Can babies sleep with a pacifier?
Many new parents often see their little ones sucking their thumbs through a pacifier. Some people think pacifiers are bad for babies. Some people think pacifiers are good for babies. So, is it better to use a pacifier or to let your baby suck on his or her own fingers? What are the pros and cons of using a pacifier? How should I use a pacifier?
The decision of using a pacifier or not depends on your baby. Parents should consider the do's and don'ts of using a pacifier for their baby and how to help their baby kick the habit at a later stage.
1. Why do babies like sucking pacifiers?
Many infants have a sucking reflex. They even suck their thumbs or fingers before birth. They explore the environment and learn about themselves by sucking on their fingers, which also can enhance the stimulation of smell, touch, and taste. Sucking a pacifier not only can provide your baby nourishment but also have a soothing, calming effect.
Babies are in the “oral stage” from birth to about one year old. Babies get comfort and security by sucking.
Babies suck breast milk or formula to get the feeling of fullness. On the other hand, they also want to get oral satisfaction by sucking a pacifier at other times. Sucking a pacifier helps make babies feel familiar and safe and also can calm their anxiety.
In addition, sometimes babies are not satisfied with the feeding when the feeding is done in an improper way, in a poor position, or uncomfortable. They want to find another way to get the satisfaction of sucking. A pacifier can meet their needs.
2. advantages and disadvantages of pacifiers
1) soothe a fussy baby
Babies will get happiness and satisfaction while sucking the pacifier. If your baby is not hungry or sleepy, then he is irritable. Using a pacifier can help soothe and calm the baby.
2) distract the baby temporarily
Four months old babies are especially irritable before the turning-over period. At this stage, he can not find other ways to distract his attention except sucking a pacifier. After this time, the baby can distract his attention by playing with or turning over. Some babies after four months old rarely use the pacifier. In short, the baby's mood also becomes stable.
3) help babies to fall asleep easily
Most babies have a sucking reflex and a need to suck. Sucking not only can calm your baby but also can allow him to exert his energy. For babies under four months old who can not turn over by themselves, sucking and crying are their main exercises. Some babies are born with a high need to suck and are called “sucky babies.”
The pacifier is a really good invention. Because it separates the need to suck from the need to breastfeed, and it also can replace the mother's nipples by soothing the baby without causing overfeeding.
Babies always will cry before bedtime. One of the benefits of a pacifier is that it can stop your baby from crying quickly. Besides, the baby also can release his excess energy and go to sleep by sucking a pacifier.
4) decrease the risk of SIDS
SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) is one of the killers of infants under age one. Using a pacifier during sleep may help prevent babies from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The risk of SIDS is also lower for breastfed babies. The reasons why a pacifier reduces the risk of SIDS are still not clear. Pacifiers can be used during naps and bedtime for babies who are up to six months after birth. If the pacifier falls out during sleep, there is no need to put it back. If your baby refuses to use a pacifier, do not force them to accept it.
There are some other measures that can help reduce the risk of SIDS:
● Put your baby to sleep on his or her back.
● Avoid placing pillows or stuffed toys around your baby to prevent suffocation.
● Let your baby sleep in his crib alone. Wear your baby a suitable sleep sack.
1) affect the misalignment of teeth
The first two years of use will not cause dental problems. But if the baby uses a pacifier for too long, like more than two years. It will affect the misalignment of teeth.
2) sucking a pacifier is highly addictive
It is really hard to quit once your baby becomes addicted to the pacifier. Sucking is an unconditioned reflex that babies are born with and will fade away over time. A baby who can be addicted to a pacifier may lack his mother's care and companionship.
Pacifiers are only designed to meet your baby's sucking needs. Newborns need a mom's attention, soothing, and a close relationship to build a sense of security.
3. do's and don'ts of using a pacifier
3.1 do not let your baby have “nipple confusion.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents don’t let their baby have “nipple confusion.” It can affect milk supply and breastfeeding. People can give their breastfed babies the pacifier during daytime naps and nighttime sleep.
3.2 do not give your baby the pacifier when he is hungry
Only use the pacifier if you are sure your baby is not hungry, such as after a feeding. So that the pacifier does not interfere with feeding.
3.3 do not force your baby to use the pacifier
Not every baby likes the pacifier. If your baby doesn’t like it, do not force him to use it.
3.4 do not put the pacifier around your baby’s neck
Do not wrap the pacifier around your baby's crib or hang it around your baby's neck or hands. It is very dangerous and can cause serious injury to your baby and may even threaten his life.
3.5 do not let the pacifier create a dependency on your baby
If your baby has a dependency on a pacifier, the problem is that it's really difficult for him to quit later.
3.6 do not spread the pacifier with sugar
Do not spread the pacifier with sugar. If you put honey or other sweet foods on the pacifier, it is easy to cause your baby to have tooth decay.
3.7 read the information on the label carefully before buying the pacifier
When parents are buying a pacifier for their babies, they should read the information on the label carefully and choose a fit and suitable one.
3.8 clean the pacifier every day
Pacifiers need to be cleaned every day. For babies under six months old, when buying a pacifier, choose one that can be boiled and disinfected.
3.9 prepare some spare
Prepare a few spare pacifiers and keep them in a handy place.
4. How to clean the pacifier?
Before first use, put the pacifier in boiling water for about five minutes. Squeeze out any water that may remain on the nipple of the pacifier after it has cooled down before using it on your baby.
Clean the pacifier with warm water before each use.
To ensure safety, please sterilize the pacifier if you think the water is not safe enough.
If your baby is less than three months old, parents usually should sterilize the pacifier more frequently.
5. When to wean your baby off the pacifier
In general, parents can begin to consider weaning their babies off the pacifier after their babies are one year old. The American Academy of Pediatrics believes that using a pacifier before the age of one will not affect the development of the baby’s teeth or mouth. But as babies get older, they can crawl, stand, walk, and communicate with language. Sucking the pacifier may affect their oral development and dental alignment.
6. How to stop pacifier use?
6.1 try reducing daytime use
You can let your baby use the pacifier only at bedtime, which can help speed up the process of weaning off the pacifier.
6.2 stop pacifier use at night gradually
Stop pacifier use in the middle of the night gradually when you are trying to put your baby back to sleep.
6.3 divert your baby’s attention
If your baby is really dependent on the pacifier, you can reduce the frequency and length of time he sucks on it gradually.
For example, you can try to keep the pacifier out of your baby’s sight during the day and arrange for your baby to play with toys or games to distract him from the pacifier.
6.4 give your baby some encouragement and rewards
When the baby has adjusted to a longer period of time without a pacifier, it is time to consider stopping use. At this time, parents can give their babies a special reward or celebration for encouragement.
6.5 company babies more
Babies always lack security. Parents should try their efforts to company their babies and give them a feeling of safety. The best gift for your babies is to be with them more often.