Pacifiers and Newborns
Babies are different from one another. Some babies have a need to suck their fingers and thumbs more than others do; it is a reflex that most parents encourage with the use of pacifiers. The reflex of sucking is soothing for babies, and for many babies it starts in the womb. Whether parents want to encourage pacifiers or not, it is a personal choice, but it also should take into consideration the baby, and what seems to be best, in a particular case. This has been a much-debated issue, and until today, the issue continues to be heavily discussed. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics seems to approve of pacifiers now.
The use of pacifiers date back to the 1800s. Wealthy parents used to give babies the equivalent of a pacifier these days made of silver and expensive materials such as mother of pearl to calm and soothe the baby. They stated as teething rings that ultimately developed as pacifiers.
Pros and Cons of Pacifiers
Safety is the number one consideration when choosing a pacifier. Pacifiers should be up to safety standards and the latest materials and technology. Parents should not use old type or vintage style pacifiers. New technology in pacifiers is usually backed by studies and reports, while old pacifiers might not be as safe due to material and construction issues. Many of the old style pacifiers pose a choking hazard for the baby.
Many of the benefits of using a pacifier are the soothing effect it offers the baby and its use as a prop for distracting and calming baby during certain procedures such as medical shots, or when the baby has to wait until its bottle of milk is prepared. Because it has a calming effect on baby, a pacifier is a good prop to help baby fall asleep. Pacifiers are affordable and disposable, so when it is time for a new one, parents can easily buy it, to ensure sanitary and safety conditions, if it becomes worn. One of the biggest pros of the use of pacifiers is that research and studies seem to show that there is a correlation with the reduction of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and the use of pacifiers. It appears that babies who use a pacifier are less at risk to suffer from SIDS - a parent's worst nightmare.
On the other hand, there are certain issues with pacifiers that are considered cons. A baby might get too used to a pacifier, which may interrupt the sleeping cycle when the pacifier falls from his/her mouth. It is found that if an infant uses a pacifier for a long period it may affect the proper growth of the teeth, but this seems to be only if the use is prolonged.
If a pacifier is given to a baby too soon, it may interfere with breastfeeding, as baby might not know how to nurse from the breast. Ear infections and pacifiers seem to be correlated in older infants, usually after six months of age.
Recommendations for Using a Pacifier
A pacifier should be used after the baby has learned his/her regular nursing routine, or at least until the baby is a month old. By this time, the baby should be used to the feeding routine. A pacifier should be used to calm a baby with other methods as well, so the baby does not get use only to that as a calming prop. A pacifier should be kept clean, and parents should inspect the item very often, for wear and tear signs that could be a choking hazard. One-piece pacifiers are recommended, as well as the kind that are dishwasher safe. A two-piece pacifier may become lose and separate becoming a hazard. It is not recommended to force a baby to use a pacifier; some babies are just not interested.
When to Stop Using a Pacifier
Most babies will stop on their own or lose interest in a pacifier. However, others will not, and parents should closely observe the infant behavior for any clues, and consult their pediatrician before removing it. Other times, it will be the cause of ear infections, and stopping its use will be best. A parent can also start weaning the baby from the pacifier early, a bit at a time. Babies are little people with unique personalities, and each baby is different, by observing a baby's reaction to a pacifier parents can learn how to proceed.