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Pacifiers for Infants: Here’s What You Need to Know

baby laying down sucking on pacifier

If you’re a new parent, you’ll soon love your baby’s pacifier more than your baby does. A pacifier is like a magic silence button you can press when everything else fails to calm your baby. 

It’s no surprise that parents have been fashioning pacifier-like devices to comfort and ease their little ones for centuries. Researchers have even unearthed pacifier-type objects constructed from clay, silver, and pearl made thousands of years ago. 

And yet, despite the pacifier’s long history, this baby accessory continues to create controversy even in today’s world. 

When do you start using a pacifier? Are some pacifiers better than others? What are the pros and cons of using a baby pacifier?

These are some of the questions we’re here to answer for you!

Read on to learn everything you need to know about pacifiers.  

Related: Pacifier Weaning: How & When to Do It

What Is A Pacifier?       

At its most basic level, a pacifier is a device to help soothe your baby when they’re too full to eat or they’re not hungry.  

Pacifiers are nipple-shaped devices made from silicon, plastic, or rubber. 

A baby’s natural instinct is to suck, which is why you may find them sucking their fingers, toes, toys, and more. This way, pacifiers soothe the baby by appeasing their natural desire to suck.

That’s where pacifiers get their name because they can pacify your baby!

Research shows another massive benefit to using pacifiers: they can reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), especially in the first few months of life.

Despite the apparent benefits, there remains a widespread controversy over using pacifiers. 

Continue reading to get all the facts about pacifiers. 

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When To Start Using A Pacifier? 

 

mother helping newborn with pacifier

Despite babies being born with a natural instinct to suck, there are a few things to know before introducing a pacifier to your baby.

Generally, pacifiers are exceedingly helpful for babies under six months of age. 

Premature babies specifically are often given pacifiers as a way to practice reflexes like swallowing and sucking.  

For newly breastfed infants, you should wait two to four weeks until you train your baby to latch correctly before introducing them to a pacifier. In comparison, for bottle-fed babies, you don’t have to wait. You can start them on the binky right away if you choose.

Concerning when throughout the day to use your pacifier, babies can use it either day or night, and even when they are sleeping!

However, you should not use a pacifier when your baby is hungry. It’s important not to replace meals with pacifier use so your baby can obtain all the vitamins and nutrients they require to develop healthily.

In essence, what time you decide to use a pacifier is mainly up to you as the parent. You may hear stories from friends and family rooting for and against using a pacifier, but it’s your decision when it comes down to it because every baby is different. 

What’s The Best Pacifier?    

Like many other baby accessories and gadgets, the options are endless. You must choose from different shapes, materials, colors, and sizes. 

How will you know which pacifier is best for your special baby? We’re here to help. 

When looking for a baby binky, you will want to consider the following criteria: shape, size, and cleaning.  

  • Shape 

Typically, pacifiers have a nipple-shaped part made from silicone or rubber. This rubber piece sometimes attaches to a larger piece called the “shield.” 

When looking for a pacifier, it’s recommended to find one that comes in one whole piece instead of two separate pieces; this is because if the two separate pieces of the pacifier were to break apart, it would create a choking hazard. 

  • Size  

Another essential part to consider when deciding on a pacifier is the size. 

You want to make sure the size of your baby’s pacifier is bigger than their mouth so that they can’t accidentally fit it in their mouths, swallow, or choke on it.     

  • Cleaning    

For your benefit, the next thing to consider when looking for a pacifier is whether it’s dishwasher safe. 

Considering how often your baby will use pacifiers, save yourself some time cleaning by purchasing one you can just toss in the dishwasher! Don’t forget that when the pacifier starts to look worn or gnarly, that means it’s time for a replacement. 

Deciding on a pacifier doesn’t have to be overwhelming! By considering these significant criteria, you will be equipped to find the best pacifier for your baby!

Related: Is Your Baby Teething? Use Our Teething Chart

Is There A Downside To Using A Pacifier?  

baby sucking on a block

Now that we’ve covered all the basics and benefits, you’re probably ready to sprint and buy a pacifier right now! However, there’s just one more thing left to cover. 

There are a lot of yes and no, back and forth, and pros and cons to using pacifiers. In this way, it’s important to understand the potential downsides of introducing a pacifier to your baby.

  • Pacifier Reliance 

Pacifier reliance is most significant regarding a baby’s sleep habits. Using a pacifier to help your baby fall asleep will mean that they’ll require that pacifier to fall asleep in the future.

Say your baby falls asleep with their pacifier, but in the middle of the night, they wake up and can’t find it. The temporary loss of their pacifier will send them into a crying fit, meaning you’ll have to wake up to give it back to them. 

To try and avoid this situation, leave multiple pacifiers in their bed so they have a greater chance of finding one themselves. 

  • Nipple Confusion

If a baby takes a pacifier too early, the pacifier can confuse their ability to latch on correctly during breastfeeding

Many parents avoid pacifiers for the first few weeks until their baby has mastered latching during breastfeeding. After the baby has latched on successfully for a few weeks, introducing the pacifier will be more than safe. 

  • Ear & Dental Problems 

Evidence shows that pacifiers increase the risk of fluid buildup in the ears of older babies around six to twelve months. This buildup of fluid can potentially bring about inner ear infections. If your baby experiences consistent ear infections, consult a doctor about using a pacifier. 

Pacifiers may also cause misalignment of your child’s teeth. Like sucking on a thumb, using a pacifier at older ages, around two and four, can result in crooked teeth. It’s advised to wean your child off of their binky by the age of four to avoid dental issues.

There you have it! Those are the three primary downsides to introducing your baby to a binky. 

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That’s Everything! 

Now that we’ve covered the basics, benefits, and downsides of using a pacifier, you have all the information to decide whether to introduce one to your baby!

In the darkest and smelliest of times as a new parent, sometimes the only thing you have to cling to for help is a pacifier. 

Related: Baby Won’t Stop Crying? Here’s What to Do