Everything You Need to Know About Pacifiers
Pacifier, Binky, Dummie, Soothie, whatever you call it the facts and myths about them are the same. I was really surprised by how little I knew about pacifiers.
There is a lot of debate about if one should use a pacifier or not. Hopefully, this will help you decide what is best for you and your baby.
My Experience With Pacifiers
As a first-time mom what I didn’t realize was that you have to make known to EVERYONE your decision about the pacifier right away, and I mean right away!
Tell your doctor, tell ALL your nurses, and tell your friends and family. Here’s why…
In the beginning, my husband and I had decided we did not want our baby to use the pacifier. This decision was decided purely off our tiny knowledge about what we had heard others say about them.
Such as; “It’s so hard to break the habit when your child is older.” “Your baby will get nipple confusion.” “It’s going to ruin their teeth.” And the list goes on.
Anyways… you need to tell EVERYONE your views on the pacifier because what I didn’t realize is that family and friends trying to lend a helping hand go right to popping that pacifier in as soon as the baby starts crying. Also, nurses will use a pacifier to help soothe your little one when giving them their shots unless you tell them not to.
The only reason I know this now is because while I was in the hospital, having just given birth to my child the day before, the nurse had taken our baby to the nursery so that we could get some much-needed sleep. She mentioned that they could go ahead and do the shots while the baby was in the nursery. That plan sounded good to me. I was not ready to see my baby cry from shots!
A few hours later when she brought the baby back into us, she nonchalantly says, “We did give your baby a pacifier when we gave her the shots to help calm her down.”
Part of me was mad because they didn’t ask our opinion before doing it. Then the other part of me was glad that is helped soothe my little one.
Nipple Confusion and Pacifiers
My other decision as a first-time mom was to give breastfeeding a chance. Breastfeeding is not easy!
Getting my baby to latch took a lot of effort and was really exhausting.
I met with two different lactation nurses who gave me completely different advice. Don’t be afraid to ask for a 2nd or even 3rd opinion and then do what works best for you.
All I wanted to do while trying to get my baby to latch was complain about nipple confusion and blame everything on the nurse who gave my baby a pacifier.
Here is the cold hard facts though, there is no way to tell if your baby is going to be a baby that is affected by nipple confusion. Until it’s too late!
Nipple confusion is caused because sucking on a breast and sucking on a pacifier or bottle are completely different techniques.
When a baby latches to a breast they must open their mouth wide and create a wave-like motion with their tongue. The tongue compresses the breast against the roof of their mouth.
When a baby latches to a bottle they will lift the back of their tongue to stop the milk flow and protect their airway. This is the same technique the baby will use with a pacifier.
If you are worried about nipple confusion it is recommended to wait on using a pacifier or bottle until your baby has a better understanding of how to latch to the breast. This commonly takes 3-4 weeks.
Some babies don’t have any problem going back and forth between the two.
After having the nurse expose our baby to the pacifier and having had some family members do the same thing my husband and I felt defeated. We decided it was pointless to try and stop the use of the pacifier.
Then after doing some reading up on pacifiers I quickly realized the pros greatly outweighed the cons and I wasn’t as upset about everything that had happened.
Don’t Overuse the Pacifier
For all the cons out there, there is a resolution to the problem. It’s all about understanding when the pacifier has a purpose and when it doesn’t.
The pacifier is not meant to shut your baby up or give you more time to get to their feeding.
Ask yourself these questions before giving your baby a pacifier:
- Could my baby be hungry? As a newborn, babies will eat every 2-4 hours.
- Does my baby need a clean diaper?
- Could my baby be too hot or too cold?
If the answer to all these questions is no, try the pacifier.
Never push the pacifier on your baby though. If your baby doesn’t want it, don’t force it.
Don’t force it, because like so many say it can become a hard habit to break.
The Weaning Process
Don’t let the pacifier become a hard habit to break.
You can do this by:
- Never forcing the pacifier on your baby while they are young.
- Start the weaning process at 6 months of age.
- Honor the role the pacifier has played in your little one’s life.
- Be Consistent. Remember you are not the only one in your child’s life that might be giving them a pacifier.
Why 6 Months?
One of the pros of the pacifier is that is said to help reduce the risk of SIDS. At 6 months the chance of your baby getting SIDS is greatly reduced.
However, at 6 months the risk of your baby getting an ear infection is higher. This is one of the cons of the pacifier. The pacifier can interfere with the development of the ear which will cause increased pressure and infection.
Start limiting the pacifier to only naps and bedtime.
How to Honor the Role the Pacifier has Played.
Then when the time comes to remove the pacifier completely make it a positive experience for your kiddo.
Let them think it is their idea to let go. Some people like to use the ‘Pacifier Fairy‘ as a way to eliminate the pacifier. Personally, I love this idea!
Don’t forget to keep everyone in your child’s life on the same page.
Family, friends, and daycare all need to know when it’s okay to have the pacifier and when you are no longer using one.
The Cons of Using a Pacifier
An Unhealthy Attachment
I believe that when handled properly by using all the tips we’ve already discussed there will never be an unhealthy attachment.
Don’t force the pacifier, use only after asking the 3 questions, start the weaning process early on, and let go using a creative and positive method.
It is a known fact that pacifiers increase the risk of ear infection from the ages of 6-12 months.
This is why it is best to start the weaning process at 6 months.
Prevents Weight Gain
Too often people use the pacifier to soothe their children to sleep at night or hold off on feedings. Do not starve your baby!
Don’t use the pacifier as a meal replacement just so you can sleep.
May Become a Choking Hazard
Make sure you always check for cracks or tears in the pacifier before giving it to your baby.
Also, keep in mind you should not give your baby their pacifier right after giving them medicine or use the pacifier as a tool to give your little one medicine.
Some medicines will cause the pacifier material to break down.
It is also good practice to throw out a pacifier after two months of use.
Also, make sure that if you are using a pacifier clip that the cord is not long enough to wrap around your baby’s neck and cause strangulation.
Affects Speech and Causes Dental Problems
These two cons have only been proven to be an issue if your child is using their pacifier longer than necessary.
If you start the weaning process at 6 months and retire the pacifier by age 2 you cannot blame the pacifier on these problems.
Might Cause a Latex Allergy
If you avoid latex pacifiers you’ve avoided this con.
It is actually recommended to use a one-piece silicone style pacifier.
Our favorite pacifier is JollyPop!
Why We Like JollyPop
JollyPop comes in different sizes and styles.
It’s Latex-free, BPA-free, Phthalate-free, DEHP-free. Basically what this comes down to is it’s safe for your baby.
It’s used in hospitals.
It has a loop-shaped handle. This is great for when you are laying it down on the table. Lay it loop side down so that the nipple never comes in contact with surface germs.
JollyPop also has teething nubs for when baby starts to teethe.
JollyPop has attached cuddle squares and plush holders.
Among several other great benefits that I won’t bore you with.
The Pros of Using a Pacifier
Decreased Risk of SIDS
Several studies suggested that the use of a pacifier while sleeping decreases the risk of SIDS.
Control of a Habit
Breaking a pacifier habit is going to be much easier than trying to break a thumb-sucking habit.
As a parent, you have control of the pacifier sticking around, and your baby’s thumb is totally their own. You can’t take their thumbs away.
Pacifiers help a baby learn how to self-soothe which will boost their confidence and help calm them when they are scared.
The world is a scary place for your newborn who had been safe in your tummy for so long.
Learning Sucking Pattern
Preemies who can’t always figure out a sucking pattern have been able to develop the skill with the use of a pacifier.
Helps with Hiccups
The sucking pattern that is used with the pacifier will help your baby get rid of their hiccups.
It’s nice being able to have a pacifier to help soothe your little one when you are traveling, and it’s an easy item to toss in the diaper bag.
Establish a Routine
I’ve also found that the pacifier has helped me establish a sleeping routine with my baby.
When I can’t calm my little one down for nap time or bedtime the pacifier is a great way to help ease them to sleep.
I’m Glad I Decided to Let My Baby Use A Pacifier
For me, after gaining a better understanding of pacifiers the pros outweighed the cons.
Have you found pacifiers to be helpful in your life or did you choose not to use them?
I’d love to hear how it’s worked out for your family with or without and if you discovered any other pros or cons.
It’s not always an easy decision, and every baby will be different.
I think back to those first few days in the hospital when I didn’t want to use a pacifier with my baby and gosh… our lives would be very different.
I do believe the invention of the pacifier has made our lives just a little easier!
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