Holding a baby can be one of the most satisfying experiences. For new parents, comforting their baby is the highest priority, but this might become challenging for them if the baby is restless or won’t stop crying.
In such cases, using a pacifier can be very helpful in keeping the baby calm and comfortable.
Soothing the baby
Babies are born with a strong sucking reflex, to help with their nutrition and to keep them comforted. Even after a full tummy, the baby may feel this desire to suck. Using a pacifier in this case has a calming effect, as it satisfies its need perfectly. It also allows them to self-soothe, i.e. help them learn how to control their own feelings and make them feel secure. A calmer baby means calmer parents, and the pacifier makes that happen.
Reduced risks of thumb-sucking
Babies can often quite easily develop a habit of sucking their thumbs, which can be very difficult for parents to get rid of. Using a pacifier early on prevents this habit from developing, as it satisfies their reflex to suck. With the additional soothing pacifiers provide, it is preferable to have babies use them instead.
Lowered risk of SIDS
Possibly the most heartbreaking thing any parent can experience is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Studies have shown that using pacifiers can significantly reduce the risk if SIDS, particularly when placed to sleep. Theories suggest that giving babies pacifiers before they go to sleep lets them stay conscious while sleeping, and the head is also kept elevated from the bed, minimising the risk of suffocation.
Not so pacifying?
While pacifiers certainly come with some advantages, there are also a few concerns regarding their usage.
Researchers have found that sucking results in an increase in fluid in the ears, and thus it is recommended that pacifiers be given only for short periods such as naps. In fact, 25% of ear infections in children under the age of three have been attributed to the excessive usage of pacifiers, and so they shouldn’t be used too frequently.
Moreover, pacifiers can also cause dental problem, causing the baby’s top or bottom front teeth to slant or tilt. Some babies may also develop crossbite.
In addition to this, using pacifiers can also cause nipple confusion. This interferes with breastfeeding as the baby starts preferring the pacifier over nipples, and this can disrupt the nursing process and nutrition intake.
Mothers may overuse pacifiers if breastfeeding gets too exhausting for them. To avoid this, they should instead use a baby formula to ensure their baby’s wellbeing.