If you’ve been following along the last few weeks, you’ve probably noticed that we’ve been discussing some of the big decisions you’ll have to make with your baby, from breast or bottle feeding to cloth vs. disposable diapers. Having a baby (and raising him or her right) can be tricky, and there’s lots of issues that need to be considered. One that many parents have probably wrestled with when they had a newborn is
Pacifier or No Pacifier?
Whether you call them pacies, binkies, bippies, or simply pacifiers, you need to decide if you’re going to use them. It’s question as old as time (or at least, as old as pacifiers). It can be tough to answer, as there are a lot of different views on binkies out there, from being a device sent from heaven to aid your parenting to being an addiction that can scar your child for life. While both of these views are a bit too far out to left (and right) field, there’s still plenty of considerations that have to be made to determine if a pacifier is right for your baby. Let’s start with the
-They Help to Soothe Babies: There are few things that babies like more than sucking at a breast when they fall asleep (as I can attest). But sometimes mom isn’t able to serve as a sucking station when you need to get babies to calm down for a nap or a solid night’s sleep. If you don’t want mom to have to fall asleep next to the baby every night (and to avoid mommy crushing the baby and/or the baby rolling off the bed, you shouldn’t want it any night), having a pacifier can be a great help.
-They Can Serve as a Distraction: In the same vein, being able to buy yourself some time when the baby isn’t crying for attention is a great help. While pacifiers won’t always distract your baby (case in point, I had to get my daughter to settle down as I tried to write this article), they can usually serve to get your baby to calm down, particularly if he or she is already used to sucking on a pacifier.
-They Can Help Prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): If you are a new parent, there are few things that worry you more than the chance that your child will suddenly die. (Shaken Baby Syndrome comes in a distant, if still horrifying, second.) That there is a confirmed reduction in SIDS when babies fall asleep with a pacifier in their mouth, confirmed by the Mayo Clinic no less, is a strong argument in favor of binky use.
-It Can Interfere with Breastfeeding: If you opted for breastfeeding after reading my discussion of the topic, you’ll need to know that using a pacifier can interfere with your baby’s ability to suck on a mother’s nipple. The two sucking motions require different motions on the part of the baby, so it can complicate the baby learning to nurse if you give him or her a binky before he or she turns one month old.
-The Baby Can Become Dependent on the Pacifier: If you don’t want your baby to wake up in the middle of the night (more than the minimum amount, that is), getting them addicted to something that they will depend on for sleeping is probably not a good idea. You can find yourself waking at the wee hours of the morning to put the binky back in place, or having to hunt it down if it slips away (possibly waking the baby up in the process, as I’ve done more than once).
-It Can Lead to Dental Problems with Prolonged Use: This is not an issue with newborns, but more if your baby is still using the binky after his or her second birthday. As the front teeth start to come in, pacifier use can cause them to slant or otherwise come in incorrectly. This can lead to numerous problems through your child’s life, from troubles with children teasing them to having to pay substantial dental bills later in life.
As you might have guessed from some of my personal notes, my daughter is currently using a pacifier, and will likely continue for many months. The SIDS elimination alone (which I did not know about upon first starting her on the pacifier use) seems like a good reason to use a pacifier for the first six months of her life. (Perhaps if we have another baby, I’ll wait a month to make sure he or she breastfeeds right.) At that point, I’ll have to re-evaluate the situation and see if it’s best to start weaning her off it, or give her until her first birthday before doing so.