Pacifiers or soothers are one of the parent’s best friends when it comes to soothing the babies. Pacifiers can help in the prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and they often come in handy during air travel and doctor visits.
Like all other products that go into the baby’s mouth, parents have to be careful about the pacifiers they buy and use. If you follow the tips given below, a pacifier would indeed become one of your best friends.
What can you read in this article?
- Pacifier safety: Pacifier pros and cons
- Are pacifiers bad for babies
- Should I remove pacifier when baby is sleeping
Pacifier safety. | Photo by Ivan Samkov from Pexels
Babies tend to have a strong sucking reflex – a primitive reflex that compels them to suck anything that touches their lips or surrounding area.
This reflex helps them to obtain nutrition, and in turn, satisfaction. Pacifiers offer clean and safe sucking equipment to help soothe the baby.
A pacifier typically has three parts: a shield with holes for ventilation, a nipple or teat made of a soft elastic material, and a ring for holding the pacifier.
Safety tips, are pacifiers bad for babies?
Here are some things you should look out for while choosing, using and maintaining a pacifier.
Choosing the right pacifier
There are a lot of types of pacifiers to choose from, from plain ones to fancy ones. Choose the right pacifier for safety for your little one by following these tips:
- Age appropriate: Choose a pacifier suitable for the age of the baby. Pacifiers with teats that are too big or too small will pose a choking hazard to the child.
- Design: Avoid pacifiers that have parts that get detached easily as they may become a choking hazard.
- Ventilation: The ventilation holes in the shield should cover a minimum surface area of 20 sq. mm with at least two holes of 4 mm each. To be on the safe side, the area of the holes should be comparable to the nail of your small finger. Make sure that the holes are not obstructed.
- Do not innovate! Do not create a pacifier of your own or use another object as a substitute. It could be a risky affair as your baby may swallow and choke on the object.
Using and maintaining the pacifier
Even when you get the right pacifier, proper use and maintenance are required for it to be safe for your baby. (Ensure that your pacifier is safe and clean by following these tips)
- Clean: Clean the pacifier before every use. You can sterilize the pacifier using the same sterilization techniques as for milk bottles.
- Inspect for cracks: Inspect the pacifier for any cracks or wear and tear before each use. Damaged pacifiers pose a potential choking hazard, and should be replaced immediately.
- Storage: Store the pacifier in a cool and dry place, away from light and heat sources. Follow the instructions that come with the pacifier.
- Replace: Replace the pacifier every one to two months. Avoid buying in bulk and storing them for a long time, as the material may harden over time.
- Pacifier holders: Do not attempt to make your own pacifier holders as they may pose a strangulation hazard to your child. Use only dedicated pacifier holders and ensure that they are free from small parts that may detach.
- Removing a lodged pacifier: If you find that the pacifier has gotten stuck in the mouth of your baby, do not panic. Secure the head of the baby with one hand and remove the pacifier as gently as possible using the fingers of your other hand. Do not use the same type of pacifier again – go for one with a bigger shield.
Pacifier pros and cons
Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels
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Let’s start with the pros.
1. The likelihood of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is decreased
Sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS is one of the most feared occurrences of parents with a newborn. This is the unexpected and unexplained death of the baby while he is sleeping.
There are studies that say pacifiers help reduce the likelihood of SIDS, especially when he or she is sleeping at night.
2. It helps in the growth of preterm infants
One study found that the use of a pacifier by preterm babies born before the mother’s full-term pregnancy helps to strengthen the baby and facilitate their breastfeeding.
The study showed that there is a good change in digestion or nutrition intake of infants under 32 weeks when they use a pacifier while undergoing gavage feeding (or when nutrients are passed through the nasal tube into the baby’s stomach).
3. It calms your baby
Parents of babies know how difficult it is to calm a crying baby. Sometimes, the only way they stop crying is when they have something to suck.
For some babies, this is the reason for their breastfeeding. But they can’t breastfeed all the time because it is also bad for the baby when he has too much milk.
One of the ways to calm a crying baby is when he is given a pacifier that he can suck on for a long time.
Using a pacifier also helps the baby when they are traveling far away. The air pressure inside the plane is bad so it helps if the baby is sucking something so he doesn’t have a problem with his ear.
Here are the side effects of using a pacifier on the baby
1. It can cause an ear infection
According to one study, using a pacifier on a baby raises the likelihood that it will develop otitis media, or an infection that occurs in a child’s ear. Some of the symptoms that can be noticed in babies are more frequent crying and anxiety.
2. The likelihood of the baby becoming overweight increases
According to one study, infants 4 months and up who use a pacifier are more likely to grow overweight or overweight by age 2 than children who do not use a pacifier.
3. Your child may have a dental problem
A pacifier is not bad for a baby’s teeth, but for children 2 years of age and older, it can affect the shape or appearance of his teeth.
The child’s jaw and gums are still soft, so if he always has a pacifier plugged into his mouth at age 2 and especially when over age 4 (when the child’s permanent teeth start to come out), it can cause dental problems such as overbite or crossbite.
4. This can interfere with the baby’s breastfeeding
Giving a pacifier to the baby early can cause nipple confusion where it is more difficult for the baby to latch on to your nipple. The baby can also get tired quickly from breastfeeding so he does not get enough milk.
5. This can cause an infection in the baby
If the pacifier is not cleaned properly before giving it to the baby, or if it falls into a dirty place and then the baby puts it in his mouth, it may contain viruses and harmful germs that the baby can pick up and cause a viral infection.
6. It can start “bad habits” in the parent
Some parents give their child a pacifier every time it cries, so sometimes, they don’t even notice or know the real reason for crying. Sometimes, it also becomes a problem when instead of feeding the baby, he is just given a pacifier to calm him down.
7. The baby may become too fond of the pacifier
When he becomes too accustomed to using a pacifier, he may become too dependent on it. Some children do not sleep until they have the pacifier or do not breastfeed much even when they are hungry.
Sometimes, parents even find it difficult to stop their child from using the pacifier even when it is large (ages 2 and up).
Should I remove pacifier when baby is sleeping
Pacifier safety. | Photo by ANTONI SHKRABA from Pexels
Even if your child isn’t crying, sucking a pacifier can help them go asleep and stay asleep for longer, which means you’ll get more sleep as well.
What could be better? Baby pacifiers have also been linked to a lower risk of sleep-related death. Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is the leading cause of death in babies aged one month to one year.
Giving your baby a pacifier while they sleep has been linked to a lower incidence of SIDS, maybe by more than half, according to several medical studies.
Pacifier safety checklist
Remember these five things before you use the pacifier next time for safety.
- Choose an age appropriate pacifier with secure parts, at least two ventilation holes in the shield and that is made of good material.
- Inspect the pacifier for cracks or damages before every use. Replace the pacifier immediately if it is damaged.
- Use only dedicated soother holders. Ensure that they are free of small parts.
- Store the pacifier away from light and heat. Sterilize it before every use.
- Replace the pacifier every one to two months for safety and hygiene.
A pacifier is a wonderful product with many proven advantages. Used correctly, it helps the parents soothe a restless baby in a safe way. Safety goes a long way when we are caring for our little ones.
Republished with permission from theAsianparent Singapore
Additional information from Margaux Dolores
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