Pacifiers can be a useful tool for parents to make sure that babies are not crying all the time. Moreover, at this phase of child development, babies are always yearning to have something to fill their mouths to satisfy their craving for sucking. Now is it really essential to infant care? Here are the pros and cons of using a pacifier from the trusted Mayo Clinic staff:
- A pacifier may soothe a fussy baby. Some babies are happiest when they’re sucking on something.
- A pacifier offers temporary distraction. When your baby’s hungry, a pacifier may buy you a few minutes to find a comfortable spot to nurse or to prepare a bottle. A pacifier also may come in handy during shots, blood tests or other procedures.
- A pacifier may help your baby go to sleep. If your baby has trouble settling down, a pacifier might do the trick.
- Pacifiers may help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Researchers have found an association between pacifier use during sleep and a reduced risk of SIDS.
- Pacifiers are disposable. When it’s time to stop using pacifiers, you can throw them away. If your baby prefers to suck on his or her thumb or fingers, it may be more difficult to break the habit.
Of course, pacifiers have pitfalls as well. Consider the drawbacks:
- Early pacifier use may interfere with breast-feeding. Sucking on a breast is different from sucking on a pacifier or bottle. Some babies have trouble learning how to nurse properly if they’re given a pacifier too soon.
- Your baby may become dependent on the pacifier. If your baby uses a pacifier to sleep, you may face frequent middle-of-the-night crying spells when the pacifier falls out of your baby’s mouth.
- Pacifier use may increase the risk of middle ear infections. However, rates of middle ear infections are generally lowest from birth to age 6 months — when the risk of SIDS is the highest and your baby may be most interested in a pacifier.
- Prolonged pacifier use may lead to dental problems. Normal pacifier use during the first few years of life doesn’t cause long-term dental problems. If your child continues to use a pacifier persistently, however, his or her top front teeth may slant out or the upper and lower jaws may be misaligned.