Many new parents like myself and my huzzband wonder if it’s okay to use pacifiers when a baby is crying and fussing. You hear all the time that if you are trying to breastfeed that its best to wait until a few weeks before introducing the pacifier to avoid nipple confusion. Most experts agree that they’re safe and useful if you follow simple safety rules and wean your child off them at an appropriate stage. To me, when you are in the first few days of parenthood, and you need a break…put that pacifier in sis, it won’t harm the baby trust me!
In fact, pacifiers appeal to a baby’s natural urge to suck to get nourishment and soothe themselves.
Some research even suggests that they can have significant health benefits. Some including reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome and helping preterm babies to gain weight. I also have found that it allows Noah to go and stays asleep longer. We got the little clips that you can put on the baby. That way you don’t always have to go around looking for them. Pacifiers are quickly dropped, misplaced, or get dirty often.
How to Use Pacifiers
Today’s pacifiers come in the traditional version and a wide variety of cute designs. The important thing is to ensure that they’re safe for your baby.
Follow these guidelines to avoid common hazards:
- Make it sturdy. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends one-piece designs that will hold together with ventilation holes to let air in. You can also reduce the risk of accidents by using a pacifier clip instead of tying the pacifier to your baby or a crib.
- Some perfect pacifiers are by Avent. Noah really likes them, and it has the ages of when the baby should use it (which reminds me we need to switch his out for a 3 month one). I wouldn’t recommend using a smaller pacifier since they can easily choke on it, and it’s not a good look at all. New parents already catch so much heat from the doctors about what to do and not. You don’t need this added to the list.
- Choose the correct size. Pacifiers come in 2 sizes for babies under and over 6 months. They also need to be at least one inch wide to prevent them from being swallowed. As a new parent, I knew nothing about this under after I had a baby so don’t feel bad.
- Many companies now list the ages for each pacifier stage, so you don’t have to worry about it but be alert and mindful since every baby is different. IF you still have concerns, it’s always best to talk to your pediatrician as they will know your baby the best and can provide you with the best recommendations.
- Clean thoroughly. Put used pacifiers in the dishwasher until your baby is 6 months old. After that, you can wash them with soap and hot water.
- What I do is sterilize the pacifiers every few days in boiling hot water. This is the best way to kill any bacteria since babies put them in and out of their mouths.
- Breastfeed first. Spend your first days or weeks becoming comfortable with breastfeeding before you introduce the pacifier. Remember that the pacifier is for soothing rather than delaying feedings.
- If you can’t breastfeed, that is totally okay since there are a lot of reasons why women cannot breastfeed. Do NOT feel pressured to doing it if you are not comfortable. Again, it’s your choice, and you know what is best for you, your situation, and your baby.
- Also, sometimes you need to use the pacifier to delay the feeding a little because you may be out in the street and can’t pull over right away. Or you are in the process of making the bottle and need a few more seconds to make sure that you got it together before feeding the baby.
- Watch for ear infections. You may have heard about studies that link pacifiers to ear infections. Those effects can be eliminated by giving your baby a pacifier only when they’re going to sleep.
- Typically, if a baby has an ear infection, it will start by them tugging on their ears, and most babies would have had at least one ear infection by the time they are two years old.
How to Give Up Pacifiers
I want to mention that Noah is still an infant, so we have a long way to go before we even need to worry about this, but for the mamas and papas in the village who are further along with their baby journey, this is for you!
Some experts suggest breaking the habit as early as 6 months before any emotional attachment forms. As a new parent, I let Noah lead me when he is ready to move on. Most authorities agree that 4 years is the maximum to avoid overbites and other dental issues. Each child is different, so you’ll need to decide what works for your family.
Consider these strategies:
- Go cold turkey. The advice for giving up pacifiers sometimes sounds like giving up smoking. Different individuals succeed through various methods. If you want to make it quick, discuss a quit date with your child and prepare to say goodbye to your pacifiers for good.
- Set limits. On the other hand, you may want to proceed more gradually. Cut back on the amount of time your child uses their pacifier. You may want to save it for only those times when they feel an urgent need.
- Tell stories. Let the Pacifier Fairy help your family through this difficult time. Some folks say you need to pack up your pacifiers so she can pick them up for recycling. I have no idea what my parents did and honestly, I don’t want to know.
- Offer rewards. Whatever strategy you use, give your child incentives for parting with their old friend. Praise them for becoming more grown-up. Plan a special outing or serve their favorite meals. Give them another comfort object if needed, like a stuffed toy.
- Be consistent. Remember to stand firm if your child begs for their pacifier and ensure grandparents and other caregivers do the same. Your child will soon adjust, and it will make the process more manageable in the long run.
Go ahead and give your baby the binky they love. Pacifiers are comforting for your baby and convenient for you. Be sure to keep them clean and discontinue their use when your child reaches an age where they develop other ways to soothe themselves. As mentioned above, make sure to always do what is best for you and your baby. A lot of times, everything is so generalized that it doesn’t consider your personal and specific baby, so keep that in mind.
As you know by now, I’m all about taking the recommendation from doctors and other parents and spinning it to work the best for Noah, myself, and my family.