The Pros and Cons of Pacifiers

The Pros and Cons of Pacifiers

By Lisa Pecos

For many new parents, the pacifier is a lifesaver. Not only is it quick and simple, but it also seems to do a better job of stopping the baby’s crying than virtually anything else. After hours of rocking, cuddling, and singing with no reprieve in the baby’s crying, having that pacifier on hand can be a great relief. Yet even though pacifiers work quite well for many children, there are some potential drawbacks that parents should be aware of. In the end, pacifiers are great as a short-term solution to baby’s crying, but they should be used with caution.

Pacifiers and breastfeeding

There is much still-emerging science about whether the use of pacifiers is connected to troubles with breastfeeding. It is clear from the studies that babies who use pacifiers often are more likely to give up on breastfeeding earlier than is recommended for health reasons. The theory behind this is that the baby comes to confuse the pacifier with the nipple and hence breastfeeds with less gusto (because she has already been sucking on the pacifier). But the relationship could be the other way around; it could be that babies who have trouble breastfeeding for other reasons are simply more likely to enjoy pacifiers.

In any case, it is safest to be conservative with your pacifier use early on in the child’s life so that he or she can get used to breastfeeding and find a routine. If the baby has trouble gaining weight, it might be a sign that she needs less pacifier time so that breastfeeding will be more satisfying. Later, as you begin introducing other things into the child’s diet, this pacifier-related concern will disappear.

The easy solution

Another potential drawback of pacifiers is that they are just too easy. Some parents come to rely on the pacifier in lieu of other solutions to the baby’s crying. Instead of rocking, singing, or strolling to calm the baby, they shun these solutions entirely and go straight to the pacifier. This is understandable, but there are some obvious reasons why it may be a bad idea. Most important, it cheats the parents and the baby out of some important bonding time. Whenever possible, cuddling and rocking the baby should always be tried first. Only if these do not work should the pacifier be considered.

Meanwhile, overuse of the pacifier may create a potentially troublesome habit. If the only way the child can be happy and calm is if she has a pacifier in her mouth, this could create a problem in the future when she is too old to continue using it. This often leads to problems with finger and thumb sucking later on.

Breaking the habit

Pacifiers are harmless when they are used as short-term solutions to unstoppable crying. But they should be used in moderation. The good news about pacifiers is that they are completely in the parents’ control. If the child has a strong sucking impulse, the pacifier is better than fingers, thumbs, or fists, which are in the baby’s control. The pacifier habit is better than a finger-sucking habit because the parents can take it away at any time. And later, when it is time for the child to quit using the pacifier, the parents can gradually break him of the habit by giving it to him a little less every day.


Finally, another good thing about pacifiers is that they seem to reduce the risk of SIDS when used at night and during naps. So even if you are reluctant to give your child the pacifier during the day, do not be afraid to provide it for her at night when she is sleeping. It is certainly not needed, though-the lowered risk of SIDS is quite minimal-so there is no reason to force your child to sleep with it, and do not worry if it falls out of her mouth.

Lisa Pecos is a wife and well accomplished writer on natural remedies and natural approaches to family health. She’s written numerous articles for Natural Health, Parenting and Baby Care

This article was submitted by a guest blogger!!

1 Comment

  1. Laura Lane
    November 4, 2012 / 9:59 pm

    At least you can take a pacifier away. My child sucked her thumb for far longer than she should have.

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