Mild ear infections
Using a pacifier seems to be a risk factor for mild ear infections. However, this is only one of the many factors associated with this pathogenesis. The longer and more frequently you use the pacifier, the bigger chance it has of causing ear infections.
Cavities, overbites and receding gum lines are often the results of pacifier use. Most of the research done on these issues show that these problems occur when there is an excessive (after the child is 5 years old) or inadequate (pacifier dipped in sugar) use of the pacifier. However, a recent study showed a significant difference in the dental arch and the overbite of children who used a pacifier for 24 and 36 months, and those who stopped using it before 12 months. The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) recommends using a pacifier to stop babies from sucking their thumb because it's easier to control a pacifier when you want to reduce the sucking frequency.
Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Studies show a link between the usage of a pacifier and a lower risk of SIDS. Many reasons are given to explain these results. Pacifiers represent a mechanical obstacle for babies who want to roll on their stomach. The suction effect and the pacifier keep the tongue in the front of the mouth and leave the upper respiratory tracks free. A baby with a pacifier moves a lot less during their sleep, which reduces the risk of being smothered by the blankets.
The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends pacifiers as a simple comforting solution when the baby has to go through little painful interventions.
How to put an end to the pacifier?
- Limit the time period for which you allow your child to have a pacifier in their mouth. Give your baby their pacifier during sleep or comfort times and plan on getting rid of it before they reach 12 months old.
- Don’t humiliate or punish your child for not wanting to abandon their pacifier.
- Let your child take part in deciding to abandon their pacifier by letting them choose to give it away or put it under their pillow for the tooth fairy.
- Have a motivation chart to write your child’s progress.
- Congratulate your child when they decide to leave the pacifier behind. Tell them how proud you are to see them grow up.
- Let your child express their feelings when he or she is sad or angry. Give them big hugs to help them get through the situation, they need a new type of comfort after giving up their pacifier.
- If your child asks for their pacifier back (which they probably will), don’t give in. Remind them that the pacifier is gone and that they are a big kid now.