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Baby with Pacifier in Mouth

Benefits of Pacifiers and Tips for Introducing

Pacifiers have been used for centuries to allow babies to suckle in between feedings. But what are the benefits of pacifier use, and how do you introduce them? In this post, you will discover the benefits of pacifiers and tips for introducing and managing pacifier use with your little one. I’ll review the benefits, how to choose a pacifier, and the best way to introduce it.

Benefits of Use

Using pacifiers can provide numerous benefits for babies. Pacifiers help soothe and calm babies, providing them with a sense of comfort and security. When a baby sucks on a pacifier, it’s a nonnutritive suck, meaning they are not getting nutrition from it. This triggers the calming reflex, which, as Dr. Harvey Karp puts it, “it’s like baby meditation which can lower their heart rate, blood pressure and stress level.” A pacifier can help a fussy infant when receiving vaccinations or having a medical procedure. All of this can help reduce fussiness and help babies relax so they can fall asleep. Pacifiers can also satisfy a baby’s natural sucking reflex, which can be soothing and comforting for them. Additionally, When they are used during sleep, pacifiers have been found to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Choose the Right One

There is an endless selection of pacifiers, so how do you know which one to get? There are a few factors to consider when purchasing a pacifier. First, opt for one designed with safety and comfort in mind. Choose a pacifier that is made of BPA-free materials and easy to clean.

Pacifier Design

Next, consider the size and shape of the pacifier. Pacifiers come in different sizes, so choose one appropriate for your baby’s age and mouth size. The shield of the pacifier should be large enough to prevent it from being swallowed or lodged in your baby’s throat but not large enough to cover their nose.

Some pacifiers also come with additional features, such as orthodontic designs or built-in covers to keep them clean when not in use. Consider these features based on your baby’s individual needs and preferences. A few very popular pacifiers are:

Ultimately, the right pacifier is the one that your infant likes best.

Have a Few Pacifiers Available

Have several pacifiers on hand since they can get misplaced or dirty. Regularly inspect all pacifiers for any signs of wear or damage and replace them as needed. Remember, safety should always be a top priority when choosing a pacifier for your baby.

Introducing Pacifier Tips

If your baby could use extra comfort, then a pacifier might be the answer. Some babies will accept them without hesitation. Others may push it out with their tongue while furrowing their brow, but don’t give up just yet! Try offering your little one a pacifier while distracting them with white noise or shooshing in their ear. Pacifiers can stimulate the gag reflex in some babies. They need a little practice. My favorite tip for offering a pacifier to a baby that keeps letting it fall out is to put it in their mouth and gently start pulling it out. They will typically begin to suck harder to resist you. If you keep practicing this, your infant will learn to suck it harder all the time, and then it doesn’t fall out as often.

Managing Pacifier Use

Below are some tips for managing pacifier use.

Icing on the Cake

The Timing of Pacifier Use

Timing is key when using a pacifier. Below are some tips to help you and your little one.

  • Offer a pacifier only when your little one is headed down for a nap or at bedtime. Using the pacifier only at sleep time will keep your baby from needing it all the time. When they are very young and only awake for an hour at a time, be sure to take the pacifier with you if you’re going out. That way, if they are tired and fussy, you’ll have it with you to offer.
  • If they are sucking on a pacifier right before falling asleep, attempt to gently and slowly remove it before they fall asleep.
  • Only offer the pacifier to your baby once each time. What I mean by this is, if it falls out during the night but it is not time for a feeding, then try to comfort your baby another way. Try “shooshing” noises, putting your hand on their chest, or if they don’t settle, pick them up for a quick snuggle. If the pacifier falls out frequently throughout the night and you replace it each time, it can become a prop. They expect you to come each time to return it for them. They will then be waking up more and more frequently. And we definitely don’t want that!
  • If the pacifier falls out during the night and your baby is due for a feeding, feed them, and if necessary, give them the pacifier after the feed. Don’t offer it if they can go back to sleep without the pacifier.

Show Baby How to Replace Pacifier

As your baby gets closer to 6 months of age, they may be able to replace it themselves when it falls out. I recommend sprinkling a few glow-in-the-dark pacifiers in their crib so they can easily find one. You can help them practice putting the pacifier in their mouth during their daytime activity.

Final Words

I am a big fan of using pacifiers as long as they are used as a tool. The AAP approves of them since they can reduce SIDS. Pacifier use can become an issue if it is being offered to the baby every time they fuss. It can also become a problem with their speech development if they always have it in their mouth. They won’t be able to babble and practice all the sounds they hear. If you only allow your baby to use it when they are ready to go to sleep or overtired, it should not become a problem. I hope you have found the benefits of pacifiers and tips for introducing helpful for you and your baby.

Are you having baby sleep issues? I can help. Check out my Newborn Sleep Tip Sheet that comes with coaching services and let’s discuss your issues.

Please read some of my other blog posts to get more helpful information about your baby.

May 2, 2024


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