A pacifier is a rubber, plastic or silicone nipple given to an infant to suck upon. When an infant is nursing or sucking on a pacifier, it can help reduce pain. Using a pacifier or staying away from it can be a bit of a debate. And so is every other topic when it comes to our little one. But this one has a lot of controversy about it.
It has been reported in several studies that pacifier use reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Although sucking a pacifier might help soothe a fussy baby, there are heavier drawbacks to it. The most important risks of this non-nutritive sucking habit are failure of breastfeeding, dental deformities, recurrent infections, and the possibility of accidents. The development of latex allergy, tooth decay, oral ulcers and sleep disorders are other problems encountered with pacifier use.
Babies who use pacifiers are twice as likely to get ear infections than the ones who don’t. In fact, prolonged use of pacifiers can cause the auditory tubes to become abnormally open. These tubes are the passage that allows secretions to seep from the throat to the middle ear.
Pacifiers can also cause oral infections. Due to constant oral contact, the bacteria on the pacifier can easily enter the baby’s mouth which can lead to any kind of infection. Therefore, it is essential to sterilize the pacifier each time before using it. Boiling is an effective disinfection method that can be used to make pacifiers safer for oral contact.
Pacifiers are very likely to disturb the breastfeeding patterns in infants. Breastfeeding is a natural process, but it may take a while for you or your baby to get the hang of it. It's advised that you delay introducing a pacifier until breastfeeding is well set. Consistent use of pacifiers might lead to reduced duration of breastfeeding. This will lead to the infant not being satiated but he might feel that sucking on the pacifier will do the job. A reduced breastfeeding duration will also hamper the bonding between the mother and child which is an integral part of the emotional growth of the infant.
Perpetual use of a pacifier affects the formation of the teeth so that they don’t meet properly, especially when used in children after the 2-year mark. It can also lead the teeth to slant or tilt. Also, the continuous use of a pacifier can develop a habit of thumb sucking as soon as the breastfeeding and pacifier use stops.
While a pacifier might help your baby to calm down and sleep along with being a tool of distraction, it might have some effects which are harmful in the long run. Hence, it is in the best interest of the baby to avoid the use of a pacifier.
If absolutely necessary, some key points should be kept in mind while choosing and using the pacifier for your little one: -
- The pacifier should be available as a single piece.
- It should be sterilized before and after every single use.
- Never hang the pacifier on a string around the baby’s neck.
- Replace the pacifier as soon as it becomes damaged or the surface starts cracking.
Stay Tuned, Stay Relevant!