Pacifiers- The Basics

7 min read

Written by Editorial Team

Editorial Team

Pacifiers- The Basics.
Pacifiers have been used by parents to calm their babies for ages now, and true enough; comforting your newborn 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 the use of pacifiers is potentially protective, and studies show a relationship between pacifier use and a significantly reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome, commonly known as SIDS.

In This Article

How Does A Pacifier Work?

A strong suckling reflex is common in most babies. In fact, many babies are known to practice sucking their thumb or their fingers even before they are born. Sucking, apart from providing nutrition to babies, also gives them a feeling of familiarity and 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.

Pacifiers And SIDS

Pacifierrs and SIDS.

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, 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

What Are Pacifiers Made Of?

What are pacifiers made of.

A pacifier is made up of three parts; nipple, guard, and ring. The nipple is usually made of latex or silicone which closely relates to 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 molded together, thus it aids in the prevention of choking hazards. The 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 is considered harmful, but the amount used in pacifiers is far too less and is harmless. These chemicals do 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 are specifically designed for a baby’s jaw and tooth development.

What Are The Types Of Pacifiers?

Types of pacifiers.

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 cover, in fact, 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.

Introducing A Pacifier To The Baby

Introducing pacifier.

If you want to introduce a dummy, do consider the following guidelines:-

  • Introduce a pacifier after your baby is one month to six weeks old, and knows how to suck.
  • When you try it for the first time and if your baby takes it right away, it’s fine. But if she resists, do not force it on her. Try another time, and still if she doesn’t like it, drop the idea.
  • Give the pacifier when the baby has had a feed and is not hungry.
  • Avoid using binkys to delay feeds- pacifiers are not alternatives to milk.
  • Never tie a pacifier around the baby’s neck, on the crib, or anywhere else in a body to provide immediate access- this could be strangulating.
  • Rinse it with warm water and keep it clean at all times for the baby’s safety and replace it as you notice any cracks, hole,s or splits. If the binky is dishwasher safe, clean it every day.
  • Never dip them in juices or any sweet liquids as this might cause cavities and teething problems.
  • Before she turns one, wean your baby off her dummy. It’s easier to do it at this age. Your baby must be off the binky by the time she is 2.

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 sucking your breast else your milk supply can get affected.

Does A Pacifier Affect My Baby’s Teeth?

Does A Pacifier Affect My Baby’s Teeth_.

If your baby keeps sucking the pacifier past 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.

Can Pacifiers Cause Ear Infection In Babies?

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.

Do Pacifiers Affect Breastfeeding?

Do Pacifiers Affect Breastfeeding_.

Though you might have heard about it, nipple confusion is not really caused if your baby is used to being comforted with a binky. However, if your baby is sucking on the pacifier more than 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 the 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.

Pacifier Is Not An Alternative To Milk

_Pacifier Is Not An Alternative To Milk _.

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 to put it back into her mouth.

However, never 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 adopt 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. They fail to comfort themselves in any other way. This can take up ugly shapes tomorrow.

Can My Baby Suck Her Thumb Instead?

Can My Baby Suck Her Thumb Instead

Well, many babies suck their thumb when inside the womb. It is not harmful if they do so even after birth to calm and soothe themselves. But, it will pose problems when your baby starts developing teeth. It can lead to illness when the baby has started to use their hands to touch every surface.

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. It can cause problems for teeth and the mouth to develop properly.

A habit of the dummy is easier to break as compared to a thumb-sucking habit. After all, you could get rid of a pacifier by disposing of it, but the thumb…

Always remember what’s considered safe today might not be safe tomorrow. Think about what is right for your baby’s future.

NEXT: Pros and Cons Of Using A Pacifier.

Editorial Team,

With a rich experience in pregnancy and parenting, our team of experts create insightful, well-curated, and easy-to-read content for our to-be-parents and parents at all stages of parenting.Read more.

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