New mothers get all kinds of conflicting advice and often find themselves asking, "Are pacifiers good or bad?" Should you use a pacifier with your baby or not?
Why People Use Pacifiers
A couple of reasons for differing opinions among parents regarding pacifier use is the fact that not every baby is the same and not everyone's parenting example is identical. On a personal level, a mother who has a baby that sleeps through the night within the first month would most likely have a different opinion than the mother who has a colicky infant. Others may use a pacifier because their mother used one. The bottom line is that those who use a pacifier do so to "pacify" their baby or toddler.
This insight touches only the tip of the issue over whether or not to use a pacifier. Here are a few other aspects that fuel the debate:
Arguments For Using Pacifiers
- Pacifiers and SIDS-Some people buy pacifiers because they believe that using a pacifier decreases the chance of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). This is typically because babies who are given a pacifier when falling asleep don't sleep as deeply as babies who do not use a pacifier.
- Better than sucking thumb-Some sonograms show babies sucking their thumb in the womb. The need to suckle is stronger in some infants than others. One more reason parents may choose to use a pacifier is to prevent a thumb sucking habit; however, that argument is open to more debate.
- Pacifiers for premature babies-Hospitals suggest that premature babies who are given pacifiers seem to grow better.
- Pacifiers are stress relievers-Professionals also consider the pacifier to be a transitional object. As such they are believed to aid children in releasing stress when adjusting to new situations.
Arguments Against the Use of Pacifiers
There are people who point to the problem of "nipple confusion" when a nursing baby is given a pacifier. This problem does arise for some nursing babies who are given bottles or pacifiers but it is not an across the board problem for all babies.
Are Pacifiers Good or Bad: Conflicting Information
- Pacifiers and ear infections- Web MD suggests that the use of pacifiers leads to ear infections and that limiting use to only when the baby is falling asleep can greatly reduce chances of an infection.
- Pacifiers may lead to braces-While some parents use a pacifier to stop thumb sucking, the study sited above also shows that prolonged use of a pacifier can lead to the same problems as thumb sucking. These problems include:
- Improper growth of the mouth
- Misalignment of teeth
- Changes in the shape of the roof of the mouth
All this brings us back to the question: Are pacifiers good or bad? With conflicting information, it comes down to a matter of choice on the parents' part. Some pediatricians are against them, and others recommend them. To help you make up your mind, here are a few more facts to take into consideration:
- Breastfeeding is the most effective way to soothe and calm infants.
- Pacifiers are effective in quieting crying babies and toddlers.
- Pacifiers help babies fall asleep and stay asleep.
- Pacifiers contribute to poor hygiene as they are reused without cleaning.
The bottom line is that a pacifier should be used to satisfy a baby's need to suck. When compared to thumb sucking, one benefit is that a pacifier can eventually be taken away from the child. However, a pacifier can also train a baby to think that crying is unacceptable behavior which is the infant's main form of communication. If you do decide to use a pacifier, be careful not to overuse it. It may limit your baby's communication when a need should be addressed.
Keep the Pacifier Clean
If you do decide to use a pacifier, it's important to keep it clean. For infants, pacifier care should include daily cleaning in boiling water, or it can be cleaned by running them through the dishwasher. Once your baby is six-months-old, the pacifier can be washed each day in warm, soapy water and rinsed well.