Many parents have relied on the use of a pacifier to calm and soothe their baby during their fussy times. Making sure that your baby is comfortable is your top priority, and a lot of dads and moms have found the pacifier to be very helpful in doing this. Although some babies are easily calmed by rocking or cuddling, there are those who just can’t get enough of sucking even after their feeding. This is when a pacifier seems to be beneficial because it satisfies their sucking reflex. The question is: how early can you give your baby a pacifier?
While a pacifier can be a baby’s source of comfort, it may also cause problems with breastfeeding. Giving your little one an artificial nipple while they are still learning how to latch may lead to nipple confusion. This is a condition experienced by babies who are introduced to feeding bottles or pacifiers very early, and so they become uncomfortable when feeding from the breast. This then interferes with successful breastfeeding and usually results in a decrease in the breasts’ milk supply.
This is why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that a baby should first be able to nurse well before being given any kind of artificial nipple. Once breastfeeding is going smoothly, that is, baby knows how to latch properly to the nipple already, and mother’s milk supply is established, you are clear to give a pacifier. Normally, this will occur about four to six weeks after birth.
How Early Can I Give My Baby a Pacifier? Answer: About 4-6 Weeks
It is understandable that comforting your baby is a priority. However, their nutrition must be your top priority. A newborn needs mother’s milk as their complete source of nutrition, especially in their first few months. This means that for a mother’s milk supply to be established for the following months, frequent suckling on the breast must be done by the baby. This does not only establishes milk production, it also trains the baby to nurse well. Giving a pacifier while the baby is still learning to latch may interfere with the breastfeeding process. Thus, it is best to introduce artificial nipples around four to six weeks after birth, when baby is observed to be good at sucking on the breast already.
How a Pacifier Can Save Lives
It is true that a pacifier can calm a baby who wants to satisfy their natural sucking reflex. But this is not the only advantage it has. Research suggests that pacifier use may reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) of up to 61 percent, according to Dr. Fern Hauck, MD, from the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville, Virginia. The exact cause of SIDS is still unknown, but latest medical research has shown an association between lowered risks of this known syndrome and pacifier use.
Other Benefits of Pacifier Use
More than just the comfort a pacifier gives, it also serves as a temporary distraction at certain times. A lot of parents find a pacifier to be just the right tool when it comes to baby’s blood tests, immunization shots, and other procedure. It may also help a hard-to-settle baby fall asleep because of the soothing feeling it brings. Many also say that compared to thumb-sucking, the use of the pacifier is easier to control.
Unlike the thumb, a pacifier is disposable and you can easily get rid of it when you think it is time for your baby to stop. Most of all, a pacifier just simply makes a baby feel good and happy. This is because sucking stimulates the release of hormones from the brain that actually reduce stress.
Disadvantages of Pacifiers
Experts have observed that the use of the pacifier has been associated with increased risk of middle ear infections in babies. Pacifier use can also be addictive, causing your baby to depend on it too much. Some babies who have become attached to their pacifiers wake up a lot of times in the middle of the night when their binkies fall out their mouth. Also, too much use of this artificial nipple might result to problems in your child’s dental development. Some have resulted to cavities, gum recession, and crooked teeth.