Pacifiers For Babies– Benefits, Risks, How & When To Use Them

Pacifiers are nipple substitutes made from rubber, plastic or silicone which are given to infants as a substitute to suck upon in between feeding times to alleviate its distress and satisfy the need to suck when it is not really hungry.

Many babies all over the world have a habit of sucking their fingers and toes at times or distress or just for fun. Studies have shown that suckling has a calming/soothing effect on the child; as a result many parents buy their children these pacifiers which they in most cases take a liking to. In any case, using a pacifier does mean the entry of a foreign object into the mouth of the child and is a cause of concern for the parents.

In this article we will be discussing the benefits and risks associated with the use of pacifiers. Also, we will be mentioning the scenarios under which a child should be provided with a pacifier and the situations in which it should not.

Benefits

  • Can help in soothing a fussy baby
  • Provide temporary distraction to the baby especially while getting vaccinated or during blood tests
  • Might help getting the baby to sleep
  • Might help ease discomfort during travel
  • Using pacifiers helps to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) which is defined as the sudden & unexplained death of an infant under the age of one.
  • These are disposable and the child’s habit to suck can be easily broken off.

Risks

  • If the baby becomes too dependent on the use of pacifiers while sleeping, then it might start crying in the middle of the night if the pacifier falls off its mouth
  • Extensive usage increases the risk of middle ear infections
  • Can cause dental problems on prolonged use
  • Might disrupt breastfeeding in case the pacifier is offered before the baby is 3-4 weeks old

How & when should pacifiers be used?

  • Pacifiers should only be offered at nap times.
  • It should be sterilized properly before being put into the baby’s mouth. If possible, pacifiers should be replaced within every few days’ time.
  • Single piece pacifiers should be used as they pose lesser choking hazard.
  • If the baby is not interested in the pacifier, it should not be forced.
  • Pacifiers should not be offered when the child is hungry; it should be fed properly otherwise its health is affected.
  • Pacifiers should not be offered to underweight babies; this indicates a lack of proper nutrition; as a result the feeding cycle should be adjusted accordingly at least until the baby reaches a proper weight
  • Sweet substances should not be coated onto the surface of the pacifier, the child might get used to the flavor and might get dental problems.

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