Imagine your baby is crying uncontrollably and you’re desperately trying to find a way to soothe him or her. Nothing seems to be working. Maybe you’re home trying to use everything around you to stop the crying. Or maybe you’re in public, in which case you are probably even more desperate as the judgmental looks are heading your way. Should you try a pacifier?
There are a variety of ways to soothe a baby in the scenario above, but none seem so easy and convenient as the baby pacifier. While there are several pros to giving a pacifier to your baby, there are also some cons as well. Here we have listed some of each to help make purchasing a baby pacifier an easier decision for you and your family.
When Do I Introduce The Pacifier?
It is a good idea to wait until your baby is a proficient at breastfeeding before introducing the pacifier. However, if your baby is feeding well and gaining weight, it is probably okay to introduce it before the recommended one month.
Although pediatricians recommend waiting, hospitals usually give them out during the hospital stay. I remember looking over at my baby girl and seeing that she was already sucking on a pacifier without my consent. Everything was fine with her feeding, but it is interesting that the hospitals do this when it is recommended to wait. If this is important to you, I would suggest you or your partner tell the nurses to not give your baby a pacifier. In my case, my baby girl seemed to really like it in the hospital as it soothed her from the craziness of all that had just happened to her. But it could have just as quickly caused an issue.
Pros of Using a Pacifier
1. Soothes The Baby
The pacifier is a nice way to calm crying babies because of their natural suck reflex. This is especially helpful if you are not able to attend to your child immediately, like in the checkout line. It can also be helpful when trying to get your baby to sleep if rocking and singing don’t seem to be working. However, if you do use a pacifier to settle your baby before sleep, always make sure it is not attached to a strap, stuffed animal, or anything else as it can be a choking hazard.
2. Helps When Mom Can’t Be Present
If you are a working mom or just need a well-deserved break, the pacifier can be a friend to the caretakers while you’re away. It will be both familiar and comforting when you are not around. Having a spare pacifier in our diaper bag has helped my little one to calm down when others were babysitting her.
3. Can Help With Teething Pains
My baby will play with the teethers I have for her, but she wants nothing to do with them or any other suggested teething relief method when the pain is really intense. Instead, she will take the pacifier with her own hand and hold it to the side of her mouth to chomp down on. You may discover that your baby feels better doing the same thing.
4. May Help Preterm Babies
Some studies have found that premature babies who used pacifiers actually gained weight faster and showed earlier sucking patterns. This is because sucking helps them work on their muscle development in the jaw, mouth, and throat which were not fully developed from early birth. It also teaches babies to coordinate the sucking, swallowing, and breathing sequence which is needed to be fed orally.
5. Good To Use If Flying On An Airplane
A pacifier is helpful to use when traveling on an airplane to help with the unavoidable ear pressure. The sucking motion provides a shift in the middle ear, thereby decreasing the pressure feeling.
Cons of Using a Pacifier
1. They Can Be a Hassle
Maybe it’s just me, but I feel like pacifiers can be a hassle. You have to consistently wash them, have enough stocked at home, and you have to make sure you have some in the diaper bag. They get constantly dropped, which means you have to either wash them each time or just go with the “they need to build up their immune system somehow” mindset (all the while wondering if you really should have washed it). You also have to be sure the pacifier you’re offering is the appropriate one designed for the current age of your baby.
2. A Child Can Get Too Attached
I have seen many babies who are way too attached to their pacifiers and either throw a complete fit when they do not have one or are just always using one. This leads to issues (or should I say tantrums?) if you don’t have one near or clean.
To avoid the attachment, offer the pacifier only when you feel it is really necessary, perhaps a couple of times a week or less, rather than throughout the day every day. If you feel like your baby is getting too attached to the pacifier, take it away on their first birthday when the battle will be less difficult.
3. Can Cause Dental Problems
This is only true if your baby is using a pacifier well past infancy and into toddlerhood/preschool years. Using a pacifier too long can affect the shape of the teeth and mouth, causing a possible overbite or crossbite.
4. Can Get Expensive
Okay, the cost of pacifiers is not going to break your bank, but if you have several for each stage, the cost does add up. It is recommended to stop use and replace a pacifier if there are any cracks or holes in it. Plus, pacifiers should not be handed down from child to child, meaning that you would have to replace all the pacifiers for every child.
5. Can Cause Ear Infections
Pacifiers have been known to increase the risk of middle ear infections in babies and young children because there is a change in pressure behind the ear and it promotes fluid collection when a baby sucks. The infection risk tends to be lower for young babies, meaning that you will most likely be fine if you stop using the pacifier around six months.
6. Can Cause Early Weaning From The Breast
People used to believe that giving pacifiers to breastfed babies could cause nipple confusion, but research is finding that this may not be the case. It is a good idea, however, to wait until after a baby is fed before giving him/her the pacifier. Try to not delay feedings by using a pacifier.
Now that you’ve read both the pros and cons of using a pacifier, it is up to you to make the best choice for your child. If you’ve ever had a crying baby, you know how amazing it is when you find something that soothes him/her. Keep in mind that babies like to be soothed in different ways because all babies are different. My baby girl has gone back and forth with pacifiers while some babies I know are hooked on them. If your child does not seem to want the pacifier, there is no reason to force it upon him/her. You can try again later, perhaps just before bed to help everyone get some extra shuteye. I wish you the best of luck in finding a way that soothes your child best!
For more information, check out our reviews of the Top 10 Best Baby Pacifiers of 2018.