As a new parent, comforting your baby is one of your highest priorities, so you might wonder: is it ok to help soothe a cranky infant with a pacifier? You may find that using a pacifier or binky with your baby is very helpful, especially when your infant is fussy. For instance, if she wants to suck, even after she's had her fill of breast milk or formula, a pacifier might be the perfect thing! It's important to note that a binky is NOT a substitute for nurturing or feeding, but if you've fed, burped, cuddled, rocked, and played with your little one and she's STILL fussy, a pacifier may help. After all, it's not called a "pacifier" for nothing! There's another benefit to using a pacifier, too. Studies have shown that babies who use pacifiers at bedtime and naptime have a reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS. These studies don't show that the pacifier ITSELF prevents SIDS, just that there's a strong correlation between using a pacifier and a reduced INCIDENCE of SIDS. There ARE some potential downsides, however, to pacifier or binky use. Pacifier use may increase the risk of middle ear infections in babies and young children. In one study, the incidence of ear infections was 33% lower in babies who didn't use pacifiers. Since the risk of these infections is generally lower in young babies, you may find that using a pacifier until your baby's 6 months, when her desire to suck is strongest, and then weaning thereafter, may work perfectly for you! If you're breastfeeding your baby, you'll want to WAIT to offer a binky until your baby's a proficient nurser. Sucking on a pacifier and sucking on a breast are different actions, and babies who are offered a pacifier BEFORE they become adept at nursing can sometimes experience nipple confusion, which can interfere with successful breastfeeding. The AAP, or American Academy of Pediatrics, suggests that you wait until your baby has learned to latch on, suck well and that your milk supply be well established before offering a pacifier. Your little one's 1-month birthday should be about right! Here are some tips to successful pacifier use! Take care not to overuse the pacifier to help avoid overdependence. If you do decide to use a pacifier, make sure NOT to use it as a substitute for feeding. Offer the pacifier between feedings when you know your baby isn't hungry. When your baby is fussy, try to use other comforting techniques before offering the pacifier. And NEVER tie a pacifier around your baby's neck as your little one could CHOKE and even STRANGLE herself on it! Make sure to take care of the pacifier, keep it clean, and replace it when it begins to show signs of wear. If you follow these few simple rules, you and your baby will enjoy the peaceful effects of the pacifier!
July 16, 2012