December 7, 2011 | in Nanny
The subject of pacifiers has been hotly debated amongst mothers for generations; whether the risks outweigh the benefits of using a pacifier to soothe an infant is still mostly unsettled. People on both sides of the fence defend their positions passionately, and will often try to sway first-time moms into taking their advice on the matter. These reasons are among the key points that detractors use to solidify their arguments.
- Increased Risk of Ear Infections – Babies who frequently use a pacifier between the ages of six months and one year show a marked increase in rates of inner-ear infections.
- Can Interfere With Breastfeeding – The introduction of a pacifier before healthy breastfeeding patterns are established can greatly interfere with successful feeding, especially if they’re used during the first six weeks after birth.
- May Irritate Baby’s Mouth – For babies with undetected latex allergies, the latex teat of a pacifier can cause reactions and irritation. There are pacifiers available that don’t contain latex, but they’re not always clearly labeled.
- Increased Risk of Cavities – Prolonged and excessive use of a pacifier after the eruption of teeth can increase the risk of cavity formation.
- Risk of Bacteria – Harried parents can often pop a pacifier back in Baby’s mouth after it’s been dropped on the floor, which can spread germs and cause sickness.
- Choking Hazard – Certain styles of pacifier can come apart, causing small pieces to present a choking hazard for curious babies that explore by putting objects in their mouths.
- Dependence – Though a much easier habit to break than thumb-sucking, weaning a dependent child from a pacifier can be a stressful time for both parents and baby.
- Parents Can Misread Signals – Some parents can mistakenly give a crying baby a pacifier at the first sign of discomfort, when what the baby actually needs is to be fed. Because babies don’t yet understand hunger, satisfying the suck reflex can soothe them. As a result, some babies may not get the proper nutrition.
- Overuse Can Delay Speech – Toddlers that use pacifiers for the majority of the day are likely to have speech problems or delayed speech. The pacifier’s presence inhibits the movement necessary to form phonetic sounds that are the building blocks for speech.
- Future Orthodontic Problems – Children who are particularly dependent on a pacifier despite parents’ efforts to wean them run a much higher risk of problematic tooth alignment, which can lead to pricey and painful orthodontic work down the road.
Most experts do agree that the occasional use of a pacifier at bedtime or nap-time is acceptable and unlikely to cause health problems, but many parents are hesitant to introduce one at all out of a justified fear of dependency. Opting to let a child learn to soothe themselves without the help of a pacifier is perfectly healthy, and it is a decision that only the parents can make.
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