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    Parents guide

    Home ›› The pacifier: pros and cons of pacifier use
    Home ›› The pacifier: pros and cons of pacifier use

    What are the pros and cons of using a pacifier?

     

    5 min. read

     

    It’s the question that’s on every new parent’s lips: ‘are pacifiers bad?’. From your neighbor to your doctor, and from your mom to your favorite blog, you’ve probably heard countless opinions on pacifier use. That’s why it’s time to cut through the noise and answer the really important questions: from ‘can baby fall asleep with a pacifier’ to ‘does a pacifier affect teeth?’.

     

    You know better than anyone what’s right for your baby, but you can never be too informed. Here we’ll help equip you with all the essential facts, so you can make a decision on pacifier use with confidence.

    What is a pacifier?

     

    Let’s go back to basics: what is a pacifier? A pacifier is usually a silicone nipple given to an infant or young child to suck upon. The standard pacifier has a nipple, a mouth shield, and a handle. The mouth shield and handle are there to prevent the child from choking or swallowing it.

     

    Why do many babies even use a pacifier to begin with? A pacifier’s primary purpose comes down to the fact that newborns are born with an instinct to suck. Whether they are bored, tired, or needing comfort, this sucking instinct is separate from their need to eat. Some babies prefer to suck on their thumbs or fingers, and others prefer pacifiers.

    A pacifier’s effect on baby

     

    A pacifier provides a very calming, soothing effect on your baby. Below are some reasons behind newborn pacifier use:

     

    • Help your baby fall asleep
    • Calm your frightened baby
    • Aid in digestion

     

    As you can see, these reasons all have one commonality: they keep your baby calm by satisfying their innate need to suckle.

    Pacifier pros and cons

     

    Whether you choose to give your baby a pacifier or to suck on one of his or her fingers, let’s have a look at the pacifier pros and cons.

    Benefits of a pacifier

     

    The following are some of the benefits of giving your baby a pacifier:

     

    1. Satisfies the suck reflex

    The first benefit of a pacifier is that it meets a baby’s need to suckle. While the breast or bottle can usually satisfy this need, pacifiers can help to soothe your baby in-between feeding sessions. But keep in mind that pacifiers are not to be used as a replacement or to delay meal times.

     

    2. Encourages baby to self-soothe

    Another benefit of pacifier use is that it can encourage your baby to self-soothe when he or she is crying or upset.

     

    3. Soothes your baby during painful procedures

    If your baby is due for a vaccination or for blood to be drawn, a pacifier is great way to reduce the pain and keep your baby calm at the doctor’s office.

     

    4. Helps baby fall asleep

    Parents often ask ‘can baby fall sleep with pacifier?’. The pacifier can definitely be used when helping your baby to fall asleep, right before nap time, or after a feed; most babies find sucking soothing. Stay close to your baby while the pacifier works its magic. Remember – never leave your baby with their pacifier unsupervised.

     

    5. You can monitor your baby’s use

    Unlike thumb sucking, you can monitor when your baby uses a pacifier. This gives you the ability to limit use or take it away at your disposal. It also makes breaking the habit easier when the time comes.

    Cons of pacifier use

     

    Like most things in life, there are some potential downsides of pacifier use. Here are some reasons why you might opt not to give your baby a pacifier:

     

    1. Nipple confusion

    While ‘nipple confusion’ is a concern for many parents, there is no real scientific evidence that supports this. It is however recommended that you wait until your baby is breastfeeding well before offering a pacifier, which is usually around three to four weeks of age.

     

    2. Easily dropped

    Pacifiers tend to be easily dropped or spit out onto the floor, which calls for proper cleaning before putting back into your newborn’s mouth. If you do decide to use a pacifier, make sure that you are armed with the proper cleaning equipment while on the go.

     

    3. Limited supply

    What do you get when a newborn is accustomed to her pacifier and loses it? A not so happy newborn. If you are going to rely on pacifiers to meet your baby’s sucking needs, ensure that you travel with a backup supply in the event that your baby loses it.

     

    4. Problems with your child’s teeth

    Perhaps one of the most common concerns among new mothers contemplating using a pacifier or not: the pacifier’s effect on teeth. It is true that improper or prolonged use of a pacifier can lead to dental problems1, including teeth alignment issues. Ensure that you choose a pacifier designed to help healthy oral development such as Philips Avent Orthodontic Pacifiers.

    What you need

    Philips Avent

    ultra air pacifier 0-6m, 2 pack

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    Avent
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      Philips Avent ultra air pacifier 0-6m, 2 pack

      SCF344/20

      A light, breathable pacifier for sensitive skin

      Let your little one's skin breathe with the Philips Avent ultra air pacifier. Featuring 4 extra-large air holes, the lightweight shield is designed for maximum air flow so your baby's sensitive skin stays drier while soothing. See all benefits

      Philips shop price
      Suggested retail price: $5.99

      A light, breathable pacifier for sensitive skin

      Let your little one's skin breathe with the Philips Avent ultra air pacifier. Featuring 4 extra-large air holes, the lightweight shield is designed for maximum air flow so your baby's sensitive skin stays drier while soothing. See all benefits

    • A light, breathable pacifier for sensitive skin

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    A light, breathable pacifier for sensitive skin

    Let your little one's skin breathe with the Philips Avent ultra air pacifier. Featuring 4 extra-large air holes, the lightweight shield is designed for maximum air flow so your baby's sensitive skin stays drier while soothing. See all benefits

    Philips shop price
    Suggested retail price: $5.99

    A light, breathable pacifier for sensitive skin

    Let your little one's skin breathe with the Philips Avent ultra air pacifier. Featuring 4 extra-large air holes, the lightweight shield is designed for maximum air flow so your baby's sensitive skin stays drier while soothing. See all benefits

    To use a pacifier or not to use a pacifier…

     

    So, are pacifiers bad? There are many parents who choose to use pacifiers for their newborns, as they do boast many positive advantages. If you find that the pacifier option is for you, discover when and how to properly introduce a pacifier to your baby.

     

    And if your baby is going to use a pacifier, you will want to ensure that it is the right pacifier. Explore the different options available and make sure you adapt them to your baby’s development.

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    1 US National Library of Medicine - Recommendations for the use of pacifiers