Justin never experienced using a pacifier. That’s because his pediatrician advised against it. Being a first-time mom and wanting to do what’s right for my baby, I followed her advice. But I would often see babies with pacifiers stuck in their mouths, which made me wonder if they’re really a good or a bad thing for the little ones. Here’s what I found out.
Pacifiers help calm babies during fussy or colicky times. Aside from being one of babies’ natural reflexes, sucking (thumb-sucking, finger sucking, or pacifier use) serves various purposes, such as making babies and young children feel secure, happy, and relaxed and helping these children learn about their world.
Pacifiers can also help prevent SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). SIDS is the sudden, unexpected death of an infant under the age of one, characterized by a sudden cessation of breathing and thought to be caused by a defect in the central nervous system. Crib death is another term for SIDS. A California-based study found that babies who died of SIDS were less likely to have had a pacifier during their last sleep, even if they slept in less-than-ideal positions (on their tummies or sides) or settings (soft bedding, for example). This supports the notion that pacifiers help prevent SIDS.
Pacifiers can cause dental problems. Like thumb-sucking and finger sucking, use of pacifiers can cause problems that usually start after the permanent front teeth come in. These problems have to do with the proper growth of the mouth and alignment of the teeth. Sucking and pacifier use can also cause changes in the roof of the mouth.
Pacifier use can also cause ear infections. Ear infections are one of the most common diseases in children. Children who use pacifiers may be at a higher risk of ear infections because pacifiers can be a vector for the spread of microorganisms.