Baby registries are filled with all the needed and desired items to welcome the new bambino. Cribs, strollers, layettes, bumbo seats, changing tables and of course—the pacifier! These little accessories come in all colors, shapes and sizes. Small clips are even available to keep the special peace-ensuring devices from getting lost.
But are they really necessary? Most importantly, are they safe? You decide. Here are some pros and cons of the infamous, baby-soothing binky.
Babies are naturally endowed with a strong sucking desire. Some babies even suck their fingers in the womb. Offering a pacifier is one way a parent can fulfill that natural desire. Some studies suggest that sucking actually helps relieve stress. Pacifiers can provide comfort for little ones when they are in uncomfortable situations. During shots, illnesses and life transitions a pacifier can provide a little extra sucking comfort.
If your baby has to travel by air, sucking on a pacifier can help with the air pressure changes and help their ears adjust accordingly.
When you decide your child is past the pacifier stage, you can easily throw it away. If your child sucks his fingers, it is a lot harder to break the habit, since his fingers are always easily accessible.
Binkies have had a positive effect on SIDS. Recently the cases of SIDS in the U.S. have dropped dramatically and doctors are linking the use of pacifiers to this exciting news. Some doctors hypothesize that the reason for the seeming decline of SIDS as it is related to pacifier usage is that the pacifier helps keep the oral airway open by pushing the tongue forward.
Even though you can throw away a pacifier, if your child is attached to it, he may have long crying spells as he goes through “pacifier withdrawal”. He learned to use the pacifier as a comfort item and now is unsure how to comfort himself. If you are considering giving your child a pacifier, be cautious about letting him fall asleep with it. Use it sparingly and offer other comfort items that will not have to be taken away later.
Pacifiers can become infested with germs quickly. Toddlers may drop them on the floor while playing and place it right back in his mouth. Also, other children may take the pacifier, borrow it for a while, and then return it with additional germs.
Dental problems can also arise from prolonged use of the pacifier. They can cause upper teeth to stick out and have trouble coming in. Discuss these issues and their solutions with your family dentist.
Breastfeeding can be affected by the use of a pacifier. Wait at least two weeks of age before offering a pacifier if you are planning on breastfeeding your infant. Since the nipple on the pacifier is different from the nipple of the breast, nipple confusion can result.
If you choose to give your tiny bundle a pacifier, keep these safety measures in mind:
- Keep it clean. Pacifiers can pick up germs from your hands, the floor, the stroller and many other places. Wash it regularly to ensure invisible germies are gone for good!
- Purchase one-piece, dishwasher safe pacifiers. Two-pieced pacifiers can break and become a choking hazard.
- Check for deterioration. If any wear and tear begins to show on the pacifier, replace it immediately.
- Never tie a pacifier around the baby’s neck or to the crib. In order to keep up with the tiny objects of affection, parents may want to tied the binky around the baby’s neck. This can cause strangulation and its obvious serious results. Only allow little ones to wear pacifier clips under supervision.
As you weigh the pros and cons of offering a binky to your little one, safety should be your number one decision-maker. Keep your eyes and ears open for any pacifier recalls. If you choose to comfort your bambino through a pacifier, do it the safe way!
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