Babies are born with a natural need to suck; Newborns rely on this “suck reflex” not only for nourishment but also for soothing. Babies have no other mechanism to control their distress; they can’t get a drink or ask for a blanket; they can’t use their hands to control things. Sucking provides a way to calm themselves. That is one of the reasons most babies start using their mothers as a pacifier. In such cases, a pacifier can help satisfy a baby’s non-nutritive sucking needs while giving Mom a much-needed break.
On some days, your baby gets fussy and does not calm down even after trying many things like a stroller walk, gentle rocking in your arms, and singing, but nothing seems to be working – but a little soother works wonders at that time.
When I was pregnant, I decided I wouldn’t introduce my child with a pacifier because I had heard a lot of myths about pacifiers, especially here in Indian. They are considered nasty. With the same perception in mind, I thought, if I never give it to my baby, then I never have to take it away, right? Well then came the baby… only wanting to suck and suck and suck! haha. He started using me as a pacifier, especially at nights, he did not spare me, the moment I unlatched him he would wake up and then again try to latch himself to me. My nipples were killing me, and I was sleep-deprived.
Finally, after four months, with my instincts and no other option left, I introduced a pacifier to my baby. I found it as a blessing in the first period, and He became a binky baby the second his latch was established. They are a life (and sleep) saver for the extreme suckers! But I was still wondering when I should wean my baby off.
Yes, a pacifier does have some advantages but comes with disadvantages also. We as a parent must use this little soother very wisely so that this does not become a disadvantage for you and your child because you would never want anything to harm your baby, especially one that you introduced in their life for your convenience. Always keep in mind that you introduce a pacifier at the right time in a proper way and take it away promptly, so that’s a win-win situation for you and your child.
WHEN TO INTRODUCE A PACIFIER?
If you are breastfeeding your baby, don’t introduce the pacifier right away, as this can cause confusion for the baby and make breastfeeding difficult. Wait until breastfeeding is going well, and your milk supply has been established. This would be around 3 to 4 weeks after the baby is born because after a month old, your baby should be well accustomed to latching on and breastfeeding.
USE A PACIFIER WISELY
Try other ways to calm your baby first. When trying to calm your baby, try other methods first. This includes rocking, singing, or holding. Offer the pacifier last.
Remember: Only use of a pacifier is to soothe – never use it as a means to push off or ignore feeding.
Don’t put back in mouth: When your baby is asleep and If the pacifier falls out at night and your baby doesn’t notice, don’t put it back in. Lots of parents do it so that their sleep is not disturbed but always remember it’s not healthy for your child.
Engage in pacifier-free play. Pacifiers can slow down the learning that happens during play. Make time to engage your child’s imagination using visual or auditory games and activities with sounds and facial expressions, but without a pacifier in the baby’s mouth.
Check before you offer a binky. If the baby looks upset, Check to see if your baby is hungry or needs a diaper change before you offer a pacifier.
Follow a timeline for taking it away. As your baby grows, try and gradually decrease the use of a pacifier so that when your baby turns one, she only uses it for sleeping. Around 18 months, either stop the pacifier altogether or keep the use only when sleeping so that by the time the baby turns 2, your baby is totally pacifier free.
Pros and Cons of a Pacifier
Introducing your baby a pacifier or no pacifier, is entirely up to your own choice, if you can avoid it well that is great but if you have decided to give your baby a pacifier then just keep a few things in mind so that this BLESSING does not become a CURSE.
Pros of using a pacifier
1. Reduces The Risk Of SIDS.
Pacifier use during naps or bedtime can prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). During sleep, the baby may suffocate due to excess bedding or when in an incorrect sleeping position. Use of a pacifier reduces the chances of SIDS as it helps open airways wider and lets the infant breathe better.
2. Satisfies Baby’s Sucking Reflex.
Babies have a natural need to suck. This skill is so essential that babies start practicing long before birth! The bottle or breast usually meets this need, but the desire can linger even after the belly is full. A pacifier can help. Just be sure it doesn’t replace mealtime.
3. Helps Soothe a Crying Baby.
Pacifiers can help babies learn to control their feelings, relax them, and make them feel calm and secure. It’s a double win for parents as well because a calmer baby means more relaxed parents.
4. Helps During Air Travel.
Parents greatly fear traveling by air with their baby as the sudden changes in air pressure during flight can make the little one’s ears go pop. Sucking a pacifier might help in keeping the baby’s mouth engaged with the sucking reflex, which normalizes the air pressure in the ear.
5. Helps Mother To Stop Breastfeeding:
Once a mother is ready to stop breastfeeding, then a pacifier might help them ending the breast sucking habit. Most mothers stop breastfeeding by a year. If your baby is already in the habit of sucking a pacifier, then you can easily replace your breast with a pacifier to a well-fed baby.
6. Offers Temporary Distraction:
A pacifier might come in handy during unpleasant situations like after shots, blood tests, or other procedures as it helps to calm a baby and acts like a pain reliever.
Cons of using a pacifier
1. Early Pacifier Use Might Inhibit With Breastfeeding.
Introducing a pacifier within the first month can lead to nipple confusion, where the infant is confused between the nipple of a breast and pacifier, due to which a baby might not be able to suck the breast properly. Give pacifiers only once breastfeeding is well established.
2. Baby Might Become dependent on the Binky.
Remember, you gave your baby a binky so that you could have a good sleep, but If your baby uses a pacifier to sleep, then you might face many night cryings when the pacifier falls out of your baby’s mouth. As a result, you end up creating another problem while solving one.
3. Increase The Risk Of Acute Otitis Media/ Middle Ear Infections.
The constant sucking action associated with Pacifier appears to be a risk factor for recurrent AOM (Acute otitis media)
4. Extended Use Might Lead To Dental Problems.
Long-term pacifier usage can affect the baby’s dental health. Those who use pacifiers beyond the age of three or four years display adverse effects like misalignment of teeth or not come incorrectly.
5. Can Cause Tonsillitis In Babies.
The porous rubber top of the pacifier is likely to grow bacteria from the inside out. Even after washing and boiling a pacifier, these bacterias build resistance and continue to harbor and grow. The germs harbored on the pacifier can cause tonsillitis/ sore throat in your baby. Surprisingly, the life expectancy of a pacifier is only a few weeks.
Pacifiers are entirely appropriate for soothing a Baby. Still, it is recommended to limit pacifier time once a child is two and eliminate it by age 3 or 4 to avoid dental problems. You and your partner will know your child best. Together, you can decide if using a pacifier is right for your situation and your baby. You can also consult your baby’s doctor to help you make that decision.
Do share your experiences on using a pacifier for your child. Did you find it helpful, or do you regret introducing a pacifier to your child? Your views are most welcome and would also help new mothers to decide on the same. Comment below!