Pacifiers: Pros and cons


Most babies have a strong sucking reflex, and some start sucking their thumb or finger even before birth. In addition to helping with nutrition, sucking often has a soothing effect. Therefore, many parents let their babies use a pacifier. But are pacifiers good for your baby?

When considering pacifier use, you should be aware of the benefits, risks and safety tips for using a pacifier:

  • For some babies, a pacifier can satisfy them between feedings.
  • Using a pacifier may soothe fussy babies, as some babies are happiest when they suck on something.
  • A pacifier can be a temporary distraction, especially before or after a shot, blood test, or doctor's appointment.
  • If your baby has trouble settling down, a pacifier may help them fall asleep.
  • During the flight, a pacifier may provide relief for babies with ear pain.
  • Having a pacifier at nap time and at bedtime at night may help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Pacifiers are disposable, and when it's time to stop using a pacifier, they can be thrown away, which may be easier than breaking the habit of thumb or finger sucking.

Of course, pacifiers also come with drawbacks:

  • Babies may become dependent on a pacifier.
  • Babies who use a pacifier while sleeping may cry when the pacifier falls out of their mouth, disrupting their sleep.
  • Pacifier use may increase the risk of middle ear infections.
  • Prolonged use of pacifiers may cause problems with tooth development.
  • Using a pacifier may interfere with breastfeeding. Wait until your baby is 3 to 4 weeks old and has adjusted to a breastfeeding routine before using a pacifier.

If you choose to offer your baby a pacifier, keep these tips in mind:

  • Don't use a pacifier as your first line of defense for soothing your baby, only use a pacifier after a feeding or between feedings.
  • Choose a one-piece, dishwasher-safe variety. If you use a two-piece pacifier, it can be a choking hazard if it breaks.
  • Let your baby set the frequency of pacifier use, don't force it on them.
  • Until your baby is 6 months old and their immune system matures, regularly boil or run pacifiers through a dishwasher.

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