Thinking of using a pacifier? You are tired of being a human pacifier while putting your baby to sleep and your baby is starting to suck her thumb.

Baby’s grandmother probably says no, because of possible dental issues. We investigate how much that is true, all according to science.

Should I give my baby a pacifier?

Sucking on something is a reflex that infants have. The best option, of course, is to soothe the baby by rocking and cuddling, but for some babies, the need to suck is more. In this situation, a pacifier will, of course, be a great help! After all, a pacifier is easy to get rid of than a child’s thumb!

But there are caveats to this and we will discuss them below and what would be a ideal way to use a pacifier.

First, the outright advantages

  1. Pre-term babies had less hospital say when they had pacifiers.
  2. Pacifier use has has been associated with decreased risk in SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

But what about

Dental Issues

Common problems that Indian grandmothers state is dental issues and misaligned teeth. Studies have shown that this is only an issue if the pacifier is used beyond 2 yrs of age and more pronounced over 4 yrs of age.  There were no strong or consistent association between early childhood cavities and pacifier use.

So while what our grandmother has said is kind of true, there are ways to be smart about pacifier use. See below.

A Pacifier should not replace nursing!

La Leche League International recommends that pacifiers never be used as a substitute for the mother’s breast or comforting. However, they also state that pacifiers can be of help to a breastfeeding mother when used judiciously, for short periods of time and in limited circumstances *

Get Smart!

When and how to give a pacifier

Give a pacifier only after breastfeeding has been firmly established and milk supply is not a matter of concern.

Don’t offer the pacifier before baby is 1 month old.

Only give a pacifier after the baby has been fed well, usually when baby is about to fall asleep and needs a way to soothe themselves and you don’t want to comfort nurse the baby to sleep.

Keep the pacifier clean just like you would do baby bottles.

Don’t offer a pacifier if  baby has issues gaining weight.

When to take it away

It is easier to take away a pacifier before the child turns one. Between 6-8 months is an ideal time frame. The need to suck is much reduced after the baby is 6 months old and baby can be taught to soothe herself back to sleep

Reach out to your doctor for questions before giving a pacifier to your baby. Happy Mothering!

*La Leche League International . The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding. 6th edition. New York: Plume (The Penguin Group) Publishing; 1997. About the Pacifier; pp. 73–4.

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