The primary reflex of sucking is one of the survival skills developed by babies from the womb. Newborn babies actually use sucking as one of the ways to find comfort. The truth remains that newborn babies cry a lot and the caregivers cannot help but look for ways to soothe them so as to enjoy some peace and quietness. If you have a baby that cries a lot, check out this post. It gives 15 reasons why babies cry and how to soothe them.
The most common method of soothing babies adopted by most mothers and caregivers is the use of pacifiers. A lot has been said about the use of pacifiers on babies, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Hence, some mothers have made this singular resolve “I don’t want to give my baby a pacifier”
The truth is that proper information is needed for one to make a good decision. Hence, we will look at some benefits and disadvantages of using a pacifier for your baby.
What is a pacifier?
A pacifier can be defined as a nipple-like shaped substance made from latex or silicone used to meet babies sucking needs. Check out different affordable and cute pacifiers on Amazon.
Benefits of using a pacifier for your baby include:
- Calming your crying baby: sucking rate differs from one baby to another. Some babies are happy when they suck often but they cannot be eating all the time else they will overfeed their little tummies. At this point, the pacifier comes in handy to offer extra sucking for the baby.
- Helping your baby fall asleep: most babies fall asleep while nursing on their mothers’ breasts and tend to wake up when they lay them in their cribs. Well, putting a pacifier into your baby’s mouth may enable you to lay the baby in the crib without him waking up. Check out other ways to make your baby fall asleep easily in this post – How to teach a baby to fall asleep alone.
- Serving as a distraction: when a baby is in pain and is crying probably due to medical injection, collection of a blood sample, etc. Slipping a pacifier into the baby’s mouth can soothe him by making him forget the discomfort he is feeling at the moment.
- Reducing your baby’s risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS): according to scientific research, babies who nap or sleep with pacifiers in their mouths are at lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
- Keeping a baby’s ears “open” during air travel: putting a pacifier in the mouth of your baby to suck when traveling by air prevents him from ear pain that comes with air travel. Thinking of traveling with your baby soon, here are 57 tips and tricks that will make air travel easier for you and the baby.
Disadvantages of using a pacifier for your baby include:
- Increasing your baby’s risk for ear infection: it has been discovered by research that when babies suck and swallow, a change in pressure occurs behind their ears. This ultimately may shift fluids into the middle of the ear and bring about infection. The use of pacifiers increases the rate of sucking and swallowing in babies, little wonder some mothers stick to the decision “I don’t want to give my baby a pacifier.”
- Dependency on the pacifier: we feel good with things we like, don’t we? Babies are no exception in this case. This implies that your baby can become addicted to a pacifier to the extent that he wakes up from sleep each time the pacifier falls off his mouth or cry so much if the pacifier falls off his mouth when you go for an outing and you didn’t pack an extra.
- Nipple confusion: Introducing a newborn baby to the pacifier in the early days of birth can bring confusion to the baby as the baby is still trying to adjust to the shape and texture of the breast. This can ultimately interfere with breastfeeding and hence reduce the production of milk in the mother. Remember, the more a baby latch and nurse on the breast the more the milk supply. When a mother says I don’t want to give my baby a pacifier it can be because she or someone close to her has experienced lactation problem that occurs with the baby preferring to suck on the pacifier than on the breast.
- Teeth problems: the continuous use of pacifiers for a long period of time can affect the shape of the mouth and teeth of a baby because the tissues of the gum and jaw are still very tender and can alter in shape.
Advice on the use of pacifier
if you decide it’s necessary for you to give your baby a pacifier, I will advise that you:
- Introduce the pacifier from the fifth week of your baby’s life, by this time the baby would have gotten use to latching and nursing well on the breast.
- Buy one-piece pacifiers to reduce choking hazard for your babies such as the Ryan and Rose Cutie PAT Pacifier Grey Stage 1. It is safe, durable, comfortable, and soothing for babies.
- Ensure to sterilize the pacifier often to keep it germs free.
- Make provision for many identical pacifiers as the pacifiers may get lost more often than you can imagine. The Ryan and Rose Cutie Pacifier comes in different adorable colors.
- Do not put sugar-coated substances on the pacifier to prevent your baby from becoming addicted to sugar.
- Ensure that the strap that comes with the pacifier is not long enough to go round your baby’s neck to avoid strangling.
- Check your baby’s pacifier often to know when it needs replacement as pacifiers deteriorate with use.
Ways of calming your newborn baby
Beside the use of pacifiers, there are other ways you can soothe your crying baby. Some of the ways are:
- Breastfeeding your baby more often. The body to body contact between mother and baby while breastfeeding has a way of soothing your baby. I wrote a detailed post on breastfeeding tips for new moms, it makes breastfeeding fun instead of stressful. Do check it out.
- Moving the baby by rocking him, swinging him, or driving around in a car. The motion has a calming effect on babies.
- Taking a walk and giving the baby an opportunity to see new scenes is a good distraction and it calms the baby down.
- Making the baby more comfortable by swaddling, etc.
The honest answer to the question above ‘is it necessary to give a pacifier to your baby?’ is to actually do what you feel is best for your baby. As a mother, follow your instinct and you won’t go wrong. If you are of the opinion “I don’t want to give my baby a pacifier”, it’s all good and fine. There are some other ways you can soothe and calm your baby without using pacifiers. Take advantage of them and have your baby and yourself ever feeling better and happy.