Pacifiers. They provide your little one with a soothing sense of security and may help during those long restless nights trying to get your baby to sleep! Relying on a pacifier is a great way to comfort your baby, but did you know that are also a few cons that come along with the habit? Let’s a take a look at a few pros and cons to giving your baby that loveable little pacifier:
- Soothing and Security– As said before, pacifiers are an excellent way to calm your baby and give them the rest they need as they grow into young, healthy toddlers! Some babies are comforted when sucking on a pacifier, even when they’re not hungry or feeding, so giving them the sense of protection and security can mean the difference between a fussy baby and a happy baby.
- Parental Control– Unlike with thumb-sucking, as a parent, you’ll be able to control how much your baby relies on comforting habit; thus, it makes it easier when the time comes to wean your baby off of the pacifier!
- Reduces the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)– Studies show that babies who suck on pacifiers during naptime lower the risk of SIDS.
- Breaking the Habit- Once begun, it can be really difficult to break the habit of relying on a pacifier to go to bed or to self-soothe. To combat this, it’s recommended that you wean your baby off of the pacifier after your child reaches the ages of 6 to 12 months old.
- Ear Infections- When your child sucks on a pacifier, the sucking promotes fluid collection in the ears thus leading to ear infections. According to a study published in Pediatrics, pacifiers were the cause of 25 percent of ear infections in babies.
- Dental Problems- Sucking on pacifiers after the recommended age can cause the upper front teeth to tip toward the lip or not come in properly. Over a period of time, the habit can even affect the way your child bites, the teeth alignment, or disrupt jaw placement. Research shows that prolonged pacifier use past the age of two is more likely to cause a dental malocclusion called a posterior crossbite which is extremely detrimental for your child’s growing teeth.
In conclusion, pacifiers can be a great tool for you and your child to calm and self-soothe in moderation and when properly monitored. Dr. Porter and Dr. Buddy generally recommend the use of a pacifier for children under that age of two that are showing signs of having a sucking habit. With that being said, we recommend ceasing a pacifier habit at age 2 by weaning the child off of the pacifier to prevent dental problems and minimize ear infections.
It’s also important to maintain and schedule your baby’s dental appointments to best monitor their sucking habits. Dr. Porter and Dr. Buddy will examine your child’s occlusion at every 6 month check-up to make sure that habits are not causing any long term problems with tooth eruption or jaw development. By following these simple steps and taking into account the pros and cons of a pacifier, please use your best judgement as a parent to giving your child a pacifier!