10 Crucial Things Moms Ought to Know about Pacifiers
If you’re a new mother or it’s your first time pregnant, you’ll need to learn the pacifier basics.
Although pacifiers seem simple to use, there is a right and wrong way to use them. From when to start, when to stop, their dangers and which type you should buy, there is a lot you need to know.
Instead of spending hours reading through multiple articles, we’ve compiled all the necessary information in this post, which should take you only about 8 minutes to read.
1. What Are Pacifiers Used For?
Pacifiers can be used when your baby hasn’t had enough suckling even after feeding. Some babies are soothed by cuddling, rocking and burping. However, if your baby is fussy even after you’ve given her attention, a pacifier may be what she needs.
Besides calming down your baby, research shows that pacifier use may have another purpose: Lowering a baby’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). In fact, according to one study, using a pacifier during sleep reduced a baby’s risk by a whopping 90%. In addition, it also eliminated other SIDS risk factors, such as the risk associated with a baby sleeping on their stomach or in a soft bed.
How pacifiers reduce the risk is unclear. Some researchers theorize that the act of sucking may be the reason, while other experts say it could be thanks to the handle that sticks out from a pacifier.
Pacifiers can also be used to calm a baby during painful procedures, such as receiving a shot. Most studies show that pacifiers can have an analgesic effect, meaning that it can reduce pain.
In summary, a pacifier can be used to:
- Soothe or calm a crying or fussy baby
- Distract or comfort a baby (ex. when getting tests or shots)
- Help a baby fall asleep
- Reduce the risk of SIDS
2. Pacifiers & Safety
Many people have questions when it comes to safety precautions they should take when using a pacifier.
When Should I Give a Pacifier?
To prevent many of the potential problems we discuss below, you shouldn’t give a pacifier to your baby too early. The right time to introduce a pacifier depends on how soon your baby takes to breastfeeding. You should wait until your baby is breastfeeding properly and you have a nursing routine, which is usually around 3 to 4 weeks.
Is It Safe for A Baby to Sleep with a Pacifier?
If a baby falls asleep with a pacifier in his mouth, it’s safe to keep it there. In fact, some mothers find that pacifiers help their baby to fall asleep. If you’re worried about choking hazards, buy a one-piece pacifier. If it falls out of the mouth while your baby is sleeping, don’t put it back in.
3. Will a Pacifier Affect Tooth Development or Ability to Breastfeed?
Some people think that using a pacifier may stop a baby from developing teeth properly. Others say it could affect a baby’s ability to latch during breastfeeding. Fortunately, both are untrue as long as you start and stop using a pacifier at the correct times.
While some research does suggest that pacifier use may be linked to less frequent breastfeeding and ending breastfeeding earlier, other research has concluded the opposite. A 2016 review of research found that pacifier use in healthy infants did not significantly affect breastfeeding. Before giving your baby a pacifier, you should already have breastfeeding well-established to prevent problems or confusion.
Although pacifiers used for a normal amount of time do not cause teeth issues, dental problems could arise if use is prolonged. If used too long, it may cause the teeth to be misaligned and they may not grow in properly. Most studies show that these problems only occur if a child uses a pacifier past age 5.
4. Is Pacifier or Thumb-Sucking Safer?
Some people may think that letting their child suck their thumb is a more natural alternative to a pacifier. However, thumb-sucking can actually be less safe for a few reasons.
Firstly, it’s easier to keep a pacifier clean. You know when your baby drops and dirties a pacifier, whereas you don’t always know where your baby’s thumb has been and whether it’s clean. The American Dental Association (ADA) also recommends using a pacifier over letting a child suck their thumb because it’s easier to wean a child off of a pacifier.
5. Can Pacifiers Cause Infections?
Since a pacifier goes into the mouth, any bacteria on the pacifier can be transferred to your baby. Under 6 months old, your baby’s immune system hasn’t matured and preventing infection is especially important.
This is why you should always take care of a pacifier and make sure it’s clean. To prevent contamination, wash frequently and whenever the pacifier is dropped. It can be sterilized in the dishwasher, by boiling it, or simply by using soap and water. “Cleaning” the pacifier in your mouth and then giving it to your baby is recommended against because it just spreads the bacteria.
For babies over 6 months old, pacifiers increase the risk of middle ear infections. However, middle ear infections are less common under 6 months when a baby is most likely to use a pacifier.
6. Other Safety Precautions You Should Take
Here are some additional safety tips to keep in mind:
- Some parents sweeten their baby’s pacifier with sugar, honey or corn syrup. However, the Canadian Dental Association (CDA) advises against it because it may cause tooth decay.
- Attaching the pacifier to a baby’s clothes using string may prevent it from falling, but it can also be a safety hazard.
- Don’t use pacifiers as the only calming method. You should also try rocking your baby, changing position, etc. To prevent overusing a pacifier, try only giving it to your baby after or between nursing sessions.
- Don’t force a pacifier on a baby. If he doesn’t want it, don’t force it into his mouth. If the pacifier falls out during sleep, don’t put it back in.
- If a pacifier begins to wear and becomes a hazard, replace it.
Although pacifiers are generally thought of as safe, more research into its possible side effects still needs to be done. Some parents may still be worried about pacifiers causing teeth or breastfeeding problems. Most pediatricians recommend using a pacifier safely and appropriately. However, the choice to use a pacifier is a personal one, determined by your baby’s needs.
7. Types of Pacifiers
There are a couple of different types of pacifiers:
- Multi-piece pacifiers— The nipple, guard and handle are three separate pieces.
- Single-piece pacifiers— Made out of one piece of plastic, meaning that it can’t come apart and be a choking hazard.
- Feeding pacifier— Food can be placed in the compartment attached to the bottom of the pacifier.
- Different shapes— Pacifiers come in different shapes and colors. Some novelty pacifiers even include a stuffed animal on the end.
8. What Should I Look For in a Pacifier?
- Correct size. A newborn will use a size small; a 6-18 month baby will use a medium; and babies over 18 months will need a large.
- A one-piece pacifier is safest. Pacifiers with two parts can be a choking hazard. One-pieces can also be easier to clean and better for germ prevention.
- High-quality multi-piece pacifier. If you choose to use a multi-piece pacifier, make sure it’s well-constructed, durable and high-quality.
- Dishwasher safe makes it easier to clean. And you’ll need to clean them frequently to prevent germs.
- BPA-Free. Most pacifiers are made from silicon or latex, so most are BPA-free anyway.
- Latex-free for allergies. Avoid pacifiers made from latex if your baby has a latex allergy.
Once you find a good pacifier, buy a few. Your baby will probably be spitting them out and they’re easy to misplace, so you always want a few extra on hand.
9. What is the Best Pacifier?
There is no one best pacifier. Generally, the safest pacifier is one that is a one-piece, considered high-quality and is the correct size for your baby. Here are a few bestsellers to get you started:
- Philips Avent Soothie
- NUK Newborn 100% Silicone Boy Orthodontic Pacifier
- Brown’s One Piece Silicone Pacifier
- Munchkin Latch Lightweight Pacifier
10. When to Stop Using a Pacifier
If you’ve just had your baby, you won’t need to worry about weaning your baby off for a while. However, since there are risks associated with the prolonged use of pacifiers, it’s crucial you know when your child is too old.
Most children will wean themselves off of their pacifier. This can happen anywhere from age 2 to 4. If a child isn’t weaning themselves off, they may need help from their parents. To help encourage them, praise your child every time he doesn’t use a pacifier.
Have you purchased a pacifier for your baby? If so, comment below which brand works best for you. If you have any new mother or pregnant friends, be sure to share this post with them!
P.S. Have you heard about fetal heart monitors? These handheld devices allow you to listen to your baby’s heartbeat while she’s still inside the womb. Many pregnant mothers find that the sound increases bonding and calms their worries. Check them out here.