Pacifier and Soothers : A complete Guide

Pacifier and Soothers : A complete Guide

What is a Pacifier?

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.

Also Read: 5 Best Formula Powders if You can not Breastfeed your Child

At what age can you give the pacifier to the baby?

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.

How to give Pacifier to the baby?

Whenever you plan to give a pacifier to your baby, you need to take care of the following points:

  • Give a pacifier only after your baby has had a feed and his/her tummy is full.
  • The pacifier should not be given too close to mealtime.
  • A pacifier should not be used to calm a crying baby. Give the pacifier only after your baby has stopped crying.
  • When trying to introduce a pacifier to your baby, you should not put it in the baby’s mouth directly. Just make the pacifier touch the baby’s cheek; if your baby likes it, he/she will turn to the pacifier and starts sucking.

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?

Why some babies don’t like pacifiers?

  • Your baby might not like the taste of the pacifier. You may dip it in breastmilk or formula and then try introducing it.
  • Every baby might not like the same type of pacifier and every baby might not also like the pacifier. If your baby does not like the pacifier the first time, you can try again after a few days and even try different types of pacifiers. If your baby doesn’t like any type of pacifier, you’ll just have to respect your baby’s decision.

How often should you replace your baby’s pacifier?

A single pacifier cannot be used all the time. You’ll have to replace the pacifier in the following situations:

  • Pacifier nipple has holes and is torn
  • Nipple has stretched
  • Nipple is discolored
  • Nipple is sticky
  • Pieces of the pacifier have become loose
  • The plastic has sharp points protruding

Also Read: Essential Vaccination Chart for Babies

How to clean your baby’s pacifier?

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.

Pacifier and Soothers: A complete Guide

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Things to consider while choosing a pacifier for your baby

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:

#1. The size

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.

#2. The construction

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.

#3. The Material of the Nipple

Pacifier nipples are made up of different materials:

  • Silicone: This is the most commonly used material for a pacifier nipple. It is very easy to clean.
  • Latex: These nipples are much softer than silicon ones and are also more flexible. They may wear out faster as they are extremely soft. Note: In case your baby is allergic to latex, avoid using a latex pacifier.
  • Hard Plastic: Although it lasts a long time, this material is rarely used for manufacturing pacifiers as the taste isn’t very good and parts of it can become sharp and cause harm to your baby’s delicate mouth.

#4. Color

Choose a bright colored pacifier as against a clear one as it is easier to spot and there are less chances of misplacing it.

#5. Guard of a pacifier

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.

Related: How to manage bottle feeding when traveling?

Advantages of giving a pacifier to a baby

#1. Is better than Thumb-sucking

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.

#2. Reduced risk of SIDS

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).

#3. Helps in relieving pain

Sucking on a pacifier after getting a vaccination can help to relieve pain.

#4. Helps premature babies suck

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.

#5. Added comfort

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).

#6. Temporary distraction

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.

#7. Reduced discomfort during flights

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.

Pacifier and Soothers: A complete Guide

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Also Read: Breastfeeding Guide for the first month of baby

Disadvantages of using pacifiers

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:

#1. Problems with breastfeeding

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.

#2. Can cause dental problems

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.

#3. Can cause middle ear infections

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.

#4. Speech and language problems

Pacifiers can cause problems with the speech and language development of the baby. They may not be able to articulate sounds properly.

#5. Sleep issues

If lost while sleeping, the absence of the pacifier may cause the baby to wake up and cry.

#6. Hampers learning

The pacifier may prevent the baby from using his/her mouth to learn and explore toys and other objects.

#7. Stops baby from communicating

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.

#8. Can lead to various infections

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)

How to Regulate Your Baby’s Pacifier Use

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.

#1. Offer the pacifier in between two feedings

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.

#2. Let your baby guide your decision

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.

#3. Use during a nap time and bedtime

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.

#4. Keep the pacifier clean

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.

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#5. Don’t tie a pacifier

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.

#6. Don’t give a pacifier to an underweight baby

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.

Click here to buy BPA Free Pacifier

Pacifier and Soothers: A complete GuideImage Source: BabyGaga

Precautions while using a pacifier for your child

  • Pacifiers should not be sweetened ever since it can lead to tooth decay in babies below age three. Sweeteners like honey can cause choking hazards in baby below one year of age.
  • Pacifiers should not be used to replace a feed and children should not be given a pacifier when they are hungry.
  • Don’t share a pacifier between children.

Simple tips to wean a child off the pacifier

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:

  • Reassure your child with affection.
  • Limit the use of the pacifier during bedtime or stressful situations.
  • Find a comforting alternative for your child.
  • Do engaging activities with your child.
  • Praise your child when he/she does not use a pacifier.
  • Do not carry the pacifier to the daycare or other activities.
  • Use a calendar to mark down pacifier-free days and reward your child.
  • Dip the pacifier in a bitter solution (as recommended by the paediatrician) to make it less appealing.
  • Offer to trade in the pacifier for a “big kid’s” toy.

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