Posted by: Brigitte Rozario Post(s) by this blogger
Using a pacifier used to be a non-issue. Today, a larger number of parents think it's a bad idea because of the effects of prolonged use. Is it okay to give your child a pacifier?
Maureen Nagle, mother of a 21-month toddler, says pacifiers are a big NO:
Before we even became parents we decided that we would not give our daughter the pacifier. We knew what we wanted and how we were going to bring up our child. So there was a whole lot of planning and a whole lot of research done. It's worked out quite well. We've kept to what we wanted to do.
We decided not to give her the pacifier based on a lot of articles we read written by paediatricians. Pacifiers are an outdated thing. First of all pacifiers are not good for the child's teeth. They can deform the mouth. Secondly, we did see some documentaries about this saying that pacifiers make a child lazy in the sense that the child's speech would be delayed. Because they have the pacifier in their mouth all the time there is no motivation to do anything.
My husband and I have seen many times where the child has a pacifier and the minute you remove it, the child cries. Even for a simple trip to the bank the parent needs the pacifier for the child just so the child keeps quiet and doesn't throw a tantrum. I think the pacifier is more to comfort the child.
We decided that if you bring up a child without giving her the pacifier from the start she's not going to know what she missed out on. Our daughter has never had a pacifier so she doesn't know that she's missed out on it and the same goes for sugar. We didn't want to give her sugar because it's not good - it makes a child hyper active. Again, because we never gave her sugar she doesn't crave for sugar or chocolates.
The first time I took her to a paediatrician, he gave her a jab. She was just a baby and she started crying, of course. Which child won't cry when you give them a jab? And, the doctor said get her a pacifier. I later related this to a cousin who is training to be a paediatrician and she was just as horrified. She said a pacifier is a no-no. I was also quite horrified and so I dropped him as a paediatrician.
My daughter doesn't cry continuously. As a baby when she used to fall, she would cry but she wouldn't go on and on. When she would start to cry, we would carry her, comfort her, tell her it's okay and distract her. So much so even if she slips now she will not cry. The only times she cries is if it's really painful and even that it's not forever and ever. You can reason with her and tell her it's fine, it's okay. At most it will last a minute.
Dr Chin Wai Seong, consultant paediatrician
I don't think it is right or wrong to give a baby a pacifier. If you ask me I would say giving a baby a pacifier is fine but try to understand all the advantages and disadvantages and also the practical tips you need to know when offering a pacifier to a baby and also when you want to wean the baby off the pacifier and how to wean the baby.
The advantages: Sucking the pacifier is self-comforting for the baby. If you don't give the pacifier they're going to suck their thumb. In view of that if you give the baby the pacifier which is disposable it'll be easier to wean the baby off the pacifier rather than getting baby to stop sucking their thumb. If they start sucking their thumb, there is also the tendency to overbite their finger when they start to develop teeth. The pacifier is softer than the finger so if they're overbiting their finger they will have injury and the formation of hardened skin on the thumb.
Also studies show that if you give the pacifier the risk of sudden infant death syndrome is reduced. The cause of sudden infant death syndrome is unknown - some from choking or the tongue falling backwards. So using the pacifier seems to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
The disadvantages: If you give the baby the pacifier too early it will interfere with the development of the breastfeeding technique because the way the baby sucks on the pacifier is different from the way the baby sucks on the mother's nipple.
Sucking on the pacifier might also result in some wind production and indigestion. Because of this the milk might not be digested completely if the child sucks on a pacifier all the time.
When you introduce anything foreign to the body there's a risk of contamination and gastro-intestinal infection.
There is also the risk of choking because the material on some pacifiers is not good - they have very soft rings and the diameter is very small. The baby might accidentally suck the whole piece into their mouth and choke on it.
Studies also show that when the child gets addicted to the pacifier they are lazy to open their mouth to talk so there will be the risk of speech delay.
Some babies might develop a dependency and they may want to suck the pacifier all the time even when they're playing and during their daily activities.
Prolonged use of the pacifier, especially after one year old, when their teeth start developing, will impair the development of the teeth and the alignment will become slanting upwards especially the upper and lower incisor teeth. In more severe cases they have a misalignment of the jaw.
Tips: Firstly, you must establish the breastfeeding skill first which will take one or two weeks. Once they have the skill to suck the milk directly from the breast, then you can introduce the pacifier.
Don't rush for the pacifier to console one fussy baby. It is not the first line of management. As a parent you have to look for the cause of the crying.
As for buying a pacifier, you should buy the type that comes as a whole piece and not the kind where the nipple can be separated because the nipple might get separated and swallowed accidentally and there's the risk of choking. You want the type that is one piece and the plate must be hard. Also, look for the pacifier with a small hole at the nipple. This is for good ventilation when the baby is sucking.
Don't tie a string or strap around the pacifier and hang it on the baby's neck. The one with the clip and a short length of strap is okay because there's no risk of strangulation.
If you drop the pacifier on the floor, clean it with warm water.
Check the pacifier for damage as any cracks on the nipple may hurt the baby's gum and lips.
Try to limit the use of the pacifier during the sleeping hours. Once the baby has fallen asleep you can remove the pacifier.
When the child is awake and busy with activities or playing, don't offer the pacifier.
This will prepare the child to stop sucking the pacifier after the child turns one year old so they won't get addicted to it.
Parents must know when to wean the child off the pacifier. Try to do so after the child turns one year old once the child starts developing teeth. Don't let the child use the pacifier for more than two to three years old.
Parents shouldn't be overly anxious or worried if their child prefers to suck a pacifier at less than one year old. As long as they are aware of the disadvantages and know how to prevent the disadvantages from occurring, it is okay.