What’s all the fuss about?The use of pacifiers is controversial, and we have a lot of parents asking about the pros and cons. Of course no one wants their 5 year old to be walking into Kindergarten with a pacifier, but is it ok to use them during babyhood? Absolutely, yes! It's up to you, but we believe there are more checks in the plus column.
First of all, babies have a natural need to suck, called non-nutritive sucking….it’s a reflex, and they’re all born with it. Isn’t it amazing how babies just know how to latch on to the nipple without being taught? It’s the same with a pacifier, even though many parents report their baby not liking or taking to the paci. If that’s the case, no worries! You can skip it, and it’s one less thing to worry about packing in the diaper bag. But a lot of babies love their pacis~ read on to discover some of the pros and cons when you’re considering whether to put a few in your shopping cart.
- Calms and soothes baby
Allowing a baby to suck on a paci in between feedings and at bedtime is perfectly ok, and helps to comfort them.
- Satisfies the sucking reflex
It’s a reflex....to check it out, touch the roof of your newborn’s mouth. He will automatically begin sucking.
- Reduces incidence of SIDS
This is a big one! Pacifier use has been shown in numerous studies to decrease the risk of SIDS, although the mechanism of action remains unknown. A few theories are:
- sucking on the pacifier prevents baby from entering too deep of a sleep state
- decreases gastroesophogeal reflux
- maintains better airway patency
- Keeps baby from sucking on thumb
Your baby will likely end up sucking on something, whether it be the pacifier or his thumb. Many parents find it easier to take away the pacifier vs. breaking the habit of thumbsucking.
- Reduces risk of overfeeding
Your baby might be sucking for an hour at the breast, alternating nutritive sucking with non-nutritive, using mommy as a pacifier for much of that time. Best to unlatch baby after you feel he’s gotten enough and offer the paci if needed. Letting him nurse too long can lead to overfeeding when he really just needs to suck.
Pacifiers can make painful immunizations and medical procedures a little bit easier. They are often used in hospitals during circumcisions and add that extra needed comfort.
- Lowered risk of allergies
How is this? Why of course, through a parent sucking on their child’s pacifier to clean it, instead of rinsing or boiling. Surprisingly, a recent study has discovered a link between sucking on your child’s pacifier and a reduced risk of allergies, hay fever, and asthma. Parental saliva appears to convey protective factors that help boost their kid’s immunity. Interesting, right?
- Increased risk of ear infections
A few studies have shown an increase in ear infections among babies using pacifiers. This could be caused by reflux of nasopharangeal secretions into the middle ear during sucking. However, this was primarily found in babies over 6 months and when pacifier use is limited, the risk is reduced.
- Orthodontic problems
Yes, they can interfere with teeth alignment, but this is usually only an issue with pacifier use in children over the age of 2.
What about nipple confusion?
You might have heard about this from your lactation consultant or pediatrician, as there is a belief that pacifier use leads to nipple confusion for a young baby. There is, however, very little scientific evidence to support the theory that pacifiers interfere with breastfeeding. In fact, pacifiers may actually help breastfeeding!
Read more about it here:
What kinds of pacifiers are best?
The pacifier section at the baby store could send you in a tizzy, as there a million to choose from! Here are a few of our favorites: