5 Things You Need to Know About Pacifier Use with Your Baby
Updated: Jul 11
To use or not use the pacifier, that is the question!
We are here to lay it all out for you, so you can make the decision that is best for your family. In this post, we go over both the pros and cons of using a pacifier, as well as how to introduce one, considerations for when using a pacifier, and when to wean the pacifier.
Pros of Pacifier Use
First and foremost, there are two types of sucking that your baby will do – nutritive and non-nutritive – nutritive meaning when they are feeding on either the breast or bottle, and non-nutritive when they’re sucking on a finger, thumb, pacifier, or some other object that isn’t providing nutrients. There is a need for both, and non-nutritive sucking is a normal part of fetal and neonatal development driven by a natural reflex.
The act of sucking can also have a calming effect on a baby, and offering a pacifier gives others the ability for others (besides the mom) to help calm the baby when they’re fussy – this can also be helpful if mom needs a break from nursing if they’re feeling overwhelmed
Using a pacifier can decrease the instance and duration of crying
Using a pacifier has been shown to relieve pain in instances of typical infant procedures like vaccinations, heel sticks, etc.
Cons of Pacifier Use
Your child will likely experience less consolidated sleep due to the pacifier falling out of their mouth, causing them to awaken
There is a correlation between pacifier use and recurrent ear infections
There is a correlation between pacifier use and the development of latex allergy
Dental deformities, cavities, and other oral concerns may develop (usually not a concern until past age 3)
You may need to wean from the pacifier if your child does not self-wean
Use of the pacifier could cause issues with breastfeeding latch or preference of a pacifier or bottle nipple to the breast
So, while the number of cons on our list does outweigh the pros, we want you to think of the value and benefits of each. Quite honestly, a decrease in the risk of SIDS by 90% seems pretty worth it, at least those first few months when the risk of SIDS is higher.
How to Get Your Baby to Take a Pacifier
As with nursing, there can be a learning curve for your baby when you first introduce the pacifier.
We suggest putting a bit of breastmilk on the nipple and then inserting it into your child’s mouth. Focus on placing it near the roof of their mouth – you don’t want to gag them! Just like when inserting your breast for breastfeeding or a bottle, they’ll be able to get a better latch when you place it near the roof of their mouth.
You can also try different nipple shapes to see if one fits better or if your baby has a preference as far as ease of use goes.
Things to Consider When Using the Pacifier with Your Baby
The first few months with the pacifier can seem like the honeymoon period. Once your baby has learned to take it, it’s this magical little calming tool that you can quickly pop in for a few quiet and calm minutes!
However, things can seem to go south rather quickly. Between 3-6 months, we refer to this stage as “Pacifier No-Man’s Land” as your baby may become very dependent on it without yet having the skills to be independent with using it. And guess what? It becomes YOUR problem then!
You can start to think about weaning at this point, or accept that it may be like this for the next few months until your little one can learn to use it more independently (usually around 6 months) and just help pop it back in when they need it. You can wait and give them some time before you go pop it back in, giving them the opportunity to practice soothing/calming in other ways.
Once your baby develops their palmer grasp around 6 months of age (you can promote this skill by doing lots of tummy time during the day, having your baby reach for items on the floor) you’ll want to practice practice practice so they can reach for, grab, and bring the pacifier to their mouth all on their own.
Then, sprinkle pacifiers around their crib so they can easily find one when they wake up at night. There are also glow-in-the-dark pacifiers you can purchase!
We don’t recommend using pacifier clips (as convenient as they seem!) or a Wubbanub, as they are a safety concern.
You’ll also maybe want to seriously consider decreasing your pacifier use after 6 months anyway to avoid an increased risk of ear infections.
Check your child’s pacifiers regularly for tears or signs of tearing. Replace as needed.
When to Wean the Pacifier
If the pacifier is working for you, there is no need to wean from it, unless your child’s specific dentist has concerns.
Frida Baby has a pacifier weaning system that gradually reduces the size of the nipple if you’d like a slower approach.
You can also consider a more fun way to do it, like the “Paci Fairy” or the Build-A-Bear approach!
With the “Paci Fairy”, you collect all your child’s pacifiers and put them out for the fairy to collect at night. She then leaves behind a fun, new gift for your child!
Or, you can have the workers at Build-A-Bear stuff a bear with all of your child’s pacifiers. That way, your child still has them to cuddle at night, but they are not accessible for sucking.
We hope you found all this information helpful, and now can make the best decision for your child! Let us know what you think and join our Facebook group, Raising Happy Sleepers Community.
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Fern R. Hauck, Olanrewaju O. Omojokun, Mir S. Siadaty; Do Pacifiers Reduce the Risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome? A Meta-analysis. Pediatrics November 2005; 116 (5): e716–e723. 10.1542/peds.2004-2631
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