Pacifiers have been used by parents to calm their babies for ages now, and true enough; comforting your new born is one of your major priorities. Some parents have used pacifiers once and never again for other kids because of the struggles to get rid of the habit. Baby pacifiers or dummies or soothers or comforters, as the name already suggests, are used to comfort and soothe babies. Some medical researchers suggest that use of pacifiers is potentially protective, and with the studies showing a relationship between pacifier use and a significantly reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome, commonly known as SIDS.
A strong suckling reflex is common to most babies. In fact, many babies are known to practice sucking the thumb or their fingers even before they are born. Sucking, apart from providing nutrition to babies, also gives them a feeling of familiarity, calmness and that is why some parents will always have a binky in their baby bags. Some babies are satisfied to suck during feeding and get settled with cuddles or rocking arms, while others can’t seem to have had enough-even though they aren’t hungry. It is at these times pacifiers will be the right thing if your baby still needs to suck after she’s had her milk. Pacifiers also act as a temporary distraction to young babies, especially at times when the crankiness meter is overshooting.
Some researchers have proven that babies who use pacifiers while sleeping have a reduced risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). But the studies haven’t confirmed that pacifiers prevent SIDS, there is just a strong link between the use of a pacifier and a relatively lower risk of SIDS. Though doctors are not sure about the nature of the relationship between pacifiers and SIDS, but it is indicated that you will reduce the chances of SIDS by more than half, if you give your baby a binky when she’s asleep. Read about SIDS here
A pacifier is made up of three parts; nipple, guard and ring. The nipple is usually made of latex or silicone which closely relates a mother’s nipple. The second part is the guard – it prevents ingestion. The guard is attached to the nipple and is made up of one single piece and moulded together thus it aids in the prevention of choking hazards. Last part, the ring is at the center of the guard to pull the pacifier from the mouth if ingestion occurs. Most have BPA’s in them.
The plastic that is used in making them contains chemicals such as diisononyl phthalate (DINP) or phthalate esters and are considered harmful, but the amount used in pacifiers is far too less and is harmless. These chemicals do a release when sterilized. Silicone dummies were considered to be safe for quite a long time now. But only safe pacifiers are those which has no additives or synthetics, but for safety these need to be replaced every four to six weeks which could be inconvenient and costly. Orthodontic soothers are available nowadays and are flatter as compared to dummies used over the years and specifically designed for baby’s jaw and tooth development.
Pacifiers come in mainly two types – latex and silicone. They may also have different nipple shapes, which can be straight or elongated. Some pacifiers will have a ring on the back, while others may have something as a button. Most of them will come with some sort of nipple covers, infact always buy ones that have caps. Some special orthodontic pacifiers have a rounded top and a flat bottom. You can buy a few different pieces so that you can figure out which one is your child’s favorite.
If you want to introduce a dummy, do consider the following guidelines:-
Do not offer a pacifier to a baby who is having problems gaining weight or is unable to feed properly. The baby needs to spend time to suck your breast else your milk supply can get affected.
If your baby keeps sucking the pacifier post the age of two years, dental development is likely to get affected. Misaligned teeth and changes in the roof of the mouth are some dental problems that surface in kids who hang on to the pacifier for too long. A gap between the front upper and lower teeth, crooked, crowded and protruding teeth etc. are other common dental effects of using a pacifier above the age of two.
When a binky is used for longer periods, bacteria from the baby’s mouth can move into the tubes that run between the ears and harbor ear infections. The mucus does not get drained in time and makes your baby susceptible for oral fungal infections as well.
Though you might have heard about it, nipple confusion is not really caused if your baby is used to be comforted with a binky. However, if your baby is sucking on the pacifier more than what she should be, then this could result in less sucking of the breast. Because your milk supply is dependent on your baby’s suckling, it is always advised to limit the time your baby spends with the pacifier. Due to this important reason it is suggested that breastfeeding moms wait until baby is nursing well, usually about three or four weeks post birth before introducing the pacifier. Always remember, the breast must be offered first when the baby appears hungry.
A pacifier isn’t an alternative to feeds, but if your baby doesn’t seem to settle down after she feeds, is hugged and given lovey-dovey cuddles, burps, and shakes her leg or two, then you might as well try to satisfy her with a pacifier. If a baby wants to sleep with a pacifier, let her – but if she drops it, do not try putting it back into her mouth. However, you must not use a pacifier to delay feedings, or substitute it for her hunger needs – unless it is absolutely required. There is no harm in using a pacifier when you know home is ten minutes away, but beyond that, pacifiers must not be used as an alternative to feedings.
Some parents adapt the practice of putting a binky in their child’s mouth the moment she lets out a wail or two. This will make you overlook the reasons why your baby is really crying (she needs a diaper change, or is hungry). The result may be a baby who can be happy only with something in her mouth, and who is unable to comfort herself in any other way. This can take up ugly shapes tomorrow.
Well, many babies do so when inside the womb, and though it is not harmful if they do so even after birth to calm and soothe themselves, it will pose problems when your baby starts developing teeth and the has started to use her hands to touch every surface that comes her way. Sucking is a coping mechanism for babies, and once they develop vocal skills, they will find it much harder to get away from thumb sucking (so readily available). Sucking puts pressure on the sides of the upper jaw and the soft tissue on the roof of the mouth and can cause problems for teeth and the mouth to develop properly.
A habit of dummy is easier to break as compared to thumb-sucking habit. After all, you could get rid of a pacifier by disposing, but the thumb…
Always remember what’s considered safe today might not be safe tomorrow. Think what is right for your baby’s future.
NEXT: Pros and Cons Of Using A Pacifier.