While some parents are against the use of pacifiers (soothers), others deem them absolute essentials. Should you give a pacifier to your baby? According to the Canadian Paediatric Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics, having recourse to a pacifier is entirely acceptable.
All babies are born wanting to suck and some even suck their thumb or fingers while in their mother’s womb. Using a pacifier can have many advantages. A pacifier can help calm a fussy baby by providing comfort; it can serve as a temporary distraction while you get ready to feed your baby; and it can also help some babies fall asleep. According to the latest medical research, there is also a link between the use of a pacifier and a decrease in the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or crib death. Another advantage, you can get rid of a pacifier! Something that is entirely impossible when it comes to stopping a child from sucking his or her thumb!
Obviously, using a pacifier also has its disadvantages. For example, it can interfere with breastfeeding if it is introduced before a baby has learned to nurse properly. Some babies become “dependent”, particularly if they get used to falling asleep with a pacifier. Many parents are awakened numerous times throughout the night when their baby’s pacifier has fallen out and they want it back. Finally, prolonged use of a pacifier, beyond the first two years of life, can lead to dental problems.
Generally, using a pacifier is acceptable. However, you should follow these cautionary rules: 1. Give your baby the choice. Never force your baby to take a pacifier! While some babies want nothing to do with pacifiers, others quickly become enamoured; 2. Wash pacifiers every day in hot, soapy water, and discard those that are chewed or that have been used for two months; 3. Never attempt to clean a pacifier by putting it in your mouth, you will only pass along your germs; 4. If you are breastfeeding, wait until your baby is comfortable with nursing before introducing a pacifier; 5. Never tie a pacifier around your baby’s neck as this may lead to strangulation and death; 6. Do not clip pacifiers to your baby’s clothes unless you use special pacifier clips that are sold where you purchase pacifiers, because their ribbons are short and do not pose risks of strangulation; 7. Never attempt to make your own pacifier with bottle nipples or other materials as this may cause choking and even death; 8. Never dip a pacifier in sugar or honey as this will only damage your baby’s teeth. Furthermore, honey can potentially cause botulism, a type of food poisoning that can lead to very serious health complications.
Your decision of using a pacifier, or not, should be based on your baby’s preference. If your baby screams for it, give in! Your baby spits it out? They do not want it, so do not cajole them into taking it! Both options have advantages and disadvantages. But in the end, only you know what is best for your little one. The choice is up to you!