Dos and Don'ts for Pacifiers
Binky, chupa, fuss-plug... nicknames for the pacifier are endless. But it's not what you call it that matters. Babies naturally want to suck, and for some babies, sucking on a pacifier can help to make them feel calm. Studies have even shown that using pacifiers reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). If your child uses a pacifier, make sure you follow these safety tips.
- Make sure you have established good breastfeeding habits long before you introduce a pacifier, or else your baby may have trouble feeding.
- Use the pacifier as a last resort if your baby is fussy. Try other ways of soothing him first, like cuddling, rocking or singing.
- Make sure the pacifier is clean to avoid oral and gastrointestinal infection. If the pacifier falls on the ground, clean it well before giving it back.
- End the practice of using a pacifier by the time your child is 1-2 years old. You want to make sure your child's teeth, jaw muscles and behaviors develop normally without it.
- Force the pacifier into the baby's mouth, or put it back in if it falls out when the baby is asleep. Use it only to calm the baby down, or to help a SIDS-risk baby to bed. A SIDS-risk baby might be one who lives with smokers or who are born early. Also, some babies don't like to use pacifiers, so pay attention to your child's individual needs.
- Allow siblings to share pacifiers.
- Coat the pacifier in sugar - this could lead to tooth decay.
- Leave your child unattended with a pacifier if it has a strap, ribbon or attachment cord on it - this is a hazard for strangulation or circulation cutoff.
- Use the pacifier in any other way than the manufacturer's safety recommendations.