When your baby is crying, but you know he isn’t hungry, you may be tempted to reach for a pacifier to help soothe him.
But is this a good idea? Here are some of the pros and cons to help you know what you’re getting into.
First, if you are breastfeeding your baby, do not use a pacifier until nursing is well established and your baby is at least four weeks old.
The muscular movements used to nurse from the breast are very different from the muscular movements used to suck a pacifier (or from a bottle).
Giving your breastfed baby a pacifier can make it harder for him to nurse from the breast. Check with your pediatrician or lactation consultant about the best time and way to introduce artificial nipples.
Unlike thumb or finger sucking, when it is time to wean or break your baby from the pacifier, you can throw the pacifier away. Some children have a greater need to suck than others, and a pacifier can be especially comforting to these babies.
Pacifiers can sometimes keep babies happy until you can find a spot to nurse or prepare a bottle.
On the other hand, pacifiers can lead to dental problems if they are used past the infant and toddler years. Babies who become used to falling asleep with a pacifier in their mouth may wake up if the pacifier comes out of their mouth, and may not be able to get back to sleep until someone (this means you) gets out of bed, and gets them their pacifier again.
There are also some studies that show that pacifier use can increase the number of ear infections a baby gets.
Some children simply don’t like pacifiers; if your child doesn’t like pacifiers, then don’t worry about it. There isn’t any reason your child has to have a pacifier.
Whatever you decide about using a pacifier, you should always try other methods for comforting your baby before reaching for the pacifier. For example, does your baby’s diaper need changing?
Does your baby need burping? Does your baby need feeding? Is your baby clothing too warm, not warm enough, or somehow irritating? Sometimes babies just need to be held, or need a change of position. Never use a pacifier to do a mother’s job.