Should My Baby Use a Pacifier or Not?

One of the many choices new parents have to make is whether to use a pacifier or not. Some people swear by them and some just maintain that they are evil and designed to do nothing but cause trouble.

A newborn baby does have a need to suck on something and if your baby is going to suck on anything, then you might view a pacifier as a better option than a baby’s thumb – because at least you can throw the pacifier away when your child hits a point that a pacifier is no longer needed.

Here are some pros and cons of using pacifiers which might help you make up your mind if you’re on the fence.

Pros of Using Pacifiers

pacifier* It fulfills that sucking need for a baby who hasn’t discovered his thumb or fingers yet, or one who just wants to suckle at the breast rather than actually breastfeeding for nutrient.

* It can really calm a fussy baby. When all else has failed and you know the baby isn’t hungry or wet or in pain, it can be really soothing.

* It has been linked to helping prevent SIDS. Because of the sucking motion, a baby with a pacifier might not sleep as deeply. The baby therefore wakes more easily to gasp for breath if she has a bout of apnea. It’s also believed the pacifier could open up the baby’s airways more. There is no need to put the pacifier back in a baby’s mouth once she has fallen asleep, though. The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) does recommend a pacifier for babies under the age of one.

Cons of Using Pacifiers

* While you might have heard that nipple confusion is a problem for breastfed babies who use a pacifier, that’s not entirely true. It’s more that it can interrupt with developing a good feeding pattern with a newborn baby. However, if you wait a month to introduce a pacifier, when you should hopefully have gotten over the most difficult time in breastfeeding, then you shouldn’t have anything to worry about in continuing long-term breastfeeding with your baby. This is especially true if you don’t use a pacifier as a crutch for every little sniffle and just use it at bed and nap time.

* You might find that you get less sleep, oddly enough. Those middle of the night wakings could become a battle of looking for the pacifier to replace it in a grumpy baby’s mouth who hasn’t learned any other ways of self-soothing to go back to sleep.

* It can be a hard habit to break. Once your child is using the pacifier into toddlerhood you begin to have concerns about ear infections and misaligned teeth due to pacifier use. And while toddlers love pleasing their parents, they are also notoriously obstinate. So you will hear a lot of people talking about how they can’t get their two-year-old to give up the binky and you will have to try things like the binky fairy coming and replacing the pacifier with a stuffed animal.

You might begin to see some speech delays forming if your child always has the pacifier in his mouth. Because think about it – how can a child learn to talk with something in his mouth all the time?

If you do decide to use a pacifier, then most of the cons can be avoided simply by always using the pacifier in moderation. Try other ways of soothing your child and don’t be so quick to put a plug in his mouth. Using it at bedtime and naptime only, starting at about six months old, will be helpful as well. And don’t force your child to take a pacifier. Some babies really don’t like pacifiers. Follow your baby’s cues and you will know what’s right for your child.

Would you use a pacifier with your baby? Why or why not?

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