How to Use a Pacifier
Pacifiers help parents and infants get through periods of crying when the infant is
either not hungry or too full to eat but still needs the comfort that sucking provides.
Pacifiers can be very helpful to parents in those early months. Pacifiers help babies
soothe themselves during periods of crying. Here are some thinks to think about as
you are deciding if and when to use a pacifier.
Pros and cons
As you are deciding on what is best for your infant, here are some possible benefits
and drawbacks of pacifier use.
Possible benefits of a pacifier:
Pacifiers can soothe a crying infant.
Reduced crying can help a parent's frayed nerves.
When an infant is nursing or sucking on a pacifier, pain can be reduced. Pacifiers
are often used during painful procedures to comfort infants.
For premature babies in the intensive care unit, pacifiers can shorten hospital stays
and help tube-fed babies learn to use a bottle.
Pacifiers reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). If you are breastfeeding,
it is recommended that you delay introducing a pacifier until breastfeeding is well
set. When an infant has returned to his or her birth weight, you are comfortable with
getting your baby latched onto the breast, and you are not concerned about your milk
supply, then it is safe to introduce a pacifier. For most mothers, this is usually
when your baby is about 3 weeks to 4 weeks old. If you have chosen to feed your infant
formula, you can introduce a pacifier immediately after your baby is born.
Possible drawbacks of a pacifier:
Affects the formation of the teeth, so that they don't meet properly, especially when
used in children older than age 2
Pacifiers may create breastfeeding difficulties, especially if introduced before breastfeeding
is well set. Pacifiers may hide feeding cues in breastfeeding babies. Feeding cues
are ways that your baby tells you that he or she is hungry. Eventually, this can affect
your milk supply. This will increase the chances that you will need to supplement
May increase the possibility of ear infection (otitis media)
How to choose a pacifier
Store display racks carry a confusing selection of pacifiers. It may help to know
that manufacturers say there are basically 2 types: orthodontic and nonorthodontic.
An orthodontic design is meant to imitate a mother's nipple and to accommodate the
baby's "tongue thrust" — the motion that strips milk from the mother's breast. The
nipple tip is typically flatter and square-shaped. Nonorthodontic pacifiers are the
older style. These have the uniform bulb tip.
Most pacifiers are made either with latex, silicon rubber, or soft plastic. Silicon
is a good choice because this material is smoother and harbors fewer germs.
Follow these tips for pacifier use:
Make sure the pacifier is a 1-piece pacifier when possible.
Avoid pacifiers with built-in gadgets, moving parts, or liquid interiors.
Use pacifiers that have sealed rather than open bases.
Never hang the pacifier on a string around the baby's neck.
Do not dip the pacifier in sugar, honey, corn syrup, or other sugary materials.
Clean the pacifier regularly. Boiling is recommended for pacifiers if the child is younger
than 6 months. An automatic dishwasher will do an adequate job of cleaning for all
Replace the pacifier if it becomes damaged, the plastic begins to crack, or the surface
breaks down into small pieces.
When your child is a year old, you may want to talk with your pediatrician about how
and when to wean your baby from using a pacifier.