Why I WON'T be Giving My Kid a Pacifier - And Why You Might Not Want To Either
Have you ever been at a park and you see a child toddling around, happy as a clam having the best time. And then you notice that in that child's mouth is a pacifier? Probably not. We've been conditioned to see pacifiers as a normal childhood object. I, however, DO notice said pacifier and my first thought is "What in the world is this child being pacified from?!?!" Because that is the point of a pacifier, right? To literally 'pacify' a child. But I've seen plenty of kids, with pacifiers idly hanging out of their mouths when they're playing, relaxing, coloring - all things that don't really require the "quelling of anger or agitation" as Websters would say.
Most parents immediately offer their newborn a pacifier however The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends offering a pacifier to your child only AFTER one month old. This is to reduce the risk of nipple confusion, interference with breastfeeding, and a reduction of hunger in newborns. A baby sucking is a form of soothing, however, it's also a sign of eating and when your baby is constantly sucking on a pacifier, their brain is getting the signal that they're chowing down - even when they're not. We all know that a newborns main job is to eat so if they're not expressing an interest in feeding, a pacifier is a likely culprit.
Your Little Ones teeth and mouth development are also at risk - especially with prolonged use. Pacifiers can cause dental malocclusion, or rather, an over or under bite which is something that will last long after all those baby teeth have fallen out. I've also witnessed first hand several children who have had speech issues with prolonged pacifier use. It's really hard to imitate, talk, and make useful sounds when you have something obstructing your mouth! Parents should also know that pacifier use has been linked to acute otitis media - or rather, middle ear infections. If your child suffers from these frequently, you might consider cutting the pacifier habit. Parents should also constantly be checking pacifiers for mold. Children who use them are at higher risk of infections. We've all seen the horrible pictures online where a parent has cut open a pacifier to discover is riddled with mold. Gross!
I pulled this first pic off pinterest - sure the babies are adorable and yay! a plush toy to "soothe" a child more but that toy is almost the size of the baby and considering your baby is tiny to begin with, that's a HUGE toy to be hanging from your child's mouth! Even with older kids, the amount of grip that it requires to crawl and walk while essentially holding onto a stuffed animal with your mouth would give anyone jaw and teeth issues, not to mention a developing child. If your child's pacifiers look like this - please throw it away immediately! That's mold.
I believe that with most things involving child rearing, we've gone too far with too little education. Pacifier use starts out immediately due to society and then it kinda takes root because the child becomes dependent and so does the parent! I've seen plenty of instances when a parent has used a pacifier to pacify themselves in a tough situation! I understand it can be easier to stick something in your child's mouth to stop the tantrum but if your child is old enough to be having a tantrum (and old enough to walk and talk and tell you what's bothering them) then you might want to rethink your approach. Both the The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians recommend weaning children from pacifiers in the second six months of life. That means by the time your child is one, you should be thinking about saying bye-bye to the Binky.
Before the mob comes after me, I do want to state that there are positive effects of using a pacifier. After breastfeeding has been established and before the age of one, pacifiers were found to help reduce SIDS! This means though that pacifiers are found to be beneficial only when sleeping - not for when a child is playing or out and about! In newborns and infants less than 6 months, pacifiers were also found to help ease pain when undergoing minor medical procedures.
Personally, the good does not outweigh the bad when it comes to pacifiers. It's not worth the effort of trying to wean my child after only 11 months of use - that's a lot of trouble for not that much benefit. If you do choose to use a pacifier though, remember to introduce it after a month and when good eating habits have been established. Best use is at night when you're not able to constantly check on your child. Most importantly, wean your child off the pacifier at about one year of age in order to reduce ear infections, establish good speech development, and to help your child have a winning smile. Without a pacifier constantly in their mouth, you'll be able to see that happy grin even better!
Scared of weaning your child off the beloved pacifier? Don't worry - I got you! Tomorrow we'll be chatting about how to safely wean your child off, hopefully without too many meltdowns along the way.
What are your thoughts on pacifiers? Do you feel like you were totally in the dark about the pros and cons?