Most parents out there label pacifiers as ‘mommy magic’ – and for good reason. Not only do they quickly and easily soothe babies, they go a long way in turning on the comfort and turning off the tears.
A majority of babies out there have extremely strong sucking reflexes. Heck, believe it or not, but most babies actually start sucking their fingers or thumbs in the womb. Although it doesn’t offer any nutritional value, sucking basically has a calming and soothing effect on babies. For this reason many parents these days believe pacifiers are a ‘must-have’ and rank them right along baby swings and diaper wipes.
No matter how amazing pacifiers are, you should learn about their pros and cons before starting to use them. Here’s a brief look at them:
10 It Can Help Soothe Your Baby
The amount of time that your baby spends crying is going to increase from birth until about 6 weeks, during this time you can expect your precious bundle of joy to cry for about three hours a day. Just so you know, that can trigger a lot of crying stress. As obvious, sucking can help your baby calm down and stop crying, which is why pacifiers have gained such an immense amount of fame.
Some babies are extremely fussy, but when given a pacifier to suck on, they turn into the happiest babies on Earth. The fact of the matter is that sucking a pacifier makes babies feel good as it releases chemicals from the brain that are meant to help decrease stress. Yes. your baby can suck her own thumb too, but this might become a habit in the long-term – a habit that will not be easy to break.
9 It Can Help Save Your Baby’s Life
Research suggests that the utilization of a pacifier can assist in decreasing the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS. The thing with pacifiers is that babies do not fall asleep deeply while sucking on them during the night and wake up easily too. It is for this reason that it makes them less susceptible to SIDS.
Experts have also gone on to suggest that pacifiers help open up air space around a baby’s nose and mouth, which assists in making sure that they receive adequate amounts of oxygen. This is the reason why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the utilization of pacifiers for babies under the age of 1 while napping and at bedtime.
8 Pacifiers Offer Multiple Health Benefits
Although the health benefits offered by pacifiers are particularly focused on preterm babies, there’s no denying the fact that they exist. According to a research study conducted back in 1992, preemies that suck on pacifiers tend to gain weight much faster than those who don’t.
Other research has also suggested that premature babies who use pacifiers soon after birth show earlier sucking patterns and face much fewer health complications with time. As experts claim, sucking basically encourages muscle development and oral muscle function, which shows how beneficial it can be to an infant’s well-being.
Another study has suggested that sucking is associated with shorter stays in the hospital, improved bottle feeding and an earlier transition to bottle feeding in premature babies.
7 A Sure-fire Temporary Distraction
Children can get extremely fussy during and after blood tests, shots and other such procedures. With the help of a pacifier, you can help your baby calm down and stay relaxed during these procedures. So, if you truly want to keep your child happy and relaxed during shot and blood tests etc., it is best for you to give her a pacifier to suck both during and immediately after them.
6 Satisfies Your Baby's Need for Non-nutritive Sucking
The fact of the matter is that sucking is a completely normal infant reflex. All babies are born with the need to suck. However, the amount of sucking typically tends to vary between babies. For many babies the urge to suck seems to be more than what\'s needed for nourishment.
Many babies want to suck when they are tired, bored or in need of comfort. In case your precious bundle of joy wises to suck beyond the amount of sucking that nursing offers, a pacifier may satisfy that need.
5 The Cons – Your Baby May Suffer From Ear Infections
Yes, the utilization of pacifiers comes with its downsides too. It's believed that pacifiers can lead to the development of Otitis Media or middle ear infection. A study performed in Finland showed that children who continuously sucked on a pacifier had far more ear infections as compared to children who did not.
Apart from that, the said study also associated prolonged or frequent use of pacifiers to a higher incidence of middle ear infections as opposed to restricted use. At the end of the study, experts suggested that parents should restrict the utilization of pacifiers to the moments of falling asleep between the ages of 6 and 10 months to reduce the risk of middle ear infections.
4 It May Become a Sleep Association
What does that mean? It means that your baby may associate sucking on her pacifier with falling asleep – without it, she may find it just about impossible to go to sleep. What’s worse is that she will keep waking up from the deep part of her sleep when the pacifier falls out of her mouth.
Although waking between sleep cycles is fairly natural, your little one is going to want the pacifier returned to her mouth to be able to go back to sleep – and trust me, things are definitely going to become nerve-wrecking for you in such a situation.
While some babies have no trouble whatsoever weaning off of the pacifier, for most babies, they might wake up screaming as hard as possible for their pacifier every 1-2 hours all through the night till they are at least 3 years old. In all that time, their parents are going to have to wake up at least 4,380 times to give the pacifier back to their screaming infant.
3 Your Child May Wean Too Early From Breastfeeding
Offering a pacifier to a full-term baby may lead to her avoiding what she truly needs – her food, your milk. That’s right, research has suggested that the utilization of pacifiers can lead to excessively early cessation of breastfeeding.
Although the link between breastfeeding cessation and pacifier usage is not fully established, experts suggest that it is best for parents to wait a while before giving their kids a pacifier. If anything, a pacifier should be offered between the four to six weeks periods, when the mother’s milk supply has fully established itself.
This is because sucking on a breast is fairly different from sucking on a pacifier and your child may be sensitive to these differences. Early utilization of artificial nipples has hence between associated with decreased exclusive breastfeeding as well as the duration of breastfeeding.
2 You May Use It to Delay Your Baby’s Feedings
At times parents end up using the pacifier as a means of delaying their baby’s feedings. Some even resort to using it as a substitute for their attention. However, sometimes your baby does have to wait to be fed or comforted (in the checkout line at the grocery store, for example, or in her car seat five blocks from home).
In these instances, a pacifier can be a godsend. In any other case, its use is just outright wrong.
1 You Might Get Into a Pacifier Habit Too
Yes, even parents can catch the bad habit of giving a pacifier to their little one each time she becomes uncomfortable or cranky. If you give her the pacifier as soon as she starts crying, there’s a good chance that you will end up overlooking the real reasons for your baby’s tears, such as an uncomfortable diaper or a tummy ache that may be agitating her.
The worst part is that this habit will lead you to having a baby who will not be able to comfort herself in any other way except for having a pacifier in her mouth.