8 Important Pacifier Tips

8 Important Pacifier Tips

Whether babies should be comforted by a synthetically manufactured "plug," rather than comfort themselves or have a caregiver attend to their needs, is a matter of debate. Surely parents should find out what's bothering the baby before just stuffing in the pacifier.

Indeed, in some cases it's the parents, not the baby, who become addicted to the pacifier since it's easier to "have quiet time" rather than find out what's wrong. Sometimes, however, a pacifier that quiets a crying baby is a godsend. While many babies can and will suck on their hand or fingers to comfort themselves, it may take several weeks before they can actually get their hand to mouth.

Sucking is necessary for babies (and it may last less than a year). The sucking urge ensures a baby will eat. Many babies get enough satisfaction at the breast or bottle. For these babies, use of a pacifier may provide so much satisfaction that they prefer not to nurse. Others need to suck more and will suck on their hands, parents' fingers, pacifiers or anything that they're able to pop in their mouths. Sometimes, only a pacifier seems to quiet an otherwise attended-to baby.

Pacifier Tips

1. If you opt for pacifier use, then buy ones labeled "orthodontic" as they have a special shape best for tongue or palate development. However, if your child doesn't like these, or any other type, don't worry. Some kids just don't like pacifiers, or won't until they're older. And your baby won't be malformed because he or she used a traditional-shaped pacifier. You may be able to find special "new-born size" pacifiers, as well.

2. Buy silicone, rather than latex/rubber, since they last longer and are less likely to break off and choke the baby. Also, they can be washed in the dishwasher. (But if your baby has rubber bottle nipples, he or she may prefer rubber pacifiers.)

3. Buy ones with air holes around the guard or shield around the nipple, so air can circulate and skin won't get irritated by saliva. The guard should be too big to fit in the baby 's mouth and should have ventilation holes so the baby could breathe if it did get in there, anyhow.

4. Clean a new pacifier before use, and test it by pulling on it to make sure no parts tear away (they can cause choking). Test older pacifiers often, too.

5. Never use a homemade pacifier (it won't meet safety standards).

6. Never tie the pacifier around the baby's neck or to a cord (baby could strangle).

7. Never dip the pacifier in honey (it may cause botulism) or other substances such as alcohol, corn syrup or milk (which could lead to tooth decay or gum disease).

8. To get the baby to take it, "tease" their cheek or lip with the pacifier's nipple, as you would to get the baby to take the breast or bottle. It may need to be rubbed on the roof of baby's mouth or held in the baby's mouth for a few seconds before the baby catches on and sucks readily. Some kids just don't like pacifiers, or won't until they're older.