Your baby is crying and he looks very sad: his mouth is open, his eyes are closed, his fists are clenched… You have tried everything you can think of to calm him down: breastfeed him, take him for a stroll, gently rock him and sing to him. In your palm you have what you hope is the answer to your calm: a pacifier.
Experts agree that pacifiers are completely appropriate for calming the baby. Still, pediatric dentists recommend limiting pacifier time once a child is 2 years old and eliminating it at age 4 to avoid dental problems. Beyond that, there are no hard and fast rules about when and how to say goodbye to the pacifier. Although it is necessary that first of all you know what are the pros and cons of using this attachment object.
Pros and cons
While parents fear that pacifiers can damage a baby’s teeth, they usually have no effect on a child under 2 years of age. From a dental health point of view, it is best to limit the pacifier when the child is 2 years old and to stop it completely by the time the child is 4.
After age 4, pacifiers can cause an overbite, open bite, or crossbite – problems that affect chewing, speech, and appearance, often requiring orthodontia to correct. What matters is the frequency and intensity of the sucking habit.
There are some pros of the pacifier:
- It’s a way of calming:the amount of time a baby spends crying increases from birth to about 6 weeks, when a baby cries for an average of three hours a day. This creates stress in parents and they see the pacifier as an ally to calm them down.
- Health Benefits:The only proven medical benefits related to pacifiers have been seen in premature babies. Premature babies who suck on pacifiers gain weight faster. They also show earlier sucking patterns and experience fewer health complications. Suction promotes oral muscle function and muscle development.
- Reduced risk of SIDS:Pacifiers are associated with a reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Pacifiers can prevent babies from rolling on their faces or they can keep the tongue forward and away from the airway. But since no cause-and-effect relationship has been proven, researchers aren’t sure how, or even if, pacifiers prevent SIDS.
We also found some cons in pacifiers:
- Ear Infections – Pacifiers were found to be responsible for 25% of ear infections in children under 3 years of age who attend daycare. However, restricting pacifier use just before a child falls asleep lowers the risk. This occurs because the suction of the pacifier promotes the accumulation of fluid in the ears, which can lead to ear infections.
- Early weaning from the breast: offering a pacifier to a full-term baby can prevent him from getting what he really needs: food. In fact, several studies have linked pacifier use with early cessation of breastfeeding. However, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that pacifiers were probably not to blame for early weaning. The researchers concluded that its use is a sign of difficulties in breastfeeding or a reduced motivation to breastfeed. Ideally, wait until breastfeeding is established before offering the pacifier to the baby.
- Dental Problems –Children who suck on anything (thumb, finger, or pacifier) after age 2 are at increased risk of developing protruding front teeth and / or a crossbite on baby teeth . In some cases, these problems persist when permanent teeth appear.