Pacifier Use In Infants
Pacifier usage in infants can have many benefits. They can reduce crying and comfort a fussy baby. Newer studies show that pacifier usage in infants early on can reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). However, pacifier usage should begin to be limited as the baby approaches one year of age.
The reasons to limit usage as your baby approaches one-year old are:
- Babies begin to develop an “emotional” dependence and attachment to the pacifier after a year of age, making it very difficult on both parents and the toddler to wean it away after that age.
- It is thought that pacifier usage beyond that age can increase the risk of dental complications…such as development of an overbite.
- There have been studies that show an increased risk of ear infections and even possible speech delay with prolonged usage.
I always recommend that parents begin the process of limiting pacifier usage beginning at 9 months of age, with the goal to eliminate the pacifier by 1 year old.
Weaning can be obtained several ways:
- Offering it less often during the day, and for only brief periods.
- Removal of all pacifiers from the home (i.e. cold turkey method), which usually involved the child being fussy for a night or two until they adjust.
- Recommended only as a last ditch effort: Parents can gradually reduce the size of the “nipple” by cutting of a small amount from the end every day, which eventually leaves the pacifier with only a small nub at the end. The child will usually refuse to suck on it because it is not soothing and is unfamiliar. Make sure the cut ends are smooth, with no edges that can be bitten off and swallowed.
Sometimes, it isn’t easy for either a parent or a child to want to give up the pacifier but it is important. Hopefully you found these tips for weaning your baby helpful!