July 18, 2012

The Pacifier Debate: Use It or Lose It?

Deciding whether or not to allow your baby to use a pacifier has become a big debate amongst parents and caregivers. To gain a better perspective on pacifier usage, you must look at the pros and cons to your baby’s health and well-being.

Use It!
- The action of sucking soothes and calms a baby. Studies have shown that the use of a pacifier reduces the amount of crying and stress allowing baby to feel relaxed and content. This is the reason why 75% of babies are given a pacifier.
- A pacifier can be a great temporary distraction while preparing a feeding and for doctor visits requiring shots or other procedures.
- A medical benefit of pacifiers shows a link between preterm babies and the ability to gain weight faster. Sucking promotes oral muscle function and development making it easier for the baby to feed.
- A few studies have found that pacifiers are associated with the reduction to the risk of sudden death syndrome. Cause and effect relationship has not been proven and therefore is not currently supported by the SIDS alliance.
- A pacifier is disposable. When it is time to stop using a pacifier, you can throw it out but it is harder to wean a child away from his thumb.

Lose It!
- Prolonged pacifier use after the first year can lead to dental problems such as protruding top teeth for children ages 2 and up.
- Some babies have problems learning how to nurse if introduced to a pacifier before the breast as sucking is performed differently.
- Pacifiers can increase the risk of middle ear infections in children over the age of 6 months
- If your child is developing speech or language problems, ditch the pacifier. The sucking action locks a child’s mouth into an unnatural position making it more difficult to develop tongue and lip muscles normally.

Don’t let the pressure or guilt make the decision whether or not to use a pacifier. Instead, rely on your baby and your instincts to be your guide.