Your Baby's Binky: The Pros and Cons

A binky, also known as a pacifier, has been a comforting tool for babies for the generations. Sucking is a natural way for babies to comfort themselves. Infants have an innate need to suck and whether you are breastfeeding or using a baby bottle, there is that in-between time where a pacifier comes in handy. A baby's first sensory contact with the world is through the lips, mouth, and tongue. Some mothers feel that using a pacifier is a crutch, but if this device helps to calm a fussy baby, it can be very useful.

Types of Pacifiers

Some babies are particular about what type pacifier they use. Try a few until you find the one your baby likes best.

A one-piece pacifier can be made of molded silicone or a combination of materials, such as plastic, latex, and silicone. The silicone type is sturdy and not easily destroyed by baby's first teeth. It's also easy to clean and doesn't retain odors. On the other hand, latex is softer and preferred by some little ones, but easier to chew through. It's not wise to buy ones with a liquid filled nipple. If you child bites through it, the liquid is messy and could be toxic, as well.

Pacifiers come in every color you can think of. There are even glow-in-the-dark ones, so you can find them at night. Make sure they can be cleaned in the dishwasher or boiled for sanitation. A pacifier should be at least 1.5 inches in width to avoid choking, and never tie a pacifier to a ribbon around the baby's neck.

A Pacifier Versus Thumb Sucking

Some babies reject a rubber pacifier and go straight for the thumb, once they find it. Pacifiers do not prevent thumb sucking, but may delay it. Sometimes, a longer feeding time will satisfy the child and the need for sucking, so they may not want or need the pacifier or thumb in between. Other babies need that comforting feeling a lot longer during the day. Caregivers should remove the pacifier or thumb, if possible, from the baby's mouth after they have fallen asleep.

Most youngsters will give up the binky between the ages of two or three; thumbs sometimes longer. Either way, pediatric dentists recommend weaning a child off of sucking as soon as possible. An overbite, where the front teeth protrude, can develop if a child keeps sucking after the age of six, when adult teeth begin to erupt.

Orthodontic pacifiers with a flat bottom and rounded top nipple are available. These were designed to prevent dental issues later in life. But, it's still a good idea to get your child to give up their pacifier sooner rather than later.

Learn more about pacifiers in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

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