Pros

  • Lowers the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) – Some pediatricians recommend using pacifiers during sleep to prevent SIDS. Even if the child turns around in the crib, the pacifier prevents the little one from stopping to breathe.
  • An extra stimulus for preemies – Pacifiers stimulate premature babies’ suction development. It can lead to weight gain and reduce their time in the hospital.
  • Immediate comfort – It can calm babies down in pain or stressful situations triggered by agitation, irritation, or intense crying – like drawing blood, for example.

Cons

  • Sabotages breastfeeding – According to pediatricians, children who use pacifiers tend to breastfeed for shorter periods of time. This can happen because sucking on a breast is different than sucking on a pacifier. In fact, both motions use different muscles. Confused by the “difficulty” of choosing which sucking is needed, the child will cry, latch incorrectly to the mother’s breast (which can hurt), and refuse to breastfeed frequently or at all. As a consequence of not breastfeeding, milk production may get compromised. The bottle-feeding option becomes inevitable before the recommended time for it.
  • Babies get sick more often – because of fungus and bacteria that may grow in the pacifier. Please keep it clean and change it frequently.
  • Problems with teeth development – and, consequently, speech. The lack of activity of the muscles used to breastfeed can lead to poor chewing skills, speaking delay, uneven teeth alignment, and breathing.
  • Onset otitis (more frequent ear infections) – constantly sucking on a pacifier makes the muscle responsible for the auditory tube’s functioning (the channel of communication between the ear and the throat) under-stimulated. Consequently favoring earwax accumulation and ear pain and inflammation.
  • Poor socialization – According to many pediatricians, the pacifier causes the child to complain less and, consequently, communicate less.
  • Breastfeeding is the best comfort there is – The suction, the mother’s warmth, the skin-to-skin contact, the mother’s voice, and the substances present in breast milk help minimize pain and discomfort.
  • It makes it harder for parents to comprehend the child’s needs – If the parents stick the pacifier in the child’s mouth the moment they begin crying, how will they identify communication patterns?

If you decide to go with the pacifier…

Do it only after the baby is 15 days or older, and preferably only if your breastfeeding successfully. Your baby is gaining weight and latching correctly, without hurting your nipples. This reduces the likelihood that your little one will be “confused” about which way of sucking to use (nipple or pacifier sucking). Keep the pacifier for when you really need it, and remember babies cry to communicate – sticking a pacifier in their mouths as soon as they start crying is to silence their communication. Keep sporadic use of the pacifier until the child is 1 year old, then stop its use.

Read next:

+ Colics: How to deal with them?

+ 10 good reasons to breastfeed

+ The importance of caring for your child’s dental health from an early age

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