Baby Pacifiers – Should I Use Them?
Pacifier has sometimes been described as the parent’s best friend. That is hardly the fact because there are both pros and also cons involved with the use of a pacifier. Not all children like pacifiers and some like them way too much. In this article we cover the main benefits and risks involved and discuss when is the right time to start using them and when to give them up completely.
When to start using a pacifier
The exact time you should start introducing a pacifier to your baby is under a little bit of a debate. The old saying was that it should be introduced after the baby has learned to breastfeed properly, which usually is around the 2nd or 3rd week after birth. The argument is that the baby needs to be feeding well and the mother has her milk supply well established. Otherwise you risk the baby falling in 'love' with a pacifier instead of your sweet mother’s milk.
Still today a delayed introduction is what most experts recommend. At the 14-16 day mark you should start introducing the pacifier, if you want to use it that is. By that time most babies have learned how to breastfeed and that limits the issue of the so-called nipple confusion.
Nipple confusion is a term that is used to describe a baby developing a preference for a special type of nipple that conflicts with normal feeding. That is, the baby will prefer the pacifier rather then the breast.
The issue if introducing a pacifier too early and cause nipple confusion is a highly debated issue and researchers are split in two.
One thing is for sure, the baby needs to learn how to breastfeed properly and sucking a pacifier is easier then sucking a breast and hence your are soothing the sucking reflex with an empty pacifier rather then giving the baby the first milk or colostrum which is not a great idea.
This leads to the recommendation that giving a baby a pacifier after it has learned to breastfeed properly should be the general rule of thumb.
If your baby is bottle fed you do not need to worry about giving the baby a pacifier. Your baby can then start using a pacifier from day one. There is no huge difference in a bottle and a pacifier and there will be no nipple confusion since there is no real nipple involved.
Pros for the pacifier
Help in comforting
Babies can be very hard to comfort, if you are doing all the tricks and nothing works you might find the pacifier very helpful. This is usually related to babies having strong sucking needs. So if your baby has been feed, rocked, cradled and burped and is still fussy you might want to use the pacifier.
SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
It has been established that pacifiers can reduce the risk of SIDS. This is only connected to nap time and bedtime since that is the time that SIDS happen. There are scientific evidence that there is a difference in the frequency of SIDS in babies that use pacifiers and those who do not use them.
Sucking needs are different
Some babies have stronger sucking need then others and they simply want to be sucking all the time. Withholding a pacifier can be hard on the mother in these instances and the fact that sticking a pacifier in the baby's mouth can make the problem vanish immediately makes for a strong argument that you should use the pacifier.
Pacifiers are a great way to help babies fall asleep. Many babies calm down when they get a pacifier in their mouth. The baby being calm makes the whole nap and bedtime process go much smoother.
No thumb sucking
Pacifiers are disposable. After your baby has grown and should stop using a pacifier you can throw them away. If your baby has been using its thumb for comfort and soothing the issue can be a lot tougher to deal with and the habit can be very hard to break, since the thumb is always there in front of your baby.
Ease ear pain
If you travel a lot by plane with your baby the pacifier is a great help with easing ear discomfort. Since the baby cannot use the grown up technique of popping your ears the sucking motion helps prevent ear pain during the change in air pressure at take taking off and landing.
Cons for the pacifier
It increases the possibility of nipple confusion if introduced too early. So again you are better off waiting until the baby has learned how to breastfeed and your milk supply is well established. What time that is exactly is very different for each mother and child but generally happens between the 2nd and 4th week.
Hard habit to brake
Sucking on a pacifier can very easily become a habit that is very hard to break. There are many 3 year old babies walking around sucking vigorously that certainly don't need a pacifier. It’s a good guideline to take the pacifier away from the baby right after it’s first birthday or at the latest before the second.
No sleep without a pacifier
Many parents that have children that used pacifier know the feeling of getting up in the middle of the night when their baby is crying only to stick the pacifier back into the baby’s mouth and the baby falls asleep immediately. That is a sign that you baby is getting too depended on the pacifier. Waking up and sticking a pacifier into your baby’s mouth five times a night can get very tiresome quickly and unfortunately sleeping without one can prove a hard habit to brake for your baby.
If your baby uses a pacifier longer then the first few years it can lead to dental problems in the future. It’s not a thing that is very common but it can happen. The top front teeth can slant outward or even not come in properly because of prolonged use of the pacifier.
Deciding to use a pacifier is a decision that you should consider. Most babies use a pacifier and there is a good chance you also used it during your childhood. The pacifier can become your best friend, but keep the following in mind:
- Breastfeeding should be established before introducing the pacifier
- Make sure the baby will not get to dependent on the pacifier
- Stop using the pacifier no later then at the 2nd birthday. After the 1st birthday is even better.
It's important to keep in mind that not all babies need a pacifier and that there is no use in trying to force your baby to use it. When first introducing it try doing it after your baby has been fed, since it is not a substitute for food but much rather a very handy tool to keep your baby happy when you need it the most.
Copyright © 2016 by Julie Nou.
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