Baby, Mother, Parenthood, Toddlers

The Pacifier Debate – Where Do You Stand?

Choosing whether or not to give your baby a pacifier (also knows as a dummy, binky or soother) is a very personal choice and one that should only be made by the parents or guardians of any particular baby. There are pros and cons to both choices.

In the early days many medical professionals will not encourage the use of a pacifier due to “nipple confusion” associated with breastfeeding. Despite being a natural process “it may take some time for you and your baby to get the hang of it” (www.webmd.com). Giving your infant a pacifier may cause issues with when “the milk comes in”. You do not want to create a scenario where your baby has a preference for the pacifier rather than the nipple. It is recommended that you embrace a “good nursing pattern” before introducing your baby to a pacifier.

On the other hand a baby does have a natural preference to “suck”. A pacifier can be a temporary comfort to a baby who is soothed by a sucking motion despite not necessarily being hungry. It is important to note that this sucking motion is essential for stimulating your breast milk supply as well as helping your baby to learn how to comfortably feed from the breast.

_BB10329Many parents develop concerns about long-term use of a pacifier. Before the age of two any changes in teeth development will usually correct themselves, however pacifier use after the age of four can cause “major long-lasting effects on adult teeth” according to www.webmd.com

Another issue can be the mammoth task of weaning your child from the pacifier. They will have grown to become dependent on it for comfort. Taking it away can cause a lot of upset and upheaval for your little one. Some babies adjust within a couple of days (sometimes aided by Santa Claus or some kind of Fairy taking it away in an exciting ritual) and others will take longer. It is a crutch we will have given the child ourselves and therefore the upset caused by taking it away can be traumatic for everyone involved.

Those who do chose to give their infant a pacifier will speak about the unmistakable comfort that it affords their baby. It can help them to settle, calm them down when they are upset or having a tantrum, and when used at nap or sleep times can be a really effective sleep-association which ultimately helps them to sleep better. On the other hand those same parents may be unhappy to hear their two year old try to mumble words while clamping a pacifier in their mouth at the same time.

There is no right or wrong answer. Giving your baby a pacifier has both pros and cons. It is a matter of personal choice. Dr Sears' advice is that if you do decide to use a pacifier ensure that it is a safe and trusted brand and then “use it, don't abuse it, and quickly try to lose it”.