What’s the best way to stop my child’s use of a pacifier?
One of the first major decisions a parent has to make is when to do away with your little one’s pacifier. A pacifier is appropriately named – it pacifies children, comforts them and prevents public tantrums, and helps them relax if they are in distress or sleepy. In the early stages pacifiers may prove to be very beneficial to your little one. However, children must eventually learn to self-soothe without the help of the pacifier.
Pros and Cons of the Pacifier
Pro: Pacifiers have been shown to help aid in pain and anxiety prevention in newborns and infants younger than six months who undergo minor procedures (i.e. immunizations, venipuncture).
Pro: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, giving pacifiers to babies at nap time and bedtime for the first year can help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Pros/Cons: Pacifiers may decrease the chance of cavities. However, if used too long, pacifiers can cause teeth and mouth problems. Babies and toddlers are constantly growing and maturing physically, and their jaws grow around anything held inside their mouths on an extended and repetitive basis. Avoid these side effects by weaning your child off the pacifier by the age of two.
Cons: Pacifiers may increase the risk of middle ear infections in babies and young children. However, these infections are less common in young babies. Avoid this side effect by weaning your child from the pacifier between 6 and 12 months of age.
Cons: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, pacifiers may result in complications with breastfeeding. Experts suggest waiting to introduce your infant to the pacifier until he or she is approximately one month old if you breastfeed.
Overall, research suggest pacifiers may be beneficial to newborns and young infants but can cause problems if used too long.
When purchasing a pacifier, use the following guidelines set by the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Find a one-piece model with a soft nipple
- The pacifier shield should be made of firm plastic with air holes, and should measure at least one inch so your infant can’t swallow it
- Never tie a pacifier around your baby’s hand, neck, or crib rail; the ties are a strangulation risk
- Use dishwasher-safe pacifiers and clean them using the dishwasher until your infant is six months. After six months, repeatedly wash their pacifier in hot soapy water
- Make sure the pacifier is the correct size for your child’s age. Pacifiers are available in two sizes: 0-6 months and six months and above.
- Do not use a bottle nipple and ring in place of a pacifier - the nipple can separate from the ring and result in a choking hazard.
Weaning your child off the pacifier
There are several different methods to wean your child off the pacifier. Every child is different and the key to success varies from child to child. Consider the following methods:
- Sooner than later - To break the habit, doctors recommend taking the pacifier away early. Babies can be fussy, so taking the binky away when your infant is too young to express displeasure may prove to be beneficial.
- Go cold turkey - As the parent, you know if your infant is ready and able to handle this method.
- Unpleasant taste - One recommended approach is to use a safe, bad tasting product and put it on the pacifier. If your infant isn’t a fan of lemons, a little lemon juice on the pacifier will end the habit.
- Trade it in - If your child is old enough to understand, allow them to trade their pacifier in for an age-appropriate gift.
- Leave it for the binky fairy - Allow this magical creature to help your little one become pacifier free overnight. Reward them in the morning with a special treat from the ‘binky fairy.’
The pacifier is a helpful tool to managing your child’s behavior and helping them develop when used appropriately. When used for too long, it can cause problems for your child. Always discuss any health concerns you may have with your child’s pediatrician.
Visit abcquality.org to learn more about child care and development, search for a child care provider and learn about the state’s voluntary quality rating system. ABC Quality is administered by the SC Department of Social Services’ Division of Early Care and Education.
By ABC Quality Team at 30 Oct 2018, 11:00 AM