Most newborns have a strong sucking reflex which may lead new parents to ask, “Is a pacifier good for a newborn?”
If you are one of those parents who want to comfort their babies and are thinking of offering them a pacifier, here are a few facts that you should know about them which may help you to decide.
Is a Pacifier Good for a Newborn?
Pacifiers may go into different nicknames like soothers, dummies, binkies, soo-soos, and buttons. But in any way you want to call them, you possibly think that pacifiers can bring joy to your newborn.
These products come in different sizes and shapes with consumer standards in Singapore legislating that pacifiers for babies be manufactured from non-toxic materials for baby’s safety.
As its name suggests, pacifiers help soothe and calm your newborn. Babies have a strong sucking reflex even before they were born. So, aside from helping with nutrition, sucking gives babies a soothing effect and helps them adapt to their world outside the womb.
However, the use of pacifiers may come with some pluses and minuses. Your newborn may love their binky, but will it have a negative effect on their teeth later on?
Benefits of a Pacifier
The fact is some babies benefit from using a pacifier. Here are some of the pros to consider:
1) It satisfies the baby’s need for sucking
Non-nutritive sucking is a normal infant reflex, as babies are born with a need to suck. The frequency varies from baby to baby.
Babies tend to suck when they are bored, tired or need comfort. A pacifier may just satisfy the baby’s urge to suck.
2) It helps the baby to fall asleep
Babies enjoy the self-comforting feeling of sucking as they doze off to sleep. The pleasurable stimulation of sucking helps babies cope better with the distractions around them.
3) It reduces the risk of overfeeding for bottle-fed babies
The urge to suck is often misunderstood as a sign of hunger. You may be overfeeding your already full baby. So, try offering a pacifier if the baby still wants to suck even if they have been fed adequately.
4) It is easier to control the use of a pacifier than to stop thumb sucking
You can make your baby stop the use of a pacifier by simply throwing it away when the need arises. However, thumbsucking becomes a habit that may be difficult to break because, well, thumbs are always available to them!
Naptime needn’t be a battle. | Image: iStock
Problems Associated with Pacifiers
Despite the benefits mentioned above, there’s a reason why some experts discourage parents from giving pacifiers to their babies.
1) They may inhibit baby’s growth
The sucking activity requires energy, and their overuse may result in poor weight gain and poor feeding, especially among frail babies.
2) They pose a greater risk of ear infections
Pacifiers are a source of middle ear infections. Prolonged and continuous sucking may change the pressure within the middle ear chamber.
3) Too much use may lead to delayed speech
It would be difficult for the baby to talk while having a pacifier in their mouth. Infants can get addicted to them and their use after a year can interfere with their normal speech and babbling.
4) Inappropriate and prolonged use may lead to dental problems
The use of pacifiers can lead to many dental problems such as protruding and crooked teeth, and can even alter the shape of the mouth. Pacifiers dipped in corn syrup, honey or glucose can lead to tooth decay among infants.
Should I Remove the Pacifier When the Baby Is Sleeping?
Some newborn babies may possibly find it easier to suck on a pacifier. This will make it harder for them to latch on during breastfeeding times.
Or, maybe, they might use their energy to suck on the pacifier and then fall asleep or be less interested in breastfeeding when it is time for feeding.
The question now will follow: Should I remove pacifier when baby is sleeping?
The answer could be yes or no. Removing the pacifier when your newborn baby is sleeping is largely useless. It is because your newborn may have developed the sucking-to-sleep association during bedtime. This means that you will likely have to repeat it at night.
Additionally, as your newborn approaches age one, you will find yourself at another pacifier crossroads.
However, you may also need to consult with your doctor or paediatrician to know more about removing a pacifier when your baby is sleeping. In this case, they will guide you as to when, how, and why you should remove it.
Does a Pacifier Affect Your Baby Teeth?
According to a study reviewed by ClevelandClinic.com, Dr Mudd says that sucking on a pacifier or thumb may cause a newborn child’s teeth to misalign.
He added that it is a valid concern, but not until the child goes between 2 and 4 years old. To avoid pacifiers that may affect your baby teeth, try to wean them off the pacifier by the time they reach 4 years old.
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Tips for Healthy Pacifier Use
- You should sterilize it by boiling in water for about 5 minutes.
- It’s a good idea to have similar backup pacifiers in case they get lost or fall off on the floor or street, just when you need them. Getting spares will also allow time for their cleaning which should be done by washing them with warm, soapy water.
- It’s a good idea to discontinue their use well before the child reaches 5 years of age.
- Never try to force a baby to use it. If the baby doesn’t accept it, try other ways of soothing them.
- Choose a pacifier according to the age of the infant. In most cases, the one-piece model with a soft nipple is the most suitable of the lot.
- Do not attach a ribbon or string longer than 6 inches to your baby’s pacifier, as this is a choking hazard.
How to Clean Baby’s Pacifier
Every mom should keep the pacifier of their newborn clean, even if they are newly bought. Pacifiers should be sterilized before using them.
To sterilize the pacifier of your newborn, you may boil it in a pot with sufficient water for 5 minutes only. Or, you may soak it in a mixture of water and sterilizing fluid.
If using a sterilizing solution, you should not leave the pacifier longer than what is recommended. This will damage the material.
The ventilation hole is also important. It allows the teat to be compressed in the mouth so that it might adapt to the palate. This adaption to the palate is necessary for the development milestone of your newborn’s jaw and mouth.
Parents are sharply divided over the question of the use of pacifiers. While some cringe at their sight, others are gung ho about them. So, which side of the fence are you on?
Image Source: iStock
Here at theAsianparent Singapore, it’s important for us to give information that is correct, significant, and timely. But this doesn’t serve as an alternative for medical advice or medical treatment. theAsianparent Singapore is not responsible for those that would choose to drink medicines based on information from our website. If you have any doubts, we recommend consulting your doctor for clearer information.