… This is a big question that most parents face!
There are a lot of pros and cons to using a pacifier, so let’s start with the pros:
- Research has shown that using a paci can reduce a child’s SIDS risk. Especially in the early days when SIDS risk is highest (approximately 0-4 months), this is a great reason to try a pacifier.
- Babies have an innate physical desire to suck, and a pacifier often helps to soothe them quickly. Having a pacifier handy is nice when baby is fussy or tired, and especially if you have a colicky baby.
- Pacifiers can also help sore and tired breastfeeding mamas every once in a while when they know baby is full but is nursing to soothe. It gives dad a chance to pitch in and handle the pacifier while mom takes a break.
- Pacis are great for illness, and also for teething when baby needs something to chew on with their sore little gums (again: put that in the “win” column for breastfeeding moms!)
I’m convincing you pacifiers are pretty great, right?! Now on to the cons:
- Giving a pacifier creates a habit that you will have to deal with down the road.
- If you don’t wean them off the pacifier at an age that is appropriate, it can have lasting effects on their oral health and teeth.
- Pacifiers often end up as sleep props, which can cause constant night wakings when they fall out and babies signal (read: shriek) for mom and dad to hop up and pop it back in.
Of course, for some parents this decision is made for them. We bought 10 different kinds of pacifiers for my son, and he never warmed up to it! It was tough to have less options to soothe him early on, but nice to not have to wean him off of it later.
In my opinion, the benefits of early pacifier use such as reduced SIDS risk and increased soothing capabilities outweigh the disadvantage of having to wean baby off of the pacifier later. For my clients whose babies are dependent on the pacifier as a sleep prop, I always create a customized pacifier plan for them. You can choose to slowly wean off of the pacifier over the course of a couple weeks, “rip the Band Aid off” by quitting the paci cold turkey, or you can attempt to decrease your child’s dependence on it as a prop while still keeping their beloved pacifier in their life for a little bit longer.
No matter what you choose, the most important thing to know as a parent is that you DO have choices!