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Using a Pacifier for Babies: Are They Really Safe?

Medically reviewed by Mae Charisse Antalan, MD · General Practitioner


Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Jul 15, 2022

Using a Pacifier for Babies: Are They Really Safe?

Most babies love sucking. Some even suck their thumbs or other fingers before they are born. Babies also tend to seek physical and emotional support from their parents when they are awake. Following this, pacifiers have a calming effect on upset and crying children. When should you use a pacifier for babies?

Pacifiers often serve as an effective substitute for the presence of parents or for soothing babies when they throw tantrums. Therefore, many parents consider them as a helpful tool to comfort their baby. But, are pacifiers really good for your little kids?

Pacifier for Babies: Pros

To some babies, pacifiers are the key to satisfaction between feedings. Here are what a pacifier can do:

  • Soothe a crying baby 
  • Distract a baby temporarily
  • Enable a baby to be independent through self-soothing
  • Encourage a baby to fall asleep
  • Relieve discomfort during flights
  • Pacifiers are believed to decrease the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).  Pacifiers are disposable and, hence, can be easily thrown away on wear and tear, or on reaching the expiration date.

    Pacifier for Babies: Cons

    Of course, pacifiers have its cons as well. Consider the drawbacks:

    • Early use of pacifiers might interfere with breastfeeding.  It usually takes some time for the baby and the new mother to get acquainted with breastfeeding. When you are introducing your baby to breastfeeding, it is often advised that you keep the pacifier away from your baby. When your baby suckles on your nipple, it stimulates your mammary glands to initiate the flow of breast milk. This makes nursing easier for the mother, and the baby too prefers breastfeeding over a pacifier. 
    • Your baby might become too dependent on the pacifier to the extent that it becomes a challenge for you to help him/her overcome the habit.
    • It might raise the risk of middle ear infections.
    • Long-term use of pacifiers might lead to dental problems.

    If you still want to give your baby a pacifier, keep these tips in mind:

    • Wait until the breastfeeding habits are well-established.
    • Do not use a pacifier as the first option to calm a baby.
    • Choose silicone one-piece, dishwasher-safe pacifiers.
    • Don’t force your baby to be comfortable with the pacifiers. Not all infants take a liking to it.
    • Keep the pacifier clean at all times. Sterilize the pacifier in boiling water every time the teat comes in contact with foreign surfaces like the floor, bed, bedside table, etc.
    • Ensure that your children do not share pacifiers. Each of your children should have one pacifier so that germs don’t get transferred from one to the other.
    • Do not coat the pacifier with sugar to prevent tooth decay and cavity over the long term.
    • Make sure that you purchase a pacifier that does not contain Bisphenol – A (BPA) as it is known for having adverse effects on infants.

    Pacifier for Babies: Do Not Give a Pacifier to Your Baby If…

    Do not give pacifiers to babies who are coping with problems related to weight gain. If a baby is facing difficulties in nursing or the new mother does not have sufficient breast milk required to nurture him/her, it is better to skip introducing the baby to a pacifier, at least for now. The same goes for babies with recurrent cases of ear infections.

    If you do not want your baby to have a pacifier at the hospital, tell the nurses in advance – especially if you plan to breastfeed. However, giving your baby a pacifier for a day or two of the pacifier will not get him/her habituated to it. However, it does not make sense for you to introduce something that you are not going to apply at home.

    Key takeaway

    There are many pros and cons to using a pacifier for babies. Pacifiers may be used to soothe a crying baby, or to encourage them to sleep. However, early use of pacifiers may interfere with breastfeeding. To learn more, consult with your doctor.

    Learn more about Baby Care here.

    Disclaimer

    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Mae Charisse Antalan, MD

    General Practitioner


    Written by Nikita Bhalla · Updated Jul 15, 2022

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