One hardly needs an introduction to a pacifier. Everyone has seen one, most of us have used some as a child and we are likely to use a few for our kids. There is a lot of misinformation about pacifiers that make some parents quite anxious about using them. Again, there are some hypes about pacifiers as well that convince some parents to use them at all times. It must be mentioned that using a pacifier is not only desirable but often necessary but going overboard with it, or with anything, is not good.
The reality is simple. Using a pacifier is good but overusing it is bad. It’s like breastfeeding and the duration. A baby should be breastfed only as an infant but once the baby is six to eight months old, breast milk should not be the only food.
List of Pros of Pacifier
1. The most obvious advantage of using a pacifier is that the baby stops crying or squalling. Parents usually feel compelled to use pacifiers because of those cries and squalling. Quite miraculously, a pacifier tends to calm the baby and stops the crying and squalling. Not always can parents attend to the cries and carry their babies along without doing anything else. Pacifier allows parents to keep their babies calm and also busy without being totally attentive or exclusively focused.
2. There is a significant advantage of pacifiers that has been backed by clinical data. Pacifiers reduce the risk of SIDS, sudden infant death syndrome. When babies have a habit of sucking on pacifiers, they don’t have the tendency to sleep deeply. They have a tendency to wake up when they lose the pacifier or after a while when they wake up partially and realize that they don’t have the binky to suck on. This makes babies less vulnerable to sudden infant death syndrome. You may or may not know this, the American Academy of Pediatrics actually suggest that pacifiers be used. Sucking a pacifier allows the baby’s mouth to be opened and the nasal tracts to circulate more oxygen. The sufficient supply of oxygen also reduces the risks of sudden infant death syndrome.
According to the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics, pacifiers should be used for babies aged less than a year at bedtime or at the time of short naps. However, it is also recommended that pacifiers shouldn’t be used after the baby has fallen asleep. Parents should not place pacifiers in the mouth of babies who are already asleep. Also, pacifiers should not be used for babies aged less than a month. There are reports that might lead you to believe that pacifiers cause nipple confusion. That is not true.
3. Using a pacifier makes life simple for parents and for the babies. The little ones get something to do without creating troubles and parents get to have some time which they can use to do important tasks that they wouldn’t be able to do with their babies in the arms. In that sense, pacifiers serve an important purpose.
List of Cons of Pacifier
1. A pacifier should not be used for babies who are one month old or younger. It shouldn’t be used for babies who are six months old or older. The only time pacifiers should be used is between the second month and the sixth month. This creates a problem because if a baby gets used to a pacifier during those three to five months period, then the baby might want to continue sucking on the pacifier. Not giving a pacifier at that time, even if the baby is eight months old can make the baby squall, even louder. It is very easy to have a child get used to the comfort of a pacifier and if the binky is not used in moderation, then the child may want to use it all the time. There are cases where kids don’t even begin sucking on their thumbs and want the pacifier instead.
2. A pacifier may cut short the period of breastfeeding. Babies get a great deal of satisfaction when they suck on the pacifiers. This might lead them to be averse to the more effort that is needed while sucking at the time of breastfeeding. It might so happen that a baby may not spend enough time or effort during breastfeeding and might instead want the pacifier. The pacifier doesn’t feed the baby and that would certainly have undesirable consequences. This can be countered by using a pacifier in moderation and not all the time.
3. If a baby develops some degree of disinterest in sucking at the time of breastfeeding, then it can have an adverse impact on the amount of milk the mother can produce. The quantum of breast milk is directly proportional to how much time a baby spends feeding on it and sucking on the nipples. The less time a baby spends or the less a baby sucks, higher would be the chances of reduced breast milk secretion.
4. A pacifier might create sleep problems for the baby. Those that get accustomed to sleeping only when they have a pacifier to suck on might wake up the moment the pacifier falls off from their mouth. When babies sleep, a pacifier clings on for some time but then it falls off as the jaws ease. In such cases, parents would be compelled to wake up if the baby starts crying in the middle of the night. This can become a recurring problem, almost every night. Also, it is quite likely that the baby would develop a habit of sleeping only when there is a pacifier. Else, the baby wouldn’t sleep or would take a long time to go off to sleep.
5. A pacifier often leads parents to overlook pressing concerns. If parents have a habit of just placing a pacifier in the baby’s mouth whenever there are some cries or squalls, then it is a bad practice. Babies cry for various reasons, from stomach aches to hunger, wet nappies to some form of pain or irritation. Placing a pacifier would not address the problem that is the primary cause of the cries or squalls.
6. Pacifiers can cause infections later on when babies grow up and keep reusing the pacifiers after they fall off. Pacifiers can also cause teeth misalignment if the use is not stopped in time.
Use A Pacifier, But Wisely
Don’t use a pacifier for a baby before he or she is one month old. A pacifier should never be used at the time of breastfeeding or replacing feeding. A mother should make time to breastfeed whenever a baby is hungry. Placing a pacifier may stop the baby’s crying but would not attend to the hunger. Pacifiers coated with honey, sugar or anything should be avoided. Simple pacifiers should be used. Only good quality pacifiers from credible brands must be used, not one that’s just been picked up from somewhere and it should also be of the right size for the baby’s mouth. The specific type of pacifier can be determined only after testing a few, so the baby can express which one he or she likes the most.