Passy, binkey, dummie, soother--whatever you call it, you may consider using a pacifier to lull their colicky cries and help them drift off to sleep. While pacifier usage is linked to some benefits, such as teaching your baby to self-soothe, you may want to consider the negative effects before giving your baby a binkey when they cry.
Although it may seem like a harmless habit, pacifiers can cause a litany of health concerns in children, from malformed soft palates to tooth troubles later on. They can be a beneficial alternative to thumb sucking, but between the two, the ideal may be to introduce neither to your child if possible. Pacifiers offer temporary comfort to infants, but the long-term troubles may make you hesitate before you offer it to your baby.
This article will explore the little-known, harmful effects of pacifiers, including problems that can develop later on the road. It should be noted that some benefits come from pacifier usage, and they have been linked to decreased incidents of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Whether the pros outweigh the cons is your decision: make an informed decision and decide based on what is best for your child's development.
15 Creates Unhealthy Attachment
A baby and their pacifier is cute for the first year, but once your child is a toddler, the binkie may move from helpful soother to unhealthy obsession. As your child grows older and still holds an attachment to their pacifier, you may worry that they'll never outgrow it.
Babies find comfort in pacifiers, but once they grow older, they may not know how to seek more age-appropriate methods of comfort. They may find giving up their pacifier frightening and cling to it as they transition from infant to child. Those who give their child pacifiers may need to offer alternatives to their child like lots of physical affection and compliments when the child is showing "big kid" behavior.
If you dislike the thought of weaning your toddler off pacifiers, you may want to prevent an over-attachment from happening in the first place. Instead of offering a pacifier whenever your baby cries, try limiting their usage or even avoiding them altogether.
14 Inhibit Healthy Weight Gain In Infants
In some cases, using a pacifier can inhibit a child from gaining weight at a healthy rate for their age. Pacifiers are often used at night to calm crying infants, but nighttime is when a baby consumes about 1/3 of their daily caloric intake through bottle or breastfeeding. Using a pacifier instead of feeding the baby may result in weight loss and nutrition deficiency, leaving your child at-risk for stunted growth.
To reduce the risk, try to use a pacifier minimally at night and make certain that your baby's tears are really cries of sadness rather than hunger cries. If your baby is consistently underweight and you worry that they are not getting enough nutrients, try feeding them more frequently and lessening pacifier usage.
13 Increase The Risk Of Middle Ear Infections
Does your baby seem to constantly get ear infections, and you can't seem to pinpoint a reason? The source of their pain may be their pacifier. Pacifiers interrupt development of the middle ear and can result in increased ear pressure and infections.
Infections are uncommon in infancy but usually develop in the 6-12 month range from pacifier usage. This is after the pacifier has interfered with development and left the ear more unacceptable to damage or infection. If you find at this age or just before your child is developing an unusual amount of earaches, you may want to nip the habit in the bud before it worsens.
12 Extended Usage Can Misshape The Soft Palate
Although not linked to most palate disorders, pacifier usage can change or even misshape the soft palate in your child's mouth. If your child needs soft palate repair, a pacifier may also irritate or slow the healing process, leading to discomfort and risk of infection after the surgery. Pacifiers are unhealthy for soft palate development and can negatively change a child's mouth.
If your child has a pre-existing soft palate disorder or uses it overly-frequently, you may consider limiting or weaning your child off of the pacifier early to lower chances of damage. Instead, provide your child with alternative sources of comfort or give a pacifier at increasingly less intervals until they are no longer interested in it.
11 If It Breaks, It May Become A Choking Hazard
Some pacifiers, particularly those worn as a necklace or with large decorations on the front, can be a choking hazard for your baby. When looking at a list of recall items, pacifiers are frequently the culprit of injury reports because they fell apart, wrappe around the baby's neck, or contained harmful toxins.
When buying a pacifier for your baby, make sure you research the brand and type so that you don't give your baby a dangerous brand. Once you have bought it, keep up-to-date on recalls and, if you see your child's brand on the list, remove it from the home immediately. A pacifier can be soothing but defective brands can seriously injure infants if broken or misused.
10 Sometimes Linked To Speech Impediments
Is there a link between pacifiers and speech development? Some speech pathologists have connected pacifier usage with certain speech disorders. Studies found that children who suck their fingers or use a pacifier were three times as likely to develop a speech disorder. Pacifiers inhibit the development of lip and tongue muscles due to its unnatural position in the mouth, and children who are learning to speak may develop a lisp or find speech difficult.
If your child is learning to talk and still uses a pacifier, you may find it the right time to wean them off once and for all. Children who used pacifiers earlier in life and develop speech disorders later on can still find help through a speech therapist, but you may find it in your child's benefit to tackle the root cause rather than treat it later on.
9 Interfere With Healthy Breastfeeding
Although results differ between studies, pacifier usage may put your child at risk for "nipple confusion," making breastfeeding difficult for your child. Nipple confusion can be caused by a variety of stimulants, and the exact reason some babies develop this confusion and others don't is unknown. Research on nipple confusion is mixed, however, and pacifiers may have different effects on breastfeeding depending on the child.
Pacifiers may or may not have an adverse effect on breastfeeding, but if your child has trouble breastfeeding and frequently uses a pacifier, you may try eliminating it for a time to see if it helps your child grasp breastfeeding. If another cause is to blame, you may see a pediatrician to determine other reasons but pacifiers may be a good starting point.
8 The Child's Teeth May Slant Later On
Babies who suck on pacifiers can be at risk for dental problems later on; this is one of the predominant concerns of long-term pacifier usage. Because pacifiers can cause mouths to develop abnormally, your baby's teeth may come in misaligned or slanted due to what dentists affectionately label "pacifier teeth."
As babies and toddlers develop, their mouth can be shaped around their pacifier and adversely affect new teeth in the same way thumb sucking does. Your baby's front teeth may come in slanted or crooked, and their jaw alignment may be shifted as they continue to use pacifiers. Once your child's teeth start coming in, it is recommended that they no longer use pacifiers to prevent dental problems later in childhood.
7 May Trigger A Latex Allergy In Young Children
Some children may exhibit signs of latex allergies you didn't previously know they had. This can cause any symptoms from mild discomfort to more severe reactions depending on the strength of the allergy. If your child exhibits a rash, redness, or blistering near the mouth and they express significant irritation, your child's pacifier may be triggering an allergic reaction.
Children with latex allergies may need to switch to silicone pacifiers, which are less likely to trigger an allergic reaction. Know the signs of latex allergy to protect your baby from potential allergic reactions later on.
6 Child May Wean From Breastfeeding Too Soon
Sucking is a source of comfort for babies; it can provide nourishment or emotional solace depending on if they are sucking on a bottle, pacifier, or if they are breastfeeding. Some babies use pacifiers and breastfeed easily with no adverse effects. Others may develop sucking problems from the pacifier, making breastfeeding difficult. In some situations, they may wean off breastfeeding altogether much earlier than planned.
While bottle feeding can provide nutrition as well as breastfeeding, you may not want to wean your child so soon. If your child already exhibits trouble sucking while breastfeeding, you may not want to introduce a pacifier and potentially worsen issues.
5 Increase A Mother's Odds Of Resuming Ovulation
One of the best natural birth controls is nursing your baby. While breastfeeding, in most cases mothers stop ovulating and their period is not likely to return until they wean their child. When pacifier usage causes early weaning, you may ovulate earlier than expected. Without proper birth control or contraceptives, you may find yourself pregnant earlier than expected.
If pregnancy is your only concern when it comes to pacifiers, you may simply resume birth control methods in case you wean your child earlier than intended. If this is a concern, however, and you wish to continue nursing your child, pacifiers may not fit best for your lifestyle.
4 More Prone To Developing Oral Yeast Or Thrush
Oral thrush is an overgrowth of yeast commonly seen in babies which manifests by white patches in the mouth. Babies can obtain yeast from their mother's birth canal or through bottle feeding, but they can also contract it from their pacifier if it is not properly washed. Thrush is not dangerous in most cases, but it can transfer to the mother's nipple through breastfeeding and cause a yeast infection.
In mild cases, thrush may go away on its own. Wash your baby's pacifier and bottle nipples to prevent them from contracting oral thrush. If they exhibit symptoms that don't seem to go away, you may throw away contaminated pacifiers and limit usage to inhibit yeast growth.
3 May Worsen Already-Present Milk-Supply Problems
If you have trouble with milk supply, you may not want to use pacifiers when placating your baby. The causes are unknown, but in some cases, pacifier usage is linked to dwindling milk supply as it is for early weaning and ovulation returning in nursing mothers.
Sometimes it's best to play it safe and limit pacifiers if you're already having trouble with milk supply, even if the exact causes are unknown. That way, if the problem continues to worsen, you can narrow down probable causes and be more likely to solve the problem before you're unable to stop it.
2 Pacifiers Easily Becomes A Bad Habit
Babies cling to what gives them comfort: their mother, situations and places where they feel safe, and objects that give them consolation like bottles and pacifiers. While it's important to teach children self-soothing skills, you may want to find healthier ways that can carry on into childhood. Giving your baby a pacifier at every opportunity may turn a comfort object into a bad habit. The longer it stays, the harder it is for the baby to let go of it later on.
You may consider reinforcing your child when they need comfort with encouraging words or embraces so that they know to turn to you when upset rather than their pacifier. That being said, as every mother who's been woken up by sobs at two in the morning knows, that is not always a viable option. If it helps your child soothe themselves and you don't have another option, it's okay to use a pacifier now and again. Just make sure to watch that habit so it doesn't become unhealthy.
1 Pacifier Usage Is Linked With Cavities Later On
When raising a child, it's always important to look at habits in the long-term. Pacifiers may not seem like much, but they can cause serious dental problems as your child grows older. A pacifier carries bacteria that can cause cavities later on, especially if the pacifier is not often washed.
Additionally, dipping a pacifier in sweet substances like juice or chocolate can weaken your child's teeth and cause decay as they come in. Giving your child a treat now and then is okay, but if the baby's pacifier is always coated in sugary snacks, it may put them at risk for a lifetime of dental trouble.
So, the final question arises: to give your baby a pacifier, or to seek alternative methods of self-soothing? There is no one right answer, but taking precautions when using a pacifier and keeping informed about some risks can help you keep your child's emotional and physical health strong. Put in research about the pros and cons of pacifiers and decide for yourself what is right for your child.