Babies are born with the instinct to suck; sometimes, they may get overly fussy or seemingly inconsolable due to that urge or something else. In that case, a baby pacifier has magical powers in soothing and drifting them off to sleep. But is a pacifier suitable for babies in reality? Or are pacifiers bad for your little munchkin? Let’s find out below!
Babies And Pacifier: Are Pacifiers Bad or Good?
Dozens of names and two simple jobs! Whether you call it a paci, binkie, soother, dummy, nuk, or bo-bo, pacifiers are to be used at naptime and bedtime throughout the first year by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The AAP suggests that it helps lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Moreover, most parents consider pacifiers a heaven-sent accessory for their ability to calm and lull babies to sleep. However, many child specialists across the globe debate and demoralize their use because pacifiers can enhance various contaminations, for example, gastroenteritis, if not used appropriately.
So, is a pacifier suitable for babies, or should you skip it? Read on to learn all about pacifiers and their safety, as well as detailed information on how to introduce them to your baby.
Do Babies Really Need Pacifiers?
It’s not that babies can’t do without pacifiers, but using them can really help. When parents introduce them to their kids, most babies love them, while a few seem to show no interest. So let’s understand the primary mechanism behind how pacifiers work and why most babies enjoy sucking on them.
Most babies who are born with a natural sucking reflex want to suck beyond nursing or bottle-feeding. This habit is known as non-nutritive sucking, which can also be a soothing mechanism for them. Some babies even suck their thumbs while in the womb. So, a pacifier generally helps babies suck for pleasure, comfort, and security.
Is A Pacifier Good For Babies?
Generally, a paci is suitable for babies as it provides them with something safe to suck on. Here are some of the significant benefits of using a pacifier for babies:
- Sucking on it while sleeping helps to lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in newborns.
- Moreover, whether it’s naptime or bedtime, pacifiers help babies sleep.
- They also work as a quick distraction for fussy babies, especially in situations such as when they are getting a shot, traveling, have achy gums, or are in new surroundings.
- They help prevent overfeeding in bottle-fed babies and allow for sucking without gaining nutrition or calories.
- Refrigerated pacifiers help relieve discomfort and pain due to teething.
However, don’t be too tempted to put a pacifier in your baby’s mouth as soon as they seem mildly upset or cries. After all, all fussiness cannot be dealt with by letting your baby suck on to something. It could also indicate symptoms of a medical problem that needs to be examined by a doctor.
Can Newborns Use Pacifiers?
Yes. Newborns can use a pacifier, but the whole thing depends on whether or not your baby is breastfed. This is because the sucking action of nursing is different from a pacifier. Generally, if your baby isn’t breastfed, you can introduce a newborn pacifier to them whenever you want.
However, if they nurse, it’s better to introduce it until breastfeeding is established. This usually takes about 3 to 4 weeks.
How To Introduce Pacifiers To Your Baby?
Here’s how you can introduce a newborn pacifier to your baby:
- Gently touch your baby’s lower lip with the teat of a clean and sanitized pacifier.
- This will trigger their sucking reflex and cause them to open their mouth toward the stimuli.
- If they’re keen to suckle on it, place the pacifier on the front part of their tongue, and they’ll soon start to suck on it.
- Usually, the first introduction is successful for most kids, but if it isn’t, don’t force it on them.
- Be patient and try it after some time if your tiny little human needs more time to explore and discover sucking on the pacifier.
Pros & Cons Of Using A Pacifier For Your Baby
If you’re still wondering, “is a pacifier good for babies?” here are some of the main advantages and disadvantages of using them for babies:
|Pacifiers can significantly help soothe a fussy baby if they love sucking on something.
|If your baby becomes habitual of using a pacifier, it might be difficult for them to sleep independently at night if it falls out of their mouth.
|It works as a temporary distraction to calm down crying babies during and after vaccinations or other procedures.
|The risk of middle ear infections is much higher in babies who use a pacifier than ones who don’t.
|They may also help your baby fall asleep.
|The longer the habit continues, the more it might lead to dental problems such as misaligned teeth.
|Babies may get ear pain caused by air pressure changes during flights. Hence, sucking on a pacifier might relieve the discomfort or pain at that time.
|If you introduce a pacifier before establishing a good breastfeeding routine, it may lead to poor latching and nursing refusal in some kids.
|Sucking on a pacifier might also help reduce the risk of SIDS in the first year.
|It is difficult to break a baby’s habit of thumb and finger sucking as compared to weaning them from a pacifier. Pacifiers are disposable and you can easily throw them away when you want to stop its use.
Pacifier Safety Tips
Here are some pacifier safety tips to ensure its proper use and reap its benefits:
- Always keep pacifiers clean and sterilize them in boiling water from time to time.
- Use only one-piece pacifiers, as ones that come with decorative components may fall apart and become a choking hazard for your little one.
- Use the correct size of a pacifier for your little one’s weight and age.
- Always use the pacifier as-it-as, and do not dip it in honey or any other sweetener.
- Don’t tie it to your baby’s body or crib with a cord.
- Never substitute a bottle nipple for a pacifier. Have multiple backup pacifiers instead.
- Discard or replace the pacifier if it is worn, sticky, or cracked.
- Don’t share it between siblings, and never use them past their expiration date.
When to Wean Your Baby Off a Pacifier?
According to the guidelines established by the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Academy of Pediatrics, it is better to stop using a pacifier at the end of the first year to reduce the risk of middle ear infections.
However, if your baby wants to continue the use, you must try to stop its use between ages two and four. Make sure not to use the pacifier beyond four years of age, as prolonged use can affect the shape of your child’s mouth or teeth alignment.
Most specialists agree that the sooner the sucking habit is broken, the less likely it is to cause issues with the tongue, the roof of the mouth, or overall occlusion.
Effective Pacifier Weaning Tips to Consider
- Don’t pressurize your child to stop using the pacifier.
- Offer them rewards like star charts or use praise instead.
- Try to indulge your child in engaging activities to relieve boredom and distract their use of a pacifier.
- Consult your pediatrician or pediatric dentist for effective tips if your baby seems too keen on sucking their pacifier for longer.
Is Pacifier Good For Babies: The Bottom Line
When it comes to pacifiers, there is actually no “right or wrong” approach. For many babies, it offers comfort and relaxation, while others never even take it. So, the decision to use it or not is all yours and your baby’s preference. However, it is important to consider the safety tips and know when and how to break the habit.
Just make sure you never use the pacifier as a replacement for food when your little one is hungry. And most importantly, don’t force your baby to suck on a pacifier if they don’t want it. Well, don’t worry about weaning too much, as most children stop using pacifiers on their own between the ages of 2 and 4.
Babies And Pacifier: Frequently Asked Questions About Can Newborns Use Pacifiers
If you still have some doubts about “is a pacifier good for babies?” here are our answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the same:
What are the side effects of pacifiers?
Here are some of the most common side effects of using a pacifier in kids:
- Some babies become dependent on the pacifier to sleep.
- Using a paci might increase the risk of middle ear infections in kids under age 1.
- Extended use of pacifiers might lead to orthodontic problems.
- If the nursing routine is not well-established, pacifier use might disrupt it further.
How long should babies use pacifiers?
Ideally, babies should not use a pacifier more than four years of age, and you should try to wean them off it between ages 2 and 4.
Can pacifiers prevent overfeeding?
Yes. Sometimes, babies have the urge to suck for comfort and end up overfeeding during formula feeds. So, pacifiers definitely help lower the risk of overfeeding in babies.
Can I leave the baby with a pacifier all night?
Yes. It is actually good to let your baby sleep with a pacifier to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). However, it is important to make sure you use a one-piece pacifier and not one that comes with decorative components.