Pacifiers can get a bad rap among the members of the parenting community. However, are pacifiers really as bad as they are made out to be? On the other hand, are they truly indispensable as other parents may think? Let’s find out.
How do pacifiers work?
A newborn baby’s natural instinct is to suck. This reflex not only comforts them but also helps them survive and thrive. That is why other than providing them nourishment, the act of suckling when feeding is important because it soothes them and keeps them feeling calm.
When you breastfeed, letting your baby suckle each time they fuss is okay, although it can definitely be tiring on your part. But when you formula-feed, you cannot simply offer a bottle each time your baby fusses or cries. This is where pacifiers come in. They offer an alternative to the breast or the bottle for when your baby needs to be comforted by sucking.
But what are the pros and cons of letting your baby use the pacifier?
4 Benefits of Pacifiers
1. Using pacifiers may reduce the risk of SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, letting your baby use a pacifier during naptime and bedtime greatly reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or SIDS. However, you should never leave a baby with a pacifier attached to her with a strap, such as from her neck or from a crib, because this is a choking hazard.
2. Using pacifiers may help mothers with postpartum depression.
The use of pacifiers may also come as a great relief for new moms who are suffering from postpartum depression. Because the newborn stage is innately challenging, it may be even more difficult for moms with PPD. But by letting a baby use a pacifier, new moms get to have some rest, especially if they are breastfeeding.
3. Using pacifiers can make difficult things easier.
Another benefit of using pacifier has something to do with making things easier for your baby. For example, offering your baby a pacifier during vaccinations can distract them from the sensation of the painful procedure. When you are traveling, letting your baby suckle on a pacifier also relieves pressure they feel in their ears when the plane takes off or lands.
4. Using pacifiers may be better than letting your baby suck on their thumb.
Finally, considering that a little baby’s natural reflex is to suck, it may be better to let your baby suck on a pacifier rather than their thumb or their fingers. When it’s time for your baby to wean from the pacifier, it is a lot easier to take away a pacifier than their thumbs.
4 Disadvantages of Pacifiers
1. Using pacifiers may lead to long-term dental problems.
Perhaps the most common thing you might hear about pacifiers is how it causes dental problems in the long run. The pacifier may, indeed, affect the shape of the teeth and the mouth if it is used long-term. If a child constantly uses a pacifier, they may develop problems such as an overbite or cross bite.
2. Using pacifiers is linked to middle ear infections.
The use of pacifiers has also been connected to ear infections possibly because of the change in pressure behind the ear when a baby sucks and swallows. The reason why the same issue is not being linked to bottle-feeding and breastfeeding is that it the pacifier may also introduce germs. Also, babies don’t usually feed the whole time, unlike pacifiers which can be left in a baby’s mouth for long amounts of time.
3. Using pacifiers may foster dependence and addiction.
Babies love pacifiers because the sensation of sucking feels good to them. Unfortunately, this may mean complete dependence on pacifiers, especially if they are allowed to use the pacifier for long periods of time. If a baby becomes completely dependent on the pacifier, they may become hysterical and throw tantrums once they can’t find their pacifier.
4. Using pacifiers may lead to weight gain.
Finally, it has been found that the use of pacifiers may also cause babies to become overweight as they grow older. While there are no specific explanations offered about this yet, it is possible that the weight gain is caused by the lack of control infants exhibit when they use the pacifier.
In order to reduce the risks of pacifiers, it is important to remember a few guidelines. For example, if you are breastfeeding, then you should wait until you and your baby have settled into a consistent nursing routine before offering a pacifier for the first time. When comforting a baby, the pacifier should be used as a last resort.
A pacifier can be a really helpful tool especially to struggling new parents and new moms who are suffering from PPD or postpartum depression. It has also been said to reduce the risk of SIDS. However, parents should understand that the use of the pacifier should be controlled and that they should never allow their babies to become completely dependent on one.