Once the baby starts wailing out loud, people around will confuse the mother with suggestions that she should give pacifier to the baby, whereas others would suggest that it would be completely wrong to do so. The new mother, who is just getting adjusted to the most important role of her life, will not know who she should listen to.
One of the biggest worry about giving pacifier will be about breaking the habit later when the baby should not be using pacifier. What is the right time to introduce it, when should the baby be weaned off the habit and how long can the baby suck on pacifier, all these questions trouble parents.
Let us check out the pros and cons as well as some dos and don’ts about the baby’s early friend –the pacifier.
When is it safe to give pacifier to baby
When the mother starts breast feeding the baby, the milk flow is not very free. The more the baby sucks for milk, the more freely the milk flows. It is highly recommended that babies should not be given pacifiers during the first month, so that the breast milk becomes sufficient for the baby, since the sucking would be stimulating the breast to secrete more milk.
The baby needs the extra milk to meet the nutritional need of the first growth spurt which shows up around 6th week. Once the breast milk feeding pattern gets set, you can introduce your baby to the pacifier, but decision will be completely up to you.
New born babies have strong sucking reflex. Babies begin sucking on thumb even before they are born. The sucking reflex begins around the 32nd week of pregnancy and will be fully developed around 36 weeks.
Pacifiers meet the need of the baby to suck, thus calming down the baby. A fussy crying baby will suddenly become calm and pacified when he/she is allowed to suck on a pacifier. Hence, this becomes a must have for many parents who are at loss when their baby starts crying.
Some babies have trouble sleeping on their own. A pacifier would help them settle down peacefully. In addition it would help the baby to self soothe him/herself which may be helpful development in later years.
They can be used to distract the baby after shots, during pairing of nails etc
Pacifiers are known to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Finally, we all know it is easy to stop usage of pacifier than the thumb, because the pacifier can be put out of reach of child.
What are the cons
If the caretaker is not aware of the right use of pacifier, it can cause problems with breastfeeding of baby, cause cavities or overbite of and possibly ear infections in some cases.
It has been noticed that early introduction to pacifier may interfere with breastfeeding the baby. The reason could be the difference in sucking pattern to which the baby may be sensitive to. Mothers, when exhausted, tend to postpone breast feeding by giving pacifier to the baby, which may further cause breast feeding and nutritional problems in the baby.
It would be a relief for the parents to watch the baby falling off to sleep peacefully sucking on the pacifier. Unfortunately, too much of dependency on the pacifier may lead to frantic waking up cries when the pacifier falls off in the middle of sleep.
If babies are not weaned off pacifier at the right time, it can cause dental problems like cavities or overbite. If the child continues to suck on pacifier even after the 2-year of age, there are chances that the top or bottom front teeth may slant or tilt.
Various research and statistics show that babies who use pacifiers are almost twice as likely to get multiple ear infections as babies who don’t.
Like everything else, when used in an appropriate way and sparingly, pacifiers can be helpful for parents to keep their baby calm and peaceful. Keep in mind that the baby’s need to suck is not for the artificial nipple, but for the nutritional need of its growing body. Be wise and encourage breastfeeding in your baby, and use pacifiers only when you feel it is needed.