Should Your Baby Sleep With a Pacifier? A Guide
Little Yawn Collective - Nov 04, 2021
There is no time in a person’s life that is both as rewarding and daunting as having a baby. While there is no shortage of advice given to new parents, whether by friends, family, guidebooks, the Internet, or the lady behind you in line at the grocery store, ultimately, parents have to decide the best course of action.
Having a child opens up a whole world of scenarios that new parents have never experienced or thought about asking. How much should you hold a baby? What color should their poop be? (Why are there so many colors?!) What could they be crying about? How long will Baby Shark be stuck in my head?
One question that new parents face is: should my baby sleep with a pacifier?
Understanding Pacifier Pros and Cons
While it might not be the most important decision for new parents, whether or not to allow the baby to use a pacifier is still a pretty important decision and requires a lot of consideration. Before we talk about whether or not your baby should sleep with a pacifier, we should discuss the pros and cons of pacifiers in general.
Pro: Alternative to Thumbsucking
There is nothing better in the world than simply watching your newborn (those feet, eyelashes, the sweetest lips!). The sense of joy and wonder present in each new life is a tear-jerker, especially when it’s your own child!
While paying constant attention to your baby is a reward in and of itself, you can also pick up on any developing patterns of behavior that your baby may be beginning to show.
For instance, if your baby tends to suck their thumb, pacifiers can be a great substitute for that behavior if thumb-sucking is something you would like to avoid. Early detection of unwanted behaviors can ensure that you have enough time to be proactive and investigate remedies and alternatives.
Pro: Curbs Crying
While we never get tired of giving attention to our baby (you could honestly watch them for hours), sometimes the crying can become a little overwhelming. Luckily, there are a few solutions to this pesky issue.
While giving your baby a spoonful of whiskey when they are colicky may no longer be in good favor as a general practice, pacifiers can assist in soothing your baby when they get fussy. They can help babies self-soothe as sucking is a comforting action to them.
Con: Can Increase Risk of Inner Ear Infections
Unfortunately, pacifiers can increase the risk of inner ear infections in your baby. This occurs as using a pacifier can cause an increase in fluid buildup in the ears, which is the perfect recipe for an ear infection. It is essential to watch for signs that your baby may be experiencing ear discomfort. Those symptoms include crying, fever, tugging or pulling at their ear, and discharge from their ear. If you start to notice these symptoms, you’ll want to make an appointment with your baby’s pediatrician.
One con that many parents may worry about when their child uses a pacifier is how dependent their child may be on it. As mentioned before, the sucking action that babies make on a pacifier is soothing to them, and babies may become reliant on them, especially as they fall asleep.
When your little one wakes up and doesn’t have their pacifier in their mouth, you’ll be sure to hear all about it. This dependency can become a bigger issue if all your baby wants their pacifier.
One question of particular concern for women is whether or not pacifiers may have adverse consequences for breastfeeding. There is a concern about introducing a pacifier too early before your baby is fully down.
However, as long as your baby is breastfeeding successfully, their pacifier should not negatively affect their milk intake in the future.
Con: Dental Issues
Dependency on pacifiers can also lead to potential dental issues. If your baby is dependent on their pacifier, the pacifier can affect how their teeth are positioned in their mouth once their teeth start to come in.
For those parents whose babies already have tiny pearly whites in their grin, you know those little teeth can be sharp! As your child’s teeth come in, you may want to consult their dentist to advise how your baby’s pacifier can affect their tooth alignment.
To use or not to use, that is the question. Once you have figured out if using a pacifier is the right choice for your baby, consider some unsolicited advice (just think of us as the lady in line at the grocery store).
- Don’t Use the Pacifier First: If your baby is crying, and after you’ve tried all the normal solutions (bottle, diaper, warm/cold), try a change of location or position. If you do not want to create dependency, make the pacifier one of the last tools in your “please-stop-crying-toolbox.”
- Let Baby Run Things: Don’t keep trying the pacifier if your baby keeps spitting the pacifier out. Also, don’t dip the pacifier in honey or another food to entice them to take it.
- Maintain Regular Cleanings: Make sure you sanitize your baby’s pacifiers on a regular basis and have multiple on hand, so there is always a fresh pacifier nearby.
Introducing and Weaning
The overall opinion is that you can begin introducing the pacifier to your child as soon as they begin showing interest in it. If they will take it, you can give it to them.
When it comes to decreasing the pacifier use, you can begin weaning your baby off of the pacifier as early as two years old and generally as late as four years old, but it may be harder to wean as your baby gets older.
Some children will naturally wean themselves off the pacifier, especially as they move from bottles or breastfeeding to toddler cups. However, some children may consider their pacifier as their prized possession, and you will have a special battle on your hands.
There are various ways and methods to assist with weaning children off of the pacifier, but you can probably count on your little buddy to be a little upset and angry for a few days once the weaning commences.
Should My Baby Sleep With Their Pacifier?
No matter how much research you’ve done, no matter all the sources you’ve combed through, and no matter the lists of pros and cons you have made, you will still have questions about your baby using a pacifier! A large and looming question that many parents have is should their baby sleep with a pacifier?
By most accounts, there is no issue at all with your baby having their pacifier while they sleep. It is a question of how dependent you want your baby to be on them and if you believe that the pacifier is an essential part of your baby’s bedtime routine.
Pacifiers are a highly regulated product and have strict guidelines they must follow to be allowed to be sold. These guidelines include the materials they are made with, their construction, even their surface coating.
Tests must be conducted on pacifiers sold to prove their safety, namely staying in one piece and not being able to enter your baby’s mouth and block the passage of air.
One big safety tip is to not attach your baby’s pacifier to any string or attachment that could wrap around your baby’s airway. So long as there are no clips or strings that could potentially be choking hazards, there should be no concern with allowing your baby to use their pacifier at night.
As mentioned earlier, there is also research to suggest pacifiers during nighttime to help reduce the risk of potential dangers. The reason is unclear, but it is believed that using a pacifier can aid in a baby’s jaw development which can help with more effective breathing while sleeping. It is also uncomfortable to suck on a pacifier while laying on their stomach, so babies will sleep on their back when actively using their pacifier.
If you decide to use pacifiers, you will find that they can be a great tool in helping ensure that your little buddy is calm, soothed, and comfortable. You can use pacifiers in your overall bedtime routine to help your baby rest comfortably, as well as you!
Your child’s bedtime routine is a powerful way to ensure that they feel safe, loved, and cozy. This encourages your baby to fall asleep easier and stay asleep longer.
Here at Little Yawn Collective, we offer a wide variety of quality sleep products to ensure your baby gets the quality sleep they need. Our mission is to keep parents empowered and build confidence to establish bedtime routines that work. We want to make sure you have all the information you need to make the important decisions for your baby’s sleep.
All of Little Yawn Collective’s items are backed by the latest sleep science, which ensures that your little one will get the best possible assistance in their desire for the best possible sleep care.
We are here for you, just like you are there for your baby. No matter if you choose a pacifier or not, happy snoozing to you and your little buddy!
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