Are pacifiers good for your baby?

We have collated some science-based information and myth busters regarding the use of pacifiers.

If you’re a new mom or mom-to-be, the wellbeing of your little one is, without a doubt, your main goal and you want your baby to have a healthy development, both physically and emotionally. When it comes to pacifiers, there are a lot of theories and opinions out there. Are pacifiers good for your baby?

Mother cuddling her baby wondering if pacifiers are good or bad

It is easy to feel uncertain or confused about the pacifiers’ pros and cons, as it is hard to tell on which side of these theories the truth lies. But can we classify a pacifier as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for babies? 

Like for many other questions, there’s not a black or white answer to this one either. The use of a pacifier can have a lot of benefits for your baby when used responsibly , following certain guidelines and the instructions for use. 
If you’re about to make up your mind about whether to use a pacifier or not, keep on reading! We have collated some science-based information and myth busters regarding the use of pacifiers. Additionally, you can learn how and when a pacifier can help your little one and in which occasions you may want to consider to hold the offering of a pacifier.

Mother lifting and smiling at her baby in diapers

A pacifier can offer comfort when your baby is crying and/or agitated - Truth
Pacifiers can be very helpful to offer comfort to your little one during times of distress, as the action of suckling helps babies to soothe themselves.1

Pacifiers can be given to a breastfed baby -  Truth
Pacifiers can be given to a healthy baby from birth. Studies have shown that the use of a pacifier in healthy breastfeeding babies, started from birth or after lactation is established, did not impact significantly the frequency or duration of exclusive and partial breastfeeding up to four months of age.2However, you may want to consider introducing the pacifier  when you and your baby are already comfortable with breastfeeding. It is important that a pacifier shouldn’t be used to replace or delay feeding time. 

Pacifiers may help to reduce SIDS risk during napping and sleeping time - Truth
Scientific research has shown that the use of a pacifier during sleep may offer protection against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).3 However, if your little one loses the pacifier during sleep, there’s no need to put it back in the mouth.4  

Pacifier affects teeth – Myth
When used responsibly and within the recommended time limits, pacifiers should not cause problems with dentition or misaligned teeth. Expert literature recommends limiting the time of use of the pacifier to a maximum of six hours per day.5 Each child’s mouth and teeth develop differently. Use of pacifiers for children older than 24 months should be a decision made by each parent, based on consultation with a medical or dental health care provider. The American Academy of Paediatric Dentistry recommends that weaning should start at the latest by 3 years of age.6 We recommend to choose a pacifier shape that supports oral development, usually signalled by the word ‘orthodontic’.  

Pacifiers can aid your baby with pain relief - Truth
Scientific evidence has shown that pacifiers can help babies better cope with distress and discomfort during minor painful events.7 When babies get a vaccine or blood taken, the act of sucking on a pacifier can help them calm and soothe themselves. When teething, your little one might feel very uncomfortable and experience aches and soreness. The pacifier can offer some relief to the discomfort. Just pay attention to the condition of the pacifier and replace it if it begins to look worn out.

Pacifiers cause colic - Myth
The cause for colics is still unknown, but there are some theories such as an immature digestive system, lactose intolerance, allergies, or changes in the normal bacteria of their digestive system. Swallowing additional air during feeding can aggravate the situation.8  It is often difficult to calm babies during a colic episode, they cry intensely and long, often with clenched fists and curled up legs. Symptoms usually start to improve around 10–12 weeks of life. One tip to help soothe your baby is to offer a pacifier, as suckling can be soothing and help regulate your little one’s emotions. 

Weaning can be difficult – Myth and Truth
Some babies have no problem giving up their pacifiers while others need more time to say good-bye. As a pacifier provides comfort, babies can become attached to it. Weaning will be a learning and compromising experience for you and you little one. But with love and some patience you will manage to help your baby reach this life milestone. Find helpful tips and ideas about weaning in our Pacifier guide for parents.

You now have a lot of useful information about pacifiers. If you feel that the pacifier is a good option for your little one, start considering what the best one may be for your baby. There is a wide range of pacifiers available nowadays. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials, such as a special size for newborns, one-piece pacifiers 100% made of silicone, pacifiers for day or night time. Check out our Pacifier Selector  and find the perfect match to your baby.

 

References

 1    Pillai Riddell RR et al. Non-pharmacological management of infant and young child procedural pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015; (12):CD006275. https://doi.org/10.1002%2F14651858.CD006275.pub3

2    Jaafar SH et al. Effect of restricted pacifier use in breastfeeding term infants for increasing duration of breastfeeding. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016; (8):CD007202. https://www.cochranelibrary.com/cdsr/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD007202.pub4/full

3    Alm B et al. Breastfeeding and dummy use have a protective effect on sudden infant death syndrome. Acta Paediatri. 2016; 105(1):31-38.

4    Moon RY. SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Evidence Base for 2016 Updated Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment. Pediatrics. 2016; 138(5):e20162940. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/128/5/1030

5    Proffit WR. On the aetiology of malocclusion. The Northcroft lecture, 1985 presented to the British Society for the Study of Orthodontics, Oxford, April 18, 1985. Br J Orthod. 1986; 13(1):1–11.

6    AAPD. Guideline on periodicity of examination, preventive dental services, anticipatory guidance/counseling, and oral treatment for infants, children, and adolescents. Latest revision 2018. In: American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, editor. The reference manual of pediatric dentistry. 2019-2020. Chicago IL: AAPD; 2020. p. 209–19.

7    Pillai Riddell RR et al. Non-pharmacological management of infant and young child procedural pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015; (12):CD006275. https://doi.org/10.1002%2F14651858.CD006275.pub3

8    Johnson JD et al. Infantile Colic: Recognition and Treatment. American Family Physician. 2015; 92(7): 577–582. 2. Lam T.M.L. et al. Approach to infantile colic in primary care. Singapore Med J. Singapore Med J 2019; 60(1): 12-16. https://www.aafp.org/afp/2015/1001/p577.html