Pacifiers - peaceful or problematic?
Though critics will argue against pacifier use, it can be soothing to babies.
There is a great deal of debate on whether pacifiers are a good choice for children. While critics will join either side with loud opinions, parents should make their decision based solely on what works best for their children.
Pacifiers help infants soothe themselves. The sucking reflex is strong in babies, and being able to suck on a pacifier or a thumb can help them calm themselves when they are scared, upset or bored.
The Mayo Clinic reports that pacifiers can help children fall asleep, allowing tired parents to get a little more rest. It also reports that research is finding that children who use pacifiers at night are less likely to fall victim to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Pacifiers are also a temporary distraction that can help your child get through difficult times, like doctor visits. If you will be flying with a baby, a pacifier can help relieve ear pressure through the regular sucking action.
It is possible for a child to become overly dependent on a pacifier. A child who needs the pacifier to sleep will wake you up if it falls from his or her mouth during the night. Children who constantly use a pacifier are also at a greater risk for developing ear infections. There is also some truth to the claim that pacifiers will cause dental problems. While it’s not a concern in the first few years, prolonged use beyond that point can start to interfere with the dental structure in the mouth.
Pacifiers vs. thumbs
If your child is drawn to the thumb and naturally sucks a thumb, you should consider switching to a pacifier. You cannot stop an infant from sucking a thumb at night, and this habit can be incredibly difficult to break as the child ages. However, if you can successfully switch your child to the pacifier, then it may be easier to put a stop to the habit as your child grows.
There are a few rules that can help you monitor and control pacifier use in the house. The Mayo Clinic recommends reserving pacifiers as a last defense. Rather than immediately reaching for the pacifier, consider simply changing position or rocking your child to soothe him or her. Pacifiers should not be used throughout the day, but your child should be encouraged to go without it for certain periods of time each day. Pacifier use during the first year is fine, but it should be discouraged as your child grows. By the time your child is four years old, the pacifier should be a thing of the past.
Having trouble deciding if your child should use a pacifier? Need tips on how to wean your toddler from it? Ask your Charlotte pediatrician for advice. Searching for a physician trusted by Angie’s List members in your area? Join today for exclusive access to member reports and reviews of recent services.