As parents to a newborn, you always want your child to be comfortable. Many parents find giving pacifiers to be very useful. They use to help keep their baby calm. Babies who want to suckle even when they are not hungry, are often given pacifiers.
Breastfeeding and pacifiers
Pacifiers are best avoided for your baby, especially in infants. If your baby is breastfeeding, it can lead to nipple confusion. When given from an early age it can interfere with successful breastfeeding.
Introducing pacifiers before your baby has got the knack of nursing is not a good idea. This leads to increased chances of nipple confusion. Continued use can make it into a habit for your baby. This has many drawbacks, including health and dental concerns.
What is the ideal age to give your baby pacifiers?
There is no accurate age for introducing pacifiers. Some parents start it as soon as 1 month after birth. In other cases, doctors have warned against use in children below 40 days of age. It is best to wait until your breastfeeding infant is good at nursing, before you introduce the pacifier. This way, there is less chance of nipple confusion.
Why should pacifiers be avoided in breastfed babies?
Introducing pacifiers to your baby from early days can result in many things. Firstly, it can lead to nipple confusion. When your baby is still learning to nurse properly, the introduction of the pacifier can confuse him or her. The different actions needed for suckling the breast and sucking on a pacifier can be very confusing when your baby is learning to breastfeed. This can result in improper breastfeeding. Which in turn can lead to your baby not getting adequate nutrition.
It is also a non-nutritive habit. It can lead to other harmful sucking habits later on in life including thumb/digit sucking. There are no nutritional benefits of using a pacifier. On the contrary, it can actually lead your baby to receive inadequate nutrition due to improper breastfeeding.
Read more: Foods to Avoid While Breastfeeding Your Baby
Pacifiers are difficult to clean. This attracts germs and pathogens that can easily enter into your little one’s body. These microbes in your baby’s oral cavity can make him or her suffer from stomach issues. They are also more likely to pick up dirt and germs from the surfaces that they come in contact with.
The constant thrust of the pacifier on your baby’s growing teeth can lead them to protrude forwards. This is due to the force exerted on your baby’s teeth by the constant sucking motion of the pacifiers. Use of pacifiers at the time of teeth eruption should be particularly avoided due to this reason. Another dental issue associated with use of pacifiers is that of improper teeth spacing. Continued use of pacifiers in babies can also result in lisps in your baby.
Earlier, pacifiers were also associated with glassiness. This is caused by the excess air entering into your baby’s stomach due to sucking on these constantly. Glassiness is a great cause of concern to infants. It causes a lot of discomfort to your baby. However, these days the ergonomic design of the pacifiers has nearly removed this worry.
There have been a number of studies conducted that show positive connection between ear infections in babies and the use of pacifiers. In infants it can be a particular cause for concern. Ear infections can make your baby cranky and uncomfortable.
In countries experiencing extreme cold climates, babies are generally wrapped tightly. This leads to increased cases of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). However, studies have shown that use of pacifiers in babies is successful in bringing down the incidents of such deaths. The study was conducted in babies sleeping on their stomach.
How can I manage my breastfed baby’s pacifier use?
Regardless of the drawbacks of giving your breastfed baby pacifiers, many moms are compelled to do so. This maybe due to a number of reasons. In most cases judicious and monitored use is acceptable. This will help fulfill your baby’s sucking needs without him or her making it into an unhealthy habit. To make sure your baby does not form a habit, you can aim to discontinue use once he or she is one year old.
Once you have decided to introduce the pacifier, it is a good idea to keep a few points in mind. We have given below a few things that you should do to successfully manage your baby’s pacifier use.
Read more: Tips to Reduce the Use of Pacifiers
Don’t give your baby a pacifier during nap-time
Giving the pacifier to your breastfed baby during nap-time is more likely to make it a sustained habit. Try to comfort your fussy baby before nap-time with gentle hugs and cuddling. Singing a lullaby and patting them lightly can also be a good idea. However, if your baby does fall asleep with the pacifier in his or her mouth you can let it be. In case it falls out during sleep, don’t put it back in.
Avoid using pacifiers to delay feeding times
Don’t use a pacifier as substitute to help delay breastfeeding times. This will lead to great nipple confusion in your baby. It is better to offer the pacifier between your baby’s feeding times. This way they are less likely to fill up with air and refuse meals. However, in certain circumstances, it becomes necessary to do this. But make sure this doesn’t become the norm.
Don’t force the pacifier on your breastfed baby
If you have decided to introduce the pacifier to your baby, it is fine. However, let your baby have a say in this as well. In case he or she doesn’t immediately take to it, when introduced first, let it be. Never force pacifiers on your baby. If absolutely necessary, you can always try introducing it at a later stage.
Don’t tie pacifier cords to your baby’s necks or to the crib
A breastfeeding baby is very delicate. You need to be extra careful with everything you expose him or her to during this time. That is why it is very important to remember this point. Your baby has the risk of choking with the cord if it is kept in this manner.
Do not put your baby’s pacifier in your mouths
Many parents have the habit of “cleaning” their breastfed baby’s pacifiers by placing it in their mouths first. On the contrary, you will be exposing your infant to even more germs this way. Research has shown that an adult’s saliva contains certain bacteria that can cause great harm to babies. Breastfed infants have low immunity to such bacteria and can fall ill easily. The bacteria present in adult saliva can also cause cavities in your infant’s teeth.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to using pacifier in breastfed babies. Some doctor suggest holding off until your baby is older to introduce it. However, the key lies in moderation. You need to let your baby suck on the pacifier wisely.
Monitor how much time your breastfed baby spends sucking on the pacifier. You can alternate the use of pacifiers with letting your baby suck on their hands. This way their need to suck will be satisfied without them growing dependent on pacifiers.