Pacifiers can be miracle workers for tired parents of infants who need to suck for comfort, but you may hear other people say you should be concerned about your child's pacifier habits. To make a fully informed decision, it is important to know the pros and cons of pacifiers, taking into consideration your child's age and individual temperament.
How Pacifiers Can Help
Pacifiers provide some clear benefits for parents and their babies alike. The American Academy of Pediatrics now recommends that parents give pacifiers to children older than one month while they sleep, as some studies have shown that pacifier use may reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrom SIDS. Learn more about pacifiers and SIDS in the Colgate Oral Care resources. Pacifiers can also quiet a fussy baby, calm a tired one, and give mom or dad a much-needed break.
Before you introduce a pacifier to your child, keep the following in mind:
- You will eventually have to help your child break the habit. Studies have shown that the use of a pacifier does not negatively impact your child's dental health until sometime after his first birthday, with some sources showing no adverse affects until after age two. However, that doesn't mean that your child will be ready to give up the pacifier when it's time to wean.
- Introducing a pacifier too early can make breastfeeding more challenging. Successful breastfeeding requires your baby to learn to latch on to the nipple properly. Giving a pacifier before three to four weeks of age may cause nipple confusion and even possibly affect your milk supply.
If you have any questions or concerns about introducing a pacifier or your child's existing pacifier habits, talk to your pediatrician to see what he recommends for your particular situation.