The top most priority for a parent is to calm their crying baby. Using pacifiers for your baby comes handy. Pacifiers are nipple shaped accessories that satisfy natural sucking reflex and soothes your baby. Pacifier is made up of rubbery or silicone material. Your baby feels secure as it resembles the nipple. They have many benefits too. If you decide to use the pacifier for your baby, it is essential to introduce it at the right age and make sure your baby is weaned off the pacifier at the appropriate time.
Advantages and disadvantages of using pacifiers for your baby:
Below are the advantages of using a pacifier
Pros of using pacifiers for your baby
• Reduces sudden accidents.
• Distracts your baby in case he is fussy.
• It may help to relieve colic.
• Your baby calms down instantly and sleeps.
• It helps during vaccination in case of any pain.
• Sucking on a pacifier helps your baby to get relief from ear pressure during air travel.
• It helps babies with poor sucking capacity.
Cons of using pacifiers for your baby
• Pacifier hinders teething thus affecting dental care.
• You might not know when your baby is hungry if he is sucking on a pacifier.
• May cause some ear infections.
• Pacifier interferes with breastfeeding if given early to your baby as he might get confused between a nipple and pacifier.
• Your baby might become too dependant on the pacifier and may cry if it falls off his mouth, this may cause problems at night.
• Your baby might wean off breastfeeding early if he uses a pacifier.
• Your baby might develop latex allergy.
When to use a pacifier for your baby?
Ideally, when your baby is a month old or as per your discretion, you can give it to him. Pacifiers can be used till the mother’s milk supply is well established and the baby is comfortable with breastfeeding.
If he suckles a lot, it is a cue that he needs a pacifier. Babies adapt to pacifier easily if they are bottle fed. If your baby is crying even after being fed and wants to sleep, pacifier comes in handy here.
Discontinuing the use of a pacifier for your baby
It is ideal to stop the use of a pacifier by 6 months. Babies normally stop using it by 2-4 years. It may be due to pressure from parents or they are able to soothe themselves without it as they grow up. Some babies find it hard to discontinue the use of a pacifier. They need help.
You can try the following methods to help wean off a pacifier:
• Distract the baby in case he gets cranky and cries for the pacifier.
• Gradually, reduce pacifier time rather than drastically pulling it off. Slowly, your baby will get used to it.
• If your baby needs a pacifier while sleeping, try some other methods to make him sleep like swaddling him, giving him a nice warm massage or bath him before bedtime. Rocking and swinging also help your baby sleep.
• If your baby is 2 years or more, he will be able to understand better. You could hide the pacifier and tell him a story instead, about the missing pacifier, making him believe that it is gone for good.
• Though it might not be liked by your baby, you could apply an unpleasant taste like bitter gourd juice to the nipple so that your baby rejects the pacifier.
Tips for using a pacifier for your baby
• Give the pacifier to your baby after you feed him. This ensures he sleeps without feeling hungry again.
• Clean the pacifier completely, with a little bit of soap solution and warm water before giving it to him.
• Do not force your baby to use the pacifier. If he resists it, leave it.
• Go for silicone pacifiers than latex ones.
• If your baby falls asleep with the pacifier in mouth, do not pull it out or do not put it back in if it falls off while he sleeps.
• Use only plain pacifiers and do not add any flavors to it.
• Babies with facial anomalies should not be given a pacifier.
• If your baby is not gaining weight properly, do not use a pacifier.
• Do not use a pacifier for long periods of time. Dispose it off even if it is in good shape after it has been used for a long time.
• Use a pacifier that is BPA free.
• Pick a pacifier that has ventilated holes so that air can be let in.
• Get the right size of a pacifier for your baby so that it fits his mouth.
• If your baby has siblings, ensure that pacifier is not shared.
• Do not tie the pacifier to any cord as it may strangle your baby.
• Consult your baby’s pediatrician if he continues to use the pacifier after he turns 4 years.
You are the best judge for your baby and know what’s best for him. After weighing the pros and cons, you can decide whether to buy the pacifier or not.