The Pros and Cons of Pacifiers

September 24, 2018
Giving your child a pacifier constitutes more of a habit than a need. Like everything, they have their pros and cons for your baby or infant. Find out about some of the most important ones.

Many mothers wonder whether it’s good to offer their child a pacifier if they’re going to leave them alone for a moment. The pros and cons of pacifiers are under discussion in this article.

The suckling action is developed while the baby is still in the mother’s womb. Studies have proven that this sucking reflex produces a sensation of peace and calm for the baby. This action on the breast stimulates the production of milk, as well as regulating the amount needed.

The Advantages of Giving Your Child a Pacifier

Pros and Cons of Pacifiers

  • For mothers who suffer from skin problems or other discomforts that make breastfeeding a torture, turning to a bottle and a pacifier can be a blessing.
  • Some parents use a pacifier as a way of calming their children down. This is particularly true of new parents who can’t stop their baby crying. When your child hasn’t gotten enough sleep, a good dose of the pacifier will help to relax them and to fall asleep.
  • If your child needs a medical examination or maybe a vaccination, a pacifier can be a distraction and a comfort. This is because the suckling action reminds them of the warmth of your breast.
  • There is much research linking pacifiers to a reduced risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), but it hasn’t been rigorously proven  just yet.
  • If you travel on a plane with your child, a pacifier will help them deal with the changes in air pressure. This is because they can’t do it voluntarily like we can as adults.
  • Some babies need to suck constantly, and the breast just isn’t enough. They might feel full and reject the breast, but they insist on sucking their hands or even your fingers. In these cases, a pacifier could be very convenient.

Disadvantages of Giving Your Child a Pacifier

Child with pacifier looking up at photographer

Pacifiers aren’t recommended for infants under the age of 3 months old. Using one before this age will negatively impact your ability to produce milk as a result of them not sucking on your breast as much.

A pacifier could also give your child a dependency. This is especially true if you use it to help them get to sleep, or as a substitute when you’re not around. There are also links between using a pacifier and nasal and palate deformities, as well as an increased risk of otitis.

If your baby doesn’t stop the habit at around 6 months old, they could suffer from dental deformities.

Also read: Should you Wake Your Baby for Feedings?

Aspects to Consider

Close up of baby's hands holding a pacifier

If you’ve decided to give your child a pacifier, it’s a good idea to wait until you’ve consolidated your breast milk production. Make sure that the pacifier is very clean before giving it to them to avoid exposure to infections.

Replace your pacifiers frequently. Make sure that they’re not deteriorated or broken, as your baby could choke on any small broken fragments.

Look for other alternatives before giving your child a pacifier. Try holding them or singing to them to try and calm them down.

Don’t leave your child with it all day long. Offer them a rattle or let them play with their hands for a while before offering them a pacifier.

It’s important to consider your child’s emotional welfare. The use of a pacifier should be complementary to physical contact, not replace it.

Show your love and affection with all your body, stroking them and looking into their eyes, just as much as when you’re feeding them. Don’t use the pacifier as a way of “shutting them up” or to keep them quiet. Your baby needs to experiment with their hands and mouth, gurgle, “talk” and even sing. If their mouth is always busy sucking, they won’t experiment with their voice.

Some children feel the need to use a pacifier for many years, especially if they’ve been given it as a substitute for personal comforting. In these cases, you need to be patient with them until they abandon it themselves. They didn’t decide to use it, after all; you gave it to them.

Your duty is to look after them and make sure that their own pace is respected, according to their personal needs and circumstances.