Using a Pacifier
The decision to use a pacifier is a personal one and one that is often debated among parents and doctors. Ultimately the decision to use one or not comes down to you.
Some paediatricians recommend using a pacifier when your baby is under the age of one only. As your baby gets close to her first birthday it may be time to break the habit.
The following pros and cons of using a pacifier will help you decide what’s right for you and your baby.
Con: Pacifiers Lead to Lazy Suckling
Using a pacifier can have a negative impact on breastfeeding your baby. Pacifiers are easy to suck on and don’t require much effort for your baby to get the feeling of suckling.
Suckling on your nipple means more work for your baby. She may lose interest in your nipple a lot sooner than if you avoided giving her the pacifier in the first place.
If you plan on nursing long-term then you should limit how much you offer your baby a pacifier.
Con: Becoming Attached to a Pacifier
One of the biggest problems with giving your baby a pacifier is that she can quickly become attached to it.
This can be a hard habit to break, especially if your baby turns into a toddler and is still relying on her pacifier to soothe her. Pacifiers can also become a bad habit for parents.
If you pop the pacifier into your baby’s mouth the minute she starts to fuss you’ll never get to know the real reasons behind her fussing and crying, such a tummy ache or that she misses you.
In the long run, using a pacifier can often mean less sleep for both baby and parents. Babies who learn to fall asleep with their pacifier in their mouth will often wake up when it falls out.
Rather than learning to soothe themselves to sleep again, they count on you to put the pacifier back where they want it.
Pro: Preventing SIDS
A lot of research has been done linking a decrease in SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) with the use of a pacifier.
One reason for this connection is that babies who suck on a pacifier may open up an air space around their mouth and nose which can help them get more oxygen.
Another reason is that babies who suck on a pacifier may not sleep as deeply as other babies, making them less susceptible to SIDS.
Paediatricians recommend that pacifiers be used for babies under the age of one year both at naptime and at bedtime.
Pro: Helping to Soothe Your Baby
Babies have a naturally strong sucking reflex. They suck on their fingers and thumbs even before they’re born.
Not only does your baby need to suckle in order to drink milk, she’ll suck to calm and soothe herself.
While you want to be the one to soothe your baby and make her happy there are going to be times when you’re not going to be able to accomplish this. This is where a pacifier can come in handy.
A pacifier can provide your baby with a temporary distraction when you just can’t calm her down, such as when you’re at the doctor or if she is one of those babies who cry when her diaper is changed.
There may be times when your baby has nursed but she just wants to keep on sucking because it makes her feel calm and safe.
If your nipples are just too sore to let her keep sucking, a pacifier can give you a break and still let your baby suckle to her heart’s content.
Using a pacifier or not is a decision that is entirely up to you. While some parents swear by them, others choose to tough it out and not get the pacifier habit started in the first place.
Tips for Using a Pacifier
If you decide that you want to use a pacifier with your baby there are some things to keep in mind.
Try to wait until breastfeeding is going well for both you and your baby before you offer her a pacifier. You want to be sure that she has the hang of taking your nipple into her mouth before you offer her something that is artificial.
Many paediatricians recommend waiting until four to six weeks after your baby has been born before you start using a pacifier.
Don’t get into the habit of offering your baby the pacifier the minute that she starts to fuss. Try other things to get her to calm down first such as rocking her or allowing her to nurse.
Never let your baby use a pacifier all day. She needs to find other ways to soothe herself. If your baby falls asleep with the pacifier in her mouth and it falls out, then leave it out.
The more you offer the pacifier that more your baby is going to start to rely on it.