As a new mother, you have to adjust to staying awake at night, as most babies tend not to sleep through most hours of the night. It might be frustrating as you may have tried everything to make your baby sleep all in vain.
A quick google search on the problem will pop up the use of pacifiers which soothes the child to sleep without the help of the parents.
Table of Contents
Most times, the other side of using pacifiers isn’t highlighted. This article sheds some light on some of the side effects of pacifiers and how you can neutralize or prevent them.
Some 4 side effects of using pacifiers
- Oral Infections
Pacifiers expose the infant to so many risks of oral infections. Pacifiers, just like a toothbrush, have regular oral contact with the child, which allows germs and bacteria to grow inside the baby’s mouth.
The best way to prevent this issue is by ensuring the pacifier is clean before every use.
- Interferes with the child breastfeeding routine
If you have a breastfeeding schedule you faithfully stick to, using a pacifier may hinder the set routine. Moreover, using a pacifier reduces the breastfeeding period, which limits the mother-child bonding time.
To ease this effect, introduce a pacifier only when necessary so as not to interfere with breastfeeding.
- Speech problems
Frequent use of the pacifier over a long period may interfere with the child’s oral growth and development. When the pacifier hinders the growth of teeth, it’ll cause speech issues, interfere with the mouth structure, position of the tongue, swallowing, and increase the risk of tooth decay.
To avoid this problem, you shouldn’t allow frequent use during the teeth growing stages.
Pacifiers are often exposed to an atmosphere that is full of dust and bacteria. Using a dirty pacifier can cause allergic reactions to your child, such as throat infection, which may grow into a breathing problem in the future.
Important safety tips
- If your child chews the pacifier at night, do not allow them to use it again.
- Also, do not leave them unmonitored pacifiers; instead, try to engage the baby in other ways.
- You can also reduce the time the child uses a pacifier so that slowly the child will eventually outgrow the habit.
At what age should pacifiers be taken away?
You are now ready to wean your child from the pacifier; you shouldn’t anticipate any excitement from the child in this process. Remember, the child’s sucking reflex starts at a very young age in the womb; hence it won’t be a walk in the park.
The child will put up some form of resistance and won’t go down without a fight.
Most experts recommend that the introduction of a pacifier be after adequate breastfeeding for the child to reduce the risk of SIDS. The recommended age to wean off a pacifier is between 2-4 years. Even though non-nutritive sucking is normal for infants, it is advisable to wean off by three years to avoid the child’s risk of dental malocclusions.
Other parents opt to wait for their children to self-wean as the time recommended to start the process coincides with the child’s developmental leaps and may take away the much-needed self-soothing method.
Preparing for the weaning process
- You ought to pay attention to your baby’s sucking if they are doing it just for real comfort or they’re content and doing it for the sake of it.
- Take the pacifier away from the baby times when the child doesn’t need to suck.
- Offer alternative ways that can soothe the child, such as a rocking chair or soft music. If teeth growing seems to be the problem, you can use a cold washcloth or a teething ring instead.
- If the baby resists taking away the pacifier, you can distract the baby by playing with them or giving them a toy.
Weaning is favorable when the baby is content and has an alternative or a distraction that works for them. Taking away the pacifier will generally upset the child, hence doing so when they have a strong desire to suck will further upset the child and keep them crying.
Moreover, taking away the pacifier when the child has a strong sucking urge will resort to their original sucking reflex, where they go for their thumb as another option.
Even with all the measures in place, once in a while, you will find yourself giving your child the pacifier while in a distressed state, and it is okay.
The process is not instant but gradual, so eventually, you’ll realize the child is slowly letting go of the pacifier. It starts with daytime, then when the child only needs the pacifier at night, you can then introduce a favorite toy, blanket, or even bedtime story to lull the child to sleep.
How to wean the child off the pacifier?
The below tried and tested methods will sure give you the results you expect. There are both slow and quick methods and whichever you settle on depends on your toddler’s cognitive abilities.
The quick method
This method needs quite strong nerves and requires you to be mentally prepared.
The first step is explaining to your child that you’ll be taking away their pacifier in a specific number of days since they are old enough to do without one. Make sure to give the child a constant reminder on the same till the prearranged day.
On the scheduled day, take all the pacifiers out of sight. To replace the pacifiers, give the child another comforting item like a toy, teether, teddy bear, or preferable item.
Some parents use a fairy story who came and picked up the pacifiers and left other new lovely things for the child.
The tough bit about this method is that you’ll need to stick to your decision even though the child may cry for a day or two. After 2-3 days, the child will have forgotten and adjusted, and the crying period will be over.
The slow method
The slow and steady method, though it may require patience, it eventually works. With this route, you’ll need a well-laid-out plan.
Engage your child in a conversation about them being old enough to do away with their pacifier. You can tell them of other people the child relates to, like the siblings who’ve done it and instead embraced other toys like the teddy bear. Let the child get the excitement of having new toys by joining them in their play.
Whenever your child asks for a pacifier, you can distract the child by offering them another solution, engaging them, playing with them as a way of delaying handing them their pacifier. When they successfully go without the pacifier, shower them with loud praises.
Limiting its use
You can figure out when the infant doesn’t need a pacifier, like during bedtime or a nap, and don’t put it inside their mouth.
You can give your child choices such as if they want a pacifier, they can have it and not get to do something they love or want to do, leaving them with one option.
It’s always important that you acknowledge the efforts of your child that’s stepping out of their comfort zone by offering them a reward. The reward may differ from child to child, and as a parent, you know what would please your child best.
Weaning a child off a pacifier is a very delicate process that works differently with every child. With the tips from this article, you are sure to figure out which one is favorable for your infant.