Pacifier Use: Pros and Cons

Pacifier use for your baby is controversial. There is evidence to support the usage and benefit of a binky, or pacifier as well as some studies showing adverse affects from the pacifier. Below is a summary of current medical knowledge in regards to the pacifier.

It may make good sense for many to use a pacifier during the first 6 months of life. Many babies have a need for nonnutritive sucking during the first few months of life. Pacifiers are great for these babies.

A recent study goes further to show babies put to sleep with a pacifier have a lower incidence of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). This is the first information to come parent’s way on how to prevent SIDS since the back to sleep study. (Putting babies to sleep on their backs lowers their risk of SIDS)

We also know that a pacifier is a great tool to control pain in babies during minor medical procedures such as circumcisions, blood draws and during immunizations. If you have a baby who likes the pacifier, definitely bring it along for well baby checks.

The down side of pacifiers is ear infections, dental health and possibly breastfeeding difficulties. Some babies do have a hard time latching on the breast during those first few days or week when breast feeding is being established. For these babies, it is better to hold off on the pacifier until breast feeding is well established.

We also know pacifier usage is associated with a higher incidence of middle ear infections. Ear infections are usually not too much of an issue until after 6 months of age. So in view of this data, as well as the SIDS data, it may make sense to use the pacifier for the first 6 months; to get the lower SIDS benefit and the lower ear infection benefit.

Pacifier usage beyond 24 months can lead to dental disorders such as overbite and other malocclusions. This is more of an issue for children using a pacifier beyond 48 months though can be seen as young as 24 months.

Reviewing all the data can leave you wondering what is best for your baby. Every baby is a unique, individual person. What is best for one baby may not be best for all babies. Discuss pacifier usage with your provider. A general guideline would be to use it but limit the usage to the first 6 months of life.

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