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The Pros and Cons of Using a Pacifier

It’s a common debate between parents, and often even before baby arrives. Should you use a pacifier? There are those who say yes, absolutely. And there are those who say no way! Then there are those who are just undecided, and unsure of the benefits and whether they outweigh the disadvantages. Like anything when it comes to parenting, it pays to do your research so that you can make an informed decision that you’re happy with. So this week we’re talking the pros and cons of using a pacifier- hopefully it will help you make your mind up! 

The parents who say yes

 The parents who buy pacifiers even before their baby arrives are often second time parents who know that a pacifier is a much needed essential for their baby. Or they are parents who’ve read enough to know they need to keep and open mind, and that a pacifier could be of use at some point. 

Parents who say yes to a pacifier will tell you that a pacifier helps to:

  • Calm and soothe baby when she is distressed or over tired
  • Calm and soothe babies with colic or wind
  • Soothe babies in between feeds
  • Soothe babies with reflux- the sucking produces more saliva which helps to neutralise the acid
  • Soothe babies with an intense sucking reflex

They’ll also tell you that the pacifier means that they will get a few more minutes before baby really needs their attention! This last point being of importance particularly while you’re driving and unable to provide one to one comfort for your baby. It doesn’t mean that you are neglecting her - it simply means she has another source of comfort while she waits for your undivided attention once more. 

Added benefits of using a pacifier have already been highlighted in this post, Three reasons to use a pacifier. There have been extensive studies that show links between pacifier use and prevention of SIDS and its something that many parents feel they cannot ignore. So using a pacifier means that not only is your little one gaining comfort but she is also being protected while she sleeps too. 

The parents who say no

Like anything, there are always opposing views and when it comes to pacifiers, some parents prefer to go without. Of course, that’s fine! Often arguments against using a pacifier include:

  • Nipple confusion. Some breastfed babies find it difficult to move from sucking on a teat and there is a school of thought that suggests feeding can be affected if you use a pacifier.
  • Missed feeds. Some babies could potentially find comfort from a pacifier when it’s actually time for a feed. As a result, feeding schedules could become mixed up.
  • Difficult to wean: some parents believe that getting rid of the pacifier can be a battle.

There are also parents who worry about their child’s teeth and oral development during pacifier use, and if this is your concern it does help to speak to a dentist as soon as you can. All children are different and not all issues will affect them if they use a pacifier- but it is worth considering all arguments if you’re not sure.

Making a decision

It’s not easy to make a decision when it comes your baby, because you want to do the right thing- and you want to make sure that your baby is safe and happy above all else. So while there are  clear benefits to using a pacifier, only you will know whether the disadvantages are small enough to disregard.

It can help to speak to other parents and ask their advice on pacifier use. Lots of families use guidelines to monitor the use, and they might be useful for you too. For example, you could introduce a pacifier for just a few minutes each day- enough to encourage calm and to soothe your baby for sleep or to take their temperature. Lots of babies will naturally spit out their pacifier once they are asleep, and if this is the case there is no need to pop it back in again. 

Of course, there are some babies who grow very attached to their pacifier, and if this is not an issue for you then there’s no reason to fight it. If you are concerned though, it’s best to limit use early on before your baby becomes too fond! Many dentists will tell you that prolonged pacifier use can affect the way that the teeth grow, but that early use is unlikely to be a problem. Once your baby is older and the second set of teeth are coming through, you will need to re-think things if a pacifier is still being used. Usually though, it is children who suck their thumbs who carry on for longer than is recommended. 

So is it a yes or a no?

Deciding on whether or not to use a pacifier is a personal choice. There are benefits to using one, and there are also disadvantages. It’s worth noting that the cons are easily controlled though, but at the end of the day it’s your decision. Don’t forget that you know your baby a lot better than anyone else does, and if you do decide to go for it don’t feel you need to explain yourself. Set some rules for use, and make sure that you’re happy with them. And if you decide that a pacifier is not for you, don’t sweat it. Some babies seem to need to satisfy the sucking reflex a lot more than others and if you’re able to comfort and soothe your little one in other ways then go for it. If baby is happy, you will be happy.