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Pacifiers: Blessing or Curse?

Katlyn Joy |22, November 2010


Pacifiers: Blessing or Curse?

Call it whatever you will - pacifier, binky, fier, nukie, num-num or sucky, pacifiers have a reputation of either being evil or gifts from heaven. The defining moments depend on the family and the child's issues with or without the soother's use.

Common Concerns

Pacifiers will ruin my child's teeth. Pacifiers can interfere with a child's bite or cause a slant in the front teeth, but only if used well into the preschool years beyond when most children take pacifiers.

Pacifiers cause ear infections. This is a valid argument, and if your infant may be particularly at risk, you can avoid the problem by weaning your baby off the pacifier between six months of age and his first birthday.

Pacifiers interfere with breastfeeding. The American Academy of Pediatricians recommend waiting until the milk supply is established and baby has mastered latching on before using a pacifier. This should occur around 3 or 4 weeks of age.

The Pros of Pacifier Use

Pacifier use has been associated with a decreased risk of SIDS. While the exact reason is not completely researched or proven, it seems a good idea to introduce the pacifier to newborns up to six months old for sleeping times, both nighttime and naps.

Some babies seem to have a higher need for soothing and pacifiers can be a help. After nursing or feeding a baby, sometimes certain little ones still have a desire to suck for comfort rather than nourishment. Pacifiers can prove a godsend in this situation.

It's a handy distraction. If you're out and trying to find a quiet nursing space, or preparing a bottle having a binky on hand to keep baby from screaming for a few minutes is helpful. Also, pacifiers are good soothers during immunizations, during airplane flights and similarly nerve-wracking moments.

Pacifiers can help babies settle into sleep when nothing else seems to work. Some babies just aren't quite convinced they need to sleep and pacifiers can prove a nice tool for night time calming.

Pacifiers can be taken away when it's times to give them up. If your baby or toddler discovers the joys of thumbsucking you won't be so lucky.

The Cons of Pacifier Use

Pacifiers come out during the night and baby may wake up frequently. Until your baby is old enough to pop it back in her own mouth, she might cry more in the night due to losing her soother.

Pacifiers can be lost. Pacifiers might disappear, especially if it's a favorite one and it's either the middle of the night or in the middle of a long trip. If baby likes her fingers, well, those won't be misplaced under a couch cushion.

Pacifiers get dirty and germy. Of course, so do babies, but pacifiers that aren't kept clean can harbor germs that make baby sick.

Weaning a baby from the pacifier can be tough. The older the child, the more attached he will be to the pacifier. If the pacifier isn't taken away during baby's second year, expect a rough patch when the pacifier is taken away.

10 Tips for Pacifier Use

  • Never tie a pacifier around baby's neck, or have it attached to a string long enough to strangle the baby. Also never tie it to the crib.
  • Wash the pacifier frequently in soapy water and dry thoroughly or only buy dishwasher safe models to safeguard against germs.
  • Only use one-piece pacifiers and throw away a pacifier that becomes dry, brittle or cracked.
  • Make certain the pacifier is wider than your child's mouth and that it has air holes in the sides.
  • Never force a pacifier in a baby's mouth.
  • Try other soothing methods before offering the pacifier. Don't let it be your only technique for calming the baby.
  • Never put sugar or other sugary substances on a pacifier. You shouldn't put formula on it either.
  • Let the hospital know if you don't want to use, or prefer to hold off on introducing a pacifier to your newborn.
  • Don't let babies share pacifiers. Germs!
  • Talk to your doctor about when to wean from the pacifier.
Katlyn Joy is a freelance writer, and just graduated with a Master's of Arts in Creative Writing. She is mom to seven children, and lives in Denver, Colorado.

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Weaning Baby From His Pacifier


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