It’s been said that babies are not born with pacifiers in their mouths. True, but they often end up with one so soon it seems like they were born with it! If you are trying to decide whether or not to use a pacifier with your baby, here are some pros and cons to consider.
Pacifiers are convenient. They allow parents to quieten a fussy baby while in public without too much bother. Pacifiers are small and portable and easy to carry along.
It can buy parents some time – the pacifier does what its name implies: it pacifies. This gives parents a chance to find a place to nurse or get a bottle ready (or prepare whatever is needed).
Some studies suggest that SIDS, or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, is reduced with the use of a pacifier at night-time.
Pacifiers have a reputation for preventing finger- and thumb-sucking. (This may or may not be the case – the habit of sucking on fingers and thumbs may have its roots in more complex causes.)
Dependency can be a significant problem for some babies, and giving up the pacifier may end up being a major headache.
A pacifiers can be a big source of germs if it falls out and parents put it back in the baby’s mouth. (It’s only too easy to get into this habit.)
If you lose the pacifier or it wears out, beware: a substitute may not do, making for a very discontented baby!
Proper tooth and jaw development may be adversely affected by the use of pacifiers. Speech delays may also be a problem with pacifier use, especially prolonged use.
Tips for Using a Pacifier
Here are some tips to help you out if you decide to use a pacifier.
Sterilize the pacifier in the dishwasher (make sure you buy ones that are dishwasher-safe).
Don’t put the pacifier back in the baby’s mouth if it falls out and hits any surface (especially the floor).
When you find a style that works, buy several, and toggle them so your baby gets used to changing nipples. This helps prevent the fussiness that may ensue if you lose the pacifier or if it wears out.
Tips for Not Using a Pacifier
If you are not going to use a pacifier with your baby, here are some tips.
Use your breasts as a pacifier if you are breastfeeding. This ups your milk supply and increases your bond with your baby. (Pacifiers are, after all, a substitute nipple!)
A parent’s clean pinky finger can suffice as a temporary pacifier.