We can all agree (babies too) that sucking is something babies love as it’s their primary form of finding comfort. But should you give your baby a pacifier to comfort them? This is a question many moms ask and while there are pros and cons to pacifier use (as with most newborn related things), I am here to help you make a more informed decision.
When I was pregnant with my first baby many people told me not to give a pacifier because it would ruin the baby’s teeth. So, with that stuck in my head, I decided to buy one pacifier and use it only for emergencies like in the car or when traveling. My first two children hardly used the pacifier because I limited the use and also because they didn't like it. They would keep pushing it out whenever I put the pacifier in their mouth so I got rid of it completely within the first six months. But let's face it, when you have multiple kids and you're a mompreneur working from home, you'd pretty much do anything to soothe your baby. So when I was pregnant with my 3rd baby I decided that I might need one (for my own sanity) and after doing some research, I decided to go for it. So, here’s all the information that helped me decide and I hope it will ease your anxiousness as well on whether you made the right decision.
Pros and Cons of Pacifiers
Let’s start with the pros of your baby using a pacifier:
- A pacifier can save your baby’s life. I don’t know about you but I was terrified of the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS); research has shown that pacifier use decreases the risk of SIDS.
- A pacifier is an instant distraction from a stressful situation. I can’t tell you the number of times the pacifier has come to my rescue in soothing my babies, from car rides to hospital visits for vaccines to even flights. With the first two kids, I only used the pacifier for these situations.
- A pacifier helps the baby self-soothe. I recall several instances when I'd give my baby the pacifier after feeding and leave him a few minutes and come back to a sleeping baby. I would then take the pacifier out.
Now here are the cons:
- Your baby may get attached to it. It is a tough habit to break, but so is getting rid of the bottle and other baby habits I say. A trick I used was dipping the nipple in something my baby didn’t like 3-4 times and then he just stopped taking it!
- Pacifiers may increase the risk of ear infections. However, this isn’t the case from 0-6 months when the risk of ear infection is very low.
Now that you have the pros and cons of pacifiers, here are some frequently asked questions about pacifiers.
What is a baby pacifier?
Pacifiers, also known as dummies, soothers, or binkies, are a rubbery nipple designed to satisfy a baby’s sucking impulse. Pacifiers come in different shapes and sizes; there is little evidence to support that one shape is better than another. It’s all about what your baby prefers actually, but do use the right size.
Is a pacifier bad for teeth?
The primary reason I didn’t use a pacifier too much for my first 2 children was that I was worried about their teeth. But after doing some research I found out that pacifiers only become a dental concern for your baby if they are using them as a toddler, primarily after 18 months to 2 years.
How and when to introduce a pacifier?
If you are breastfeeding then you need to ensure your baby has gotten the hang of it first, so it’s best to introduce the pacifier after one month. An ideal time to introduce the pacifier is when your baby is crying or wants to suck on something, but you have to follow your baby’s cues. The pacifier shouldn’t be a replacement for feeding so differentiating between whether a baby is hungry or fussy is important. On the other hand, if your baby takes the pacifier and spits it out, you can try again later. If you do try again and he doesn’t take it then it may not be the right soothing mechanism for your baby. My first two children didn’t take the pacifier, they kept spitting it out so I stopped using it but then my third child took it right away. You have to remember that each baby is different and may or may not like the pacifier.
Does a pacifier interfere with breastfeeding?
Although there isn't much evidence to support that pacifiers cause nipple confusion, it would be best to wait until the baby is about a month old. The reason for this is because, in the beginning, your milk supply is dependent on your baby's suckling so if your baby is spending too much time sucking on the pacifier then that will give less time on the breast, which in turn may lead to less milk supply. I followed this because I stayed home the first 40 days and didn't need to use the pacifier so by the time I got out and needed the pacifier my baby was almost 2 months old.
Should you remove the pacifier once the baby is sleeping?
As mentioned earlier the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) reports that sleeping with a pacifier can help reduce a baby's risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). However, the negative side of letting your baby sleep with a pacifier is that he may wake up in the middle of the night if the pacifier falls out. You can see how this may become a vicious cycle and disturb both you and your baby's sleep pattern. To avoid this, I used to take the pacifier out of the mouth as soon as my baby fell asleep, if there was any resistance then I'd wait a bit and try again. In this way, I didn't have any sleep issues and my baby didn’t wake up in the middle of the night.
When should you switch to the 6-month pacifier?
Size matters. Always use an age-appropriate pacifier for your baby, so when the baby turns 6 months throw out all the newborn pacifiers and upgrade to the 6-month pacifier size. Generally, pacifiers come in three sizes: 0-6 months, 6-18 months, and 18 months plus. However, different brands have different sizes (and shapes) so it would be a good idea to check the sizes and size up according to your child’s age. Giving your child the right size pacifier is very important as a size too small or too big may not soothe and can be a safety hazard. The right size pacifier also aids in the palate’s stages of development so if you don’t pay attention your child may need treatment later.
Are silicone or latex pacifiers better?
Silicone is more commonly used for pacifier nipples and is almost always top-rack dishwasher safe. On the other hand, latex is softer and more flexible than silicone, but it wears out faster and has to be hand washed. It's also worthy to point out that as adults, some infants may be allergic to latex so you may want to avoid latex soothers if you think your baby has a latex allergy. In the end, it comes down to personal preference and again what your baby likes.
What is the best pacifier brand?
Normally I would provide a list of the top brands, but I say this from experience, the best brand for pacifiers is the brand your baby chooses. Yes, you read that correctly, many mothers go through up to 10 pacifiers before they find the one their baby likes. Luckily for me, all of my babies liked the Avent pacifier so that was the brand for me. However, while searching for a natural pacifier brand for my website I came across Bibs and fell in love with it. I wish I knew about this brand earlier when I was having my kids.
The Bibs color range is stunning with over 50 colors to choose from. If that isn’t enough reason then the pacifier's nipple is made of 100% natural rubber, which is soft, flexible, and natural for the little ones. The round and soft shape resemble the mother's breast making it a great choice for your baby. The shield is made of polypropylene (PP), which is a robust and lightweight plastic material. It is gently outwards curved to prevent skin irritation. It is equipped with air holes and a security handle. The Bibs supreme range comes in silicone and latex.
When should you stop pacifier use?
Generally, it’s a good idea to wean your baby off the pacifier before the 2nd birthday because at this point the pros outweigh the cons. However, I wouldn’t advise waiting till then, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians recommend limiting or stopping pacifier use around 6 months to avoid an increased risk of ear infections, especially if your child is prone to them. I didn’t want to use the pacifier for too long anyway so I got rid of the pacifier by the 1st birthday because I felt that after that my baby would have become more aware and it would be a harder battle.
The most important accessories you need for pacifiers are ones that keep your pacifier clean and safe. I can't tell you enough how easy it is to lose a pacifier and if you don't have a spare one handy then you have a crying baby to deal with. Investing in a pacifier clip and a pacifier case is just as important as getting the pacifier itself.
Pacifiers are so adorable and cute, but they are also super easy to lose. This is where pacifier clips come in super handy as you can attach them to your baby's clothes to keep them within reach and stay clean. Plus, you don’t have to keep looking for the pacifier.
Check out the Mushie Pacifier Clip Ari and Mushie Pacifier Clip Cleo. These vintage-inspired pacifier clips are handmade by moms in the USA. What’s unique about these pacifier clips is that they are made completely of natural materials.
- The Silicone beads are made of premium quality 100% food-grade silicone, 100% nontoxic, odorless, BPA free, and lead-free.
- The wooden beads are natural and eco-friendly.
- The clasp is also lead-free and the nylon string is mold and mildew resistant.
When you’re out and about with your baby the last thing you want is to drop the pacifier or even worse, lose it! A pacifier case, also known as a pacifier holder, is perfect to keep your baby’s pacifiers safe and within reach. The Mushie Pacifier Case has a sturdy strap and room to fit up to three pacifiers. This pacifier case can be easily looped onto a diaper bag or stroller, so comfort is always within arm’s reach. It’s also made from food-grade silicone in timeless colors, and it's dishwasher-safe for easy cleaning.
I hope that you've been able to make a decision on whether or not to use a pacifier for your baby!