As a new parent, you probably face a series of questions and decisions you’ve not dealt with before. These choices may feel weighty as they have a direct impact on your newborn child.
Confusion piles up from the numerous varying parenting styles and methods in magazines, books, and friends. One of the areas with conflicting ideas is the use of a pacifier.
It’s a reflex action in infants to have a strong desire to suck. This need begins while the child is in the womb, as from ultrasounds, you’ll see them sucking their fingers and toes. The invention of the pacifiers was to cater to this need.
However, there has been an unending debate surrounding the use of a pacifier, which leaves most parents confused about what’s best for their babies. This piece attempts to give a solution to parents who are still undecided on giving the child a pacifier, especially during the night.
When is the right time to introduce a pacifier?
Introducing a pacifier may be a concern for most parents because they worry about the child having problems breastfeeding. Different pacifiers, though created as an imitation of the nipple, have a different shape to a real nipple, thus creating confusion in the child.
The result is an issue of muscle memory in the infant, especially for a child trying to learn on latching on to the breast.
The physical action of sucking to extract milk from the breast is different from how the child sucks a pacifier and a milk bottle.
The best time to introduce a pacifier depends on the child’s stage.
- For babies who drink from a bottle, you can introduce a pacifier at any age.
- For breastfeeding and having no latching trouble, the best age to introduce a pacifier would be 3-4 weeks old.
Nonetheless, for babies’ breastfeeding and who have latching troubles, it’s better to wait till the child is four weeks or older when the child has mastered breastfeeding.
Can you leave the child with a pacifier at night?
The primary reason for using a pacifier is to soothe the baby to keep calm or sleep. Therefore, you can allow your baby to sleep with a pacifier in their mouth safely.
There are safety tips listed below that you should have in place if you choose a pacifier for the night.
Avoid attaching the pacifier to string as it may present a strangling risk to the child.
- Do not introduce your child to a pacifier at night while they are still learning to breastfeed.
- Always ensure the pacifier is clean by disinfecting with hot water.
- Do not add any coatings to the pacifier.
- Always make sure the pacifier has breathing holes in the guard.
- Use the accurate size of the pacifier depending on your child’s age.
- Use a one-piece pacifier.
The benefits of using a pacifier at night
It is a better alternative to thumb-sucking
As stated earlier, babies have an inborn sucking reflex action, and they will always find something to suck. The closest thing they can find is their thumb or finger, which ultimately develops into a habit.
Thumb sucking is a habit that can be detrimental and lead to dental issues, especially if it continues past two. Also, remember, it’s easy to curb pacifying than thumb sucking.
It is a way of training a baby to self-soothe
The most rewarding moment of parenting a toddler within the first year is when the baby learns to fall asleep themselves. A pacifier can train the child to soothe themselves to sleep without your physical presence.
Pacifiers help minimize the risk of SIDS
Several studies have shown a relationship between the use of pacifiers with lowering the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
The disadvantages of using a pacifier
A pacifier can lead to dental issues
If your infant is still sucking on a pacifier beyond the age of 2 years, it may cause the growth of teeth in a crooked manner.
A pacifier may increase the risk of oral candida
Candida is a naturally occurring microorganism in the human mouth that may sometimes have abnormal growth. A pacifier that isn’t regularly cleaned can increase the risk of this condition if infected. You must ensure your pacifier is clean.
Attachment with the child can give you a difficult time separating the toddler from the pacifier.
If you allow the child to be fully dependent on the pacifier for years to self-soothe them to sleep, you may have difficulty detaching the child from it.
In conclusion, there is no right or wrong answer on whether or not you should give your baby a pacifier to sleep. The best solution is to trust your instincts, pay attention to your and your baby’s needs.
Can a baby choke on a pacifier?
Pacifiers are a fundamental part of a baby’s growth. It soothes the infants hence of a beneficial value to the young one, such as minimizing the risks of SIDS. However, it also comes with its fair share of risks such as choking, falling apart that may lead to ingestion; thus, you must meet the safety standards while using a pacifier.
How can an infant choke on a pacifier?
There have been several reports on accidents revolving around the use of a pacifier. The baby breaks the pacifier with their mouth in their sleep. The broken pieces may sometimes cause cuts on the child, causing bruises or bleeding on the gums or the mouth’s roof.
The pieces may even lead to choking when swallowed.
Furthermore, the infant may also choke on the pacifier if they try to insert it from the side that may cause it to flip inside the mouth and poses a choking risk.
There are also instances when an infant can choke on the nipple of the pacifier. When the nipple detaches from the pacifier, it may be hazardous when the baby swallows or chokes from the piece.
If swallowed, the infant will require immediate surgery to remove the nipple from the body.
In addition, an infant can choke when the pacifier’s lodges to the back of the throat.
- Parents need to frequently check the pacifiers for wear and tear and immediately replace them; the same applies to old pieces.
- Purchase good quality pacifiers.
- In case of any incident, quickly reach out for medical help.
Can you overuse pacifiers?
Pacifiers are only convenient to a certain stage in a toddler’s life. Sometimes, the infant can overuse the pacifiers, which becomes evident when it causes visible negative effects on the child. These signs should be a sign that it is time to get rid of the pacifier.
When to Stop
- Using a pacifier should not extend beyond the age of 4years. Two years is the ideal age to stop with the pacifier; however, if it extends by 4, the child should have outgrown its reliance.
- When pacifiers become a habit, they harm the teeth. Before the situation gets worse, it is key that you take away the pacifier for good.
- When weaning off the pacifier from the child, it should be a time where there are no major life changes or occurrences, that the child may need any form of comfort.
Ways to stop
- Begin by limiting the use of the pacifier and don’t just deny them instantly.
- Consider alternative ways to soothe your kids, such as calming music or using a rocking chair.
- Train the child with positive reinforcement such as praises when they don’t opt for a pacifier instead of punishing them for being resistant.
- Take your child to the dentist regularly to help you with this process and maintain good dental health.
Pacifiers are very useful yet very harmful if proper care and caution aren’t taken. You can satisfy your child’s needs while keeping them safe by the guidelines provided in this article.