Giving your baby a pacifier

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The great pacifier debate; to use a pacifier, or not? Consider the pros and cons of giving your baby a pacifier, and how to help him or her break the habit.

 

The pros:

  • A pacifier might soothe a fussy baby. Some babies are happiest when they're sucking on something.
  • A pacifier offers temporary distraction. A pacifier might come in handy during shots, blood tests or other procedures.
  • A pacifier might help your baby fall asleep. If your baby has trouble settling down, a pacifier might do the trick.
  • A pacifier might ease discomfort during flights. Babies can't intentionally "pop" their ears by swallowing or yawning to relieve ear pain caused by air pressure changes. Sucking on a pacifier might help.
  • Pacifiers might help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Researchers have found an association between pacifier use during sleep and a reduced risk of SIDS.

The cons:

  • Nipple confusion. Sucking on a breast is different from sucking on a pacifier or bottle, and some babies are sensitive to those differences and might cause nipple confusion
  • Your baby might become dependent on the pacifier. If your baby uses a pacifier to sleep, you might face frequent middle-of-the-night crying spells when the pacifier falls out of your baby's mouth.
  • Increased risk of middle ear infections. Middle ear infections are lowest from birth to age 6 months.
  • Prolonged pacifier use might lead to dental problems. Normal pacifier use during the first few years of life doesn't cause long-term dental problems. However, prolonged pacifier use might cause may change their tooth alignment or delay speech.

Precautions:

  • Never put the pacifier on a cord around baby's neck to reduce the risk of strangulation.
  • Look for a pacifier with ventilation holes. The holes permit air passage.
  • Look for pacifiers with symmetrical nipples, which help the pacifiers stay in the right sucking position.
  • Don't share a pacifier between children, and don't clean a dropped one with your own mouth.
  • Don't dip a pacifier in something sweet before giving it to your baby.

If you decide your baby should have a pacifier, make sure to buy one that states the same age on the label as your child's age.

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