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Your little baby may seem to be annoyed for many reasons apart from just basic hunger. These unexplained wants of a baby can be soothed with the use of a pacifier. Baby pacifiers impart a sweet taste that makes the sucking experience pleasant and calms a fussing baby down. However, parents are often confused about when to introduce pacifier for infants, when to stop them, and also have other queries concerning the child’s health. These are understandable concerns that will be discussed in the coming sections. Despite the fact that pacifiers make both a baby and the mother’s life easier, there are many things that new parents must be careful about and consider when introducing a binky to the baby.
What is a Pacifier?
A pacifier, also known as a soother, teether or binky is an artificial nipple made of rubber, plastic or silicon. It is supported by a handle that often works like a rattle. In the olden days, such pacifiers carried a spoonful of sugar or any sweet item within the tip of the nipple. As the name suggests, a pacifier pacifies an irritable baby.
What are the Benefits of Pacifier?
Pacifiers can come in extremely handy for new parents. Babies can get really fussy and annoyed on various occasions. The benefits of pacifiers in newborns are immense as it can help calm a baby down. However, one must be careful with the timing of introduction and the use of pacifiers.
Some of the benefits are as follows:
- Prevents Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): Sudden Infant Death Syndrome can scare the wits out of any parent. Use of pacifiers has shown a reduced risk of this issue. As the baby sucks onto a teether at night, it keeps the baby’s brain active and prevents it from stopping to breathe.
- Comforts during troublesome flights: You must have often heard babies on airplanes crying their hearts out. These unexplained screeches could be due to the ear pain caused by a change in pressure. A pacifier induces sucking that stabilizes the ear pressure, enabling you and your baby to go through a pleasant flight and no trouble to co-passengers.
- Satisfies urge to suckle: Some babies have excessive urges for sucking that may not be satisfied by breastfeeding. It may also not be possible for you to offer your breast at all times of the day. The baby pacifier can be quite useful in such moments.
What are the Cons of Pacifier?
Below are some of the side effects of pacifier use:
- Increased risk of ear infections: Sucking onto a pacifier leads to fluid collection in the ears which may increase the risk of ear infections in babies. However, this risk is lower in babies who are under 6 months of age.
- Nipple confusion: This is a major issue that most new mothers are concerned about. When a baby gets habituated to sucking on a pacifier, there is a chance that they may struggle to adjust to sucking from the breast. To avoid this, it is best to establish a regular routine of breastfeeding or nursing your baby. This can then be followed up with an introduction to the binky. It is important to note that once the baby is well adapted to feeding, which happens within 1 month of birth, nipple confusion is a rare possibility.
- Dependence: Some children are so dependent on pacifiers that they are not comfortable without it. The use of a baby pacifier should thus be limited.
- Possible dental troubles: Abnormal shifts in the teeth structure are triggered with high-pressure sucking. This disrupts regular growth and disallows a beautiful dental form from appearing.
Tips for Using a Pacifier
Research has shown that bacteria of the nature of E. Coli can breed on a used baby pacifier. This makes it overly essential to maintain regular cleanliness. There are a few tips you should keep in mind:
- Offer a binky only at nap time. There may have been a couple of times when you’ve offered your little baby her pacifier, just to calm her down in the day. However, it is best to accustom the baby to pacifier use only during sleep times.
- Sterilise your binky. It is best to regularly rinse and clean the pacifier. Also, avoid repeated use of the same pacifier. Try replacing it once every few days. Sterilising the pacifier after use and after it was dropped can be the best way to maintain hygiene. Storing in zip locks, when not in use, is also advised.
- Do not offer a binky when the baby is hungry. You must understand the child’s hunger and feed her accordingly. Offering a pacifier may lead to dependence and decline in the baby’s health. Thereafter, the nursing routine may be affected.
- Do not offer binky to a baby who has not gained sufficient weight. If a baby has not gained the requisite weight, then it indicates a lack of sufficient milk and nutrition. Immediately, the feeding cycle must be looked into and tracked properly.
What to Look for While Buying a Pacifier?
Pacifiers come in all shapes, sizes, and colours. With different nipple sizes and shapes, you can experiment to see what suits best. Pacifiers come in two kinds of material – Latex and Silicon. Latex is softer and more flexible. It easily adjusts to the baby’s mouth. However, it wears off sooner. Silicon, on the other hand, is harder yet sturdier and lasts longer. Some pacifiers have a flap on covers that flap shut when use is discontinued. Some need to be flapped on. One must avoid buying binkies with extra pieces or hard substances attached that may be accidentally swallowed by the baby.
Are Pacifiers Safe for a Baby’s Teeth?
Yes, but one must keep two things in mind.
- Do not put any sweetened substances in the binky. This may trigger cavities or make the baby prone to cavities.
- Prolonged use may cause dental troubles while growing up. If your baby is still addicted to the binky at the age of 3, it is high time you stopped. If pacifiers are used beyond 3 years of age, children may start developing orthodontic issues such as crossbite and crooked teeth.
Does Pacifier Affect Breast Feeding?
There is no single answer to whether a pacifier affects breastfeeding. It entirely depends on how you handle the nursing cycle. It is advisable to not introduce any binky when the milk and feeding cycle has not been established. There are no reports of interference and issues after a month or two of age once the baby is used to a routine. If you delay feedings or use a pacifier when the baby is hungry, the cycle is bound to be affected.
When to Pull the Plug?
Some of the questions about pacifier use that parents normally ask are:
- When to stop pacifier use?
- How to stop pacifier use?
Here are a few quick solutions to your troubles. Most children are known to decline usage beyond 1 year of age, but some children are persistent and may need it longer. Once your baby turns into a toddler, it is essential to pull away this childhood dependence. If the child becomes dependent, weaning baby from a pacifier can become quite a task.
Conclusion: With newborn babies, parents are quick to get anxious and nervous. This is understandable. However, with proper knowledge, it is easier to stay calm and handle any situation wisely. Keep the above guidelines about pacifier use in mind to ensure your baby’s health and comfort.