The battle over pacifiers continues to rage on, with one camp opting for the more natural thumb, and the other camp preferring the artificial pacifier that allows parents some control over its use.
Although use of pacifiers is commonplace, these baby-soothing tools are associated with a number of problems. Some of the issues involve common sense matters like what to do when a pacifier falls to the floor. Other problems involve tooth displacement from constant use of a pacifier. A closer look at the issue of pacifier use can help parents get a better idea of how much to rely on this age-old method of calming babies.
The Problem of Pacifiers
Pacifiers constantly fall and must be constantly retrieved. They must be cleaned to ensure that germs don’t infect your baby. They also can interfere with breastfeeding. Pacifiers are associated with middle ear infections and using them too often can cause your baby’s teeth to become crooked. To minimize the problems associated with pacifier use, parents should follow a number of safety tips.
1 - Keep Pacifiers Clean
Because pacifiers fall to the floor frequently, you should have a number of clean ones on hand, in a plastic bag or other container, so that you can pop in a clean pacifier when needed. Resist the urge to clean it with your own mouth, as this method can transfer colds and other viruses to your baby. Buy good quality pacifiers that can be cleaned in your dishwasher and wash them frequently. If necessary, a good wipe with a clean tissue can help remove surface germs in an emergency.
2 - Choose One-Piece Pacifiers
Make sure you choose a pacifier that is constructed in one piece that cannot come apart, causing a choking hazard for your baby. Again, pay a little more and get a pacifier that has a mouth guard at least 1-1/2 inches larger than your baby’s mouth. The kind with small holes for ventilation are a good idea to prevent breathing obstructions.
3 - Don’t Over-Rely on the Pacifier
A pacifier can do such a good job of calming your baby that you may want to rely on its use every moment of the day. However, this habit will only make it difficult to stop pacifier use when you want. In addition, constant use can have a detrimental effect on your child’s teeth as new ones erupt and begin to mold around the contours of the pacifier.
4 - Have Other Options Besides the Pacifier
In order to limit the use of a pacifier for those fussy times, have a variety of other calming options to help quiet your baby. Rocking, walking, singing, swaddling and gentle massage can help to soothe ragged nerves and bad moods. Keep a number of bright, colorful objects around that make sounds that will distract the infant.
Pacifier use can have benefits for families that travel a lot or those dealing with a particularly fussy baby. However, keeping pacifiers in their place as an “option,” and not as a constant crutch, can provide the right balance for most infants.
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Categories: Children's Dentistry
Tags: Children's Dentistry, pacifier, pacifier care