. If your newborn still fussy after you’ve fed, burped, rocked and cuddled him, then a pacifier can come for your rescue. It’s easy to use and provides instant comfort to your baby but that’s just one part of the story.
There is no appropriate age of introducing a pacifier to the baby. It basically depends on the fact whether you’re going to breastfeed your baby or not. If you’re going to bottle-feed your baby, you can give a pacifier alongside as some babies tend to suck the nipple without ingesting any milk. Doing so from a bottle can cause gas. Some experts, however, advise that one should not introduce a pacifier until the baby has gained some weight. If you’re going to breastfeed your baby, it is advisable to introduce a pacifier only after 6 weeks since it can cause a confusion in the baby regarding the nipples.
Whenever you plan to give a pacifier to your baby, you need to take care of the following points:
However, some babies do not like the feel of a pacifier. Here are a few reasons:
Also Read: How to Soothe a Crying Baby in Minutes?
A single pacifier cannot be used all the time. You’ll have to replace the pacifier in the following situations:
Also Read: Essential Vaccination Chart for Babies
The best way to clean your baby’s pacifier is to sterilize it just like you do for your baby’s bottles and nipples. Check the label and packaging of the pacifier to ensure there isn’t any special procedure for cleaning.
Image Source: amazon.com
If you thought choosing a pacifier is an easy task, you’re mistaken. Here are a few points that you should consider while buying a pacifier for your baby:
You need to pick up a pacifier depending upon the age of your baby:
0-6 Months – Small
6-18 Months – Medium
18 Months and above – Large
Different brands may have different sizes, so you should always check the recommended age and then buy the most suitable pacifier for your baby.
Although a single piece pacifier is the safest, some multiple piece pacifiers are also good. Just ensure that they are firmly attached else they can cause a choking hazard.
Pacifier nipples are made up of different materials:
Choose a bright colored pacifier as against a clear one as it is easier to spot and there are less chances of misplacing it.
The guard of the pacifier should be at least 1.5 inches long in order to avoid choking hazards. An ideal guard will have holes for ventilation to prevent moisture doesn’t get deposited on the baby’s face. This will allow air to pass and prevent a moisture rash.
A pacifier habit is easier to break than a thumb-sucking habit. Mothers find it very tough to break the habit of thumb sucking in babies but it is fairly easy to discontinue the use of a pacifier.
Some studies have shown that babies who use pacifiers at bedtime and nap time have a lower risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). These studies don’t show that the pacifier itself prevents SIDS, just that there’s a strong association between pacifier use and a lower risk of SIDS.
Another reason for this is that sucking on a pacifier might aid in opening up air space around an infant’s mouth and nose, thus ensuring adequate oxygen supply. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests the use of pacifiers for babies below 1 yr of age at naptime and bedtime (preferably after the baby is at least 1 month old).
Sucking on a pacifier after getting a vaccination can help to relieve pain.
Premature babies can benefit from sucking on a pacifier in the hospital. Their sucking reflex is developed much and while sucking a pacifier, they learn to suck as no breast milk flows from it and once they are discharged from the hospital, they can breastfeed with much ease.
Babies have a natural need to suck, be it a bottle or the breast. While part of the need is fulfilled during breastfeeding, some babies wish to keep sucking to feel secure and at ease. In this situation, pacifier is super useful as it doesn’t contain the drawbacks of thumb sucking. What’s more? The duration of sucking of a pacifier is in the control of the mother (unlike in the case of thumb sucking).
All the parents are familiar with the nightmare of making their newborns visit a doctor. If your baby becomes super fussy at the hospital, a pacifier might do the trick by temporarily distracting him. It can come in handy after or during blood tests, polio injections and other procedures.
Babies cannot purposely open their ears by swallowing to soothe the ear pain that is caused by air pressure changes during a flight. At such a time, sucking on a pacifier is the quickest hack to ease ear pain and make the baby calmer.
Image Source: thebump.com
The World Health Organization recommends against pacifier use.
-Step nine of the United Nations Children’s Fund/World Health Organization “Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative: Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding” states “give no artificial teats or pacifiers (also called dummies or soothers) to breastfeeding infants”. This advice is widely disseminated by health care professionals and laypersons alike. Here’s why:
Sucking a breast differs from sucking a pacifier or feeder bottle and some babies might be receptive to these differences. There are researches both supporting and disregarding the fact that pacifier use leads to reduced breastfeeding. Nevertheless, it is advised that pacifier should be used to calm a baby only when she has got the hang of breastfeeding and has grown in weight.
Prolonged unrestricted use of a pacifier (beyond two years of age) might lead to the improper or misaligned development of teeth. It might also cause some long-term dental problems. So make sure that you do not let your baby use the pacifier beyond two years of age. Doctors also suggest that growing tooth problems can be self-corrected in six months of ending pacifier use.
Some researchers also suggest a link between the use of the pacifier and increased risk of ear infections. Sucking a pacifier puts babies at twice the risk of developing an ear infection.
Pacifiers can cause problems with the speech and language development of the baby. They may not be able to articulate sounds properly.
If lost while sleeping, the absence of the pacifier may cause the baby to wake up and cry.
The pacifier may prevent the baby from using his/her mouth to learn and explore toys and other objects.
The use of a pacifier may signal to a baby that crying is unacceptable even though crying is one of a baby’s few means of communication.
A dirty pacifier can contribute to poor hygiene leading to infections.
This might also interest you: 8 Precautions in Breastfeeding when Mom is Sick (Including 5 Advantages)
If, after proper research and study, you finally come to the decision of giving a pacifier to your fussy baby, then make sure you follow these guidelines.
Many mothers commit the mistake of replacing breastfeeding with a pacifier. If a baby cries or fusses, then first make sure that she isn’t hungry or signaling towards a diaper change. You should give a pacifier to the baby only once all other needs are fulfilled and the baby still doesn’t stop crying. A good way is to give the pacifier only between two feeds.
Give a pacifier to the baby only if she takes it right away. Avoid forcing the use of a pacifier if your baby resists it. Respect your little one’s preference and act accordingly.
If your baby has trouble falling asleep, first try comforting her by cuddling, singing or rocking. If the problem still lingers, give her a pacifier. Avoid putting the pacifier back in her mouth once she has fallen asleep.
Opt for a pacifier that doesn’t contain additional decorations or attachments as they might fall off and pose a hazard to the baby. Thoroughly clean the pacifier with warm water and store in a dry place when not in use. Avoid cleaning the pacifier by putting it in your mouth as the bacteria might get transferred. Also, avoid cleaning the pacifier in sugar solution as it might lead to cavities. It is advised to opt for a pacifier which is BPA (bisphenol-A) free.
Make sure you do not tie the pacifier around the baby’s neck or to a crib as the baby might strangle himself to death. Attach the pacifier to his clothes with a clip specified for the same.
If your child has problems with nursing and gaining weight, then steer clear of a pacifier as it might not help calm your baby. Also, avoid the use of a pacifier if your baby has frequent ear infections.
Image Source: BabyGaga
It is a habit and will take time to break. It can take several weeks for kids to give up the pacifier completely. Here are a few tips for parents to wean off pacifiers in their child:
Want to share your mommy experience with other moms through words or images? Become a part of the Moms United community. Click here and we will get in touch with you