Home Baby Pacifier: When to start and how long

Pacifier: When to start and how long

by Ines Wurbs

Pacifiers, teats, and teats should exclusively be used from the 3rd to 4th week of the life of the child. This is because the baby has to learn how to suck on the breast first. In addition, the breast needs to be stimulated to start producing milk. If you don’t breastfeed, the same applies. Because a feeding teat’s sucking behavior is different from that of a pacifier. 

Why do babies like pacifiers?

The pacifier or teat has only one reason, which is very well described in the English term. The baby is calmed down with a “pacifier” or “sedative”. This gives us parents a little breathing room. Because babies can be very stressful for new parents, especially in the early days. It doesn’t help when veteran parents say, “Enjoy it, time goes by far too fast.” 

In summary, the pacifier provides a little support and freedom to new parents. But that’s not a bad thing. The pacifier also offers other, indirect benefits, but it also has disadvantages. Here are the pros and cons of using pacifiers.

Before the pacifier is put in

Before we put the pacifier in, we need to make sure the baby’s other needs are met:

  • Is the baby hungry?
  • Do you need to change the diaper?
  • Would it be possible to calm the child through other means (care, physical contact, going for a walk, singing, or rhythmic rocking)?
  • Is it exposed to harsh or uncomfortable stimuli?

Also, the following points should be noted.

  • It is not a good idea to use the pacifier as a breast substitute.
  • If the baby doesn’t like the pacifier, it shouldn’t be forced on it.
  • It is recommended that the pacifier be used as little as possible.

The disadvantages of pacifiers are:

Firstly, I outline the potential downsides of pacifiers. Not to make pacifiers look bad, but to help make sure we don’t “talk ourselves out” about the good things pacifiers can do. 

If the pacifier is used carefully, this is usually not a problem.

Too early and frequent use of pacifiers increases the risk of non-nutritive sucking

If the teat is used too frequently, the risk of non-nutritive sucking on the mother’s breast increases. Because the breast is not stimulated enough, milk production is not fully developed. This can prohibit breastfeeding.

Pacifiers increase the risk of middle ear infections

In a study, doctors found out that the use of pacifiers can increase the risk of middle ear infections by up to 27%. 

Pacifiers can affect the position of a baby’s jaw

The use of pacifiers in early childhood can have a negative impact on jaw position and speech formation. Several studies have now shown that the use of pacifiers after the age of two can cause the jaw to misalign

The benefits of pacifiers are as follows:

Apart from having a calming effect, using the pacifier also has a few advantages. Even if we use the pacifier sparingly, it is like using medicine. The amount of poison makes the poison. Pacifiers, when used properly, can have the following advantages:

The use of pacifiers may have a protective effect against sudden infant death syndrome.

meta-study found that the use of pacifiers when falling asleep can have a positive effect on protection against sudden infant death syndrome. Officially, however, it is recommended to breastfeed the child. The study found that this protection was especially evident in weaning babies. 

The Pacifier should be used only to help your baby fall asleep and should never be forced on it. If it falls out, you should not put it back in the mouth. 

It is not yet fully understood why it protects against SIDS. The theory is that the pacifier helps to create more space around the mouth and nose, so the baby has enough oxygen to breathe. 

Pacifiers are better than thumb sucking

Babies need to suckle and they do so in one way or another. Here, the pacifier has the advantage of being in the parents’ control (unlike the thumb, for example). We are responsible for whether we pull the plug. This can, of course, cause violent protests. Breaking the habit of pacifiers is easier than sucking your thumb.

Babies can learn to soothe themselves by using pacifiers

The pacifier helps our children learn how to soothe themselves when they are not near their mother. This also applies to other items such as a blanket or a stuffed animal.

What can be done instead of using pacifiers?

The best alternative to a pacifier is the mother’s breast. Breast milk or the need to suckle can be satisfied here. But I know from my own experience that this can get tiring eventually. 

A cosy blanket or stuffed animal can also be helpful. Our darling can snuggle up, and the corners can be sucked.

Of course, if we want to calm the baby or toddler, we can use any of our parenting skills:

  • Sleep aids, which simulate the heartbeat, generate white noise, or project light, have a calming effect on the children and, as the name suggests, help them fall asleep.
  • Carry the baby in a sling or carry the baby without a sling and sing to the baby.
  • Use a stroller/crib/seesaw to put the child in.  
  • Walk in the fresh air.
  • As an alternative to walking, a short drive often helps.

In general, however, caution should be exercised with the alternatives. Some parents spend hours pacing at night or taking unwanted car trips to soothe their little ones.

Babies and small children usually find peace and feel safe by having regular rituals. So, come up with a ritual that works best for you and your child. If you like to drive, this is a practical alternative. It also frees up time for an audiobook.

How can I wean my child off the pacifier?

I think that the pacifier should be weaned from the 6th month of life, but not later than the 2nd year of life. Between these two dates, recommendations vary. After age two, there is a greater risk of problems such as jaw malformations or language development problems. Therefore, this point should be considered the latest point.

The most effective method is to stop abruptly. At this moment, this is causing the greatest resistance. In the end, though, the adjustment happens quickly. If you are the type to endure this, I can recommend this approach.

Alternatively, you could remove the pacifier slowly. The first step is to make the pacifier only available for bed or during a nap. Afterward, this is only used for evening bedtime. That helps to spread the frustration. The weaning process takes place gradually.

Some parents and children find it helpful to give away the pacifier on special occasions. Santa Claus or the “pacifier fairy” can pick up the pacifier. The pacifier can be exchanged for a birthday present, or it can be given to a newborn baby. Of course, this is only a symbol for the child.

No matter what strategy is used. The following rules apply: We parents must help our children make this decision. Some children take it easy, and for others, the world collapses around them. Accordingly, we have to be strong and stay strong. The stronger the connection to the chewing device, the more it is a sign that there should be a change.

Use of a pacifier: A conclusion

For us parents, the pacifier can be a big help. It is pleasant for breastfeeding mothers if the child does not suckle at the breast for half the day. Or as a quick way to fall asleep, the pacifier can sometimes be a lifesaver for parents.

 M. Furtenbach summed it up nicely in his article: A pacifier should be regarded as a medicine.

It is important to know if:

  1. The pacifier is the right remedy.
  2. How long the pacifier should be used,
  3. when it needs to be weaned and
  4. that it can cause side effects.

But it can be said that the use of a pacifier is unproblematic if it is used in moderation.

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