84% of babies use a pacifier at one point or another. Does that mean we should give them a pacifier, or not?
The pros of using a pacifier
- It is better to suck on a pacifier than on fingers because it causes less damage to the teeth development.
- It’s easier to control sucking on a pacifier rather than on fingers. You can throw away the pacifier at one point but you can’t get rid of a thumb!
- According to the latest medical research, sucking on a pacifier reduces the chances of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
The cons of using a pacifier
- Not using a pacifier correctly can lead to problems with breastfeeding, teeth (cavities and overbites) and even ear infections.
- Homemade pacifiers, pacifiers dipped in a sweet liquid or pacifiers tied around the neck are not very secure and could be harmful and even deadly for a baby. If you decide to use a pacifier for your child, use it the right way.
Instructions for use
- Make sure that breastfeeding is well established before introducing a pacifier; otherwise, it could become difficult to breastfeed. Sick, premature or hospitalized babies are an exception to this rule since they need the pacifier for self-soothing.
- Always check if the baby is hungry, tired or bored before giving them their pacifier. Not every problem is solved with a pacifier. Feed the baby, let them take a nap or play with them!
- Before using a new pacifier, you must boil it in water for 5 minutes to sterilize it. Wait until it cools down before giving it to your baby.
- Wash it in hot soapy water after each use to keep it clean. A recent study took 40 pacifiers and showed that 52.5% of them had traces of microorganisms.
- Don’t put the pacifier in your mouth to “clean” it. You may pass germs on to your baby.
- Always check to see if the pacifier is either torn or ripped before giving it to your baby. If it is, throw it out.
- Some medication (such as painkillers, antibiotics, and vitamins) can damage the pacifier.
- Don’t dip the pacifier in sugar or honey. These foods are bad for the teeth and cause cavities. Furthermore, honey may cause botulism, a type of infant food poisoning.
- Don’t tie the pacifier around the baby’s neck because he or she could get strangled. Use pacifier clips with short ribbons as a safe option.
- Don’t make your own pacifiers with the tip of a baby’s bottle, a bottle top or fabric. Your baby could choke.
- Don’t leave an older child with a pacifier in their mouth all day long. It could affect their language development or cause dental problems.
- Don’t let your baby chew on the pacifier. The pacifier could break and they could choke.
Many pieces of research show a strong correlation between using a pacifier and a premature breastfeeding withdrawal. The pacifier can be “confused with the breast” or preferred to the breast, especially if it was given early on before the breastfeeding was well established. La Leche League Canada highly advises against using a pacifier to replace the breast or the mother’s comforting presence. However, they explain that for first-time breastfeeding mothers, the pacifier can be useful if used correctly, in short doses and in specific situations.