Are pacifiers really good for your baby?
Here are some important facts that you should know about using pacifiers, which may help you decide on whether to use them on your baby.
If you are one of those parents who want to comfort their babies and are thinking of offering them pacifiers, here are a few things that you should know about them which may help you to decide:
Benefits of a pacifier:
1) It satisfies the baby’s need for sucking.
Non-nutritive sucking is a normal infant reflex, as babies are born with a need to suck. The frequency varies from baby to baby.
Babies tend to suck when they are bored, tired or in need of comfort. A pacifier may just satisfy the baby’s urge to suck.
2) It helps the baby to fall asleep.
Babies enjoy the self-comforting feeling of sucking as they doze off to sleep. The pleasurable stimulation of sucking helps babies cope better with the distractions around them.
3) It reduces the risk of overfeeding for bottle-fed babies.
The urge to suck is often misunderstood as a sign of hunger. You may be overfeeding your already full baby. Some parents offer a pacifier if the baby still wants to suck even if he/she has been fed adequately.
4) It is easier to control the use of a pacifier than to stop thumb-sucking.
You can make your baby stop using a pacifier by simply throwing it away when the need arises. However, thumb-sucking becomes a habit that may be difficult to break because, well, thumbs are always available to them!
Problems associated with pacifiers:
1) They may inhibit growth.
Sucking activity requires energy, and their overuse may result in poor weight gain and poor feeding, especially among frail babies.
2) They pose a greater risk of ear infections.
Pacifiers may be a source of middle ear infections because prolonged and continuous sucking may change pressure within the middle ear chamber.
3) Too much use may lead to delayed speech.
It would be difficult for the baby to talk while having a pacifier in the mouth. Infants can get addicted to them and their use after a year can interfere with their normal speech and babbling.
4) Inappropriate and prolonged use may lead to dental problems.
The use of pacifiers can lead to many dental problems such as protruding and crooked teeth, and can even alter the shape of the mouth. Pacifiers dipped in corn syrup, honey or glucose can lead to teeth decay among infants.
Here are some do’s and don'ts to follow when using a pacifier:
1) You should sterilize it before use by boiling it in water for about 5 minutes.
2) It’s a good idea to have similar back-up pacifiers in case your baby's pacifier gets lost or falls on the floor or street. Having spare pacifiers will also allow time for their proper cleaning, which should be done by washing them with warm, soapy water.
3) It’s a good idea to discontinue their use well before the child reaches 5 years of age.
4) Never force your baby to use a pacifier. If your baby doesn’t accept it, try other ways of soothing him/her.
5) Choose a pacifier based on the age of your child. In most cases, the one-piece model with a soft nipple is the most suitable of the lot.
6) Do not attach a ribbon or string longer than 6 inches to your baby's pacifier, as this is a choking hazard.
Parents are sharply divided over the question of the use of pacifiers. While some cringe at their sight, others are gung-ho about them. Which side of the fence are you on? Let us know by leaving a comment below!