Should You Give Your Baby A Pacifier?
Babies look awfully cute with “plugs” or “binkys” in their mouths. But there is some question whether pacifiers are causing more harm than good.
Sucking comes naturally for babies. Some babies suck their thumb or fingers. Others like to suck on a pacifier. Pacifiers often are a form of security or comfort. And a great help to mom and dad. The pros and cons of pacifier use are nearly even. The only question left to ask is, “When should my baby stop?”
What Are The Advantages Of Pacifiers?
As a new parent, comforting your baby is one of your highest priorities, and you may find a pacifier very helpful.
- Some babies can be soothed with rocking and cuddling and are content to suck only during feedings. Others just can't seem to suckle enough, even when they're not hungry. If your baby still wants to suck after having her fill of formula or breast milk, a pacifier may be just the thing.
- A pacifier isn't a substitute for nurturing or feeding, of course. But if your baby is still fussy after you've fed and played with her, you might want to see if a pacifier will satisfy her.
- 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.
Also, a pacifier habit is easier to break than a thumb-sucking habit. After all, you can dispose of a binky!
What Are The Disadvantages Of Pacifiers?
- Pacifier use may increase the risk of middle ear infections in babies and young children.
- If you're breastfeeding your baby, you may still want to wait until he's proficient before offering a pacifier. Sucking on a pacifier and sucking on a breast are different actions. Experts suggest that you wait until your baby is breastfeeding well and your milk supply is established. His 1-month birthday should be about right, though that's just a guideline.
- Sucking on a pacifier can easily become a habit. So many parents don't introduce one because they don't want to deal with having to take it away later.
- If you allow your child to use a pacifier but want to avoid binky battles, take it away when he reaches his first birthday.
Smart Ways To Manage Your Baby's Pacifier Use
If you decide to introduce a pacifier, keep these guidelines in mind:
Let your baby guide your decision.
If she takes to it right away, fine. But if she resists, don't force it. You can try again another time or just respect her preference and let it go.
Offer the pacifier between feedings
You should give him the binky only when you know he's not hungry. The idea is to teach baby to self soothe, not starve.
Avoid using a pacifier to delay your baby's feedings
...Or as a substitute for your attention. That said, sometimes your baby does have to wait to be fed or comforted ( in her car seat five blocks from home for instance). In this instance, a pacifier can be a godsend.
Try giving your baby the binky only at nap time and bedtime
But if it falls out of her mouth while she's sleeping, don't put it back in. When your baby's fussy, first try to comfort her in other ways, such as cuddling, rocking, or singing. Only offer the binky as a last resort.
Don't tie a pacifier around your baby's neck or to his crib.
He could strangle in the cord or ribbon. It's safe to attach the pacifier to his clothes with a clip made especially for the job.
Take care of the pacifier.
Choose a pacifier that's safe and appropriate for your baby, and keep it clean by rinsing it with warm water. Replace it as soon as it shows small cracks or other signs of wear.
Don't "clean" a pacifier by putting it in your mouth.
Dental experts say adult saliva contains bacteria that can cause cavities in your baby's teeth as soon as they begin to erupt from her gums. And it's not a good idea to dip your child's pacifier in juice or sugar water because this can also lead to cavities.
When not to give a pacifier to a baby
Don't give a pacifier to a baby who is having problems gaining weight. So if your baby is having difficulty nursing, it's probably best to do without a pacifier. You'll also want to consider having your baby go without a pacifier if he's had repeated ear infections.
But if you have a premature infant who's not gaining enough weight, a binky probably won't have much of an effect one way or another. And using a pacifier may actually protect preemies from SIDS, so talk it over with his doctor before ruling it out.