The Great Pacifier Debate

baby pacifier

I was recently shocked to find that the AAP was encouraging the use of pacifiers while baby sleeps. It seems that the use of a pacifier while baby is sleeping helps reduce the risk of SIDS. Interestingly, they readily admit that there are some negatives to using a pacifier. Still, according to the AAP, the fact that the use of a pacifier lowers the risk of SIDS, outweighs the other possible negative effects of pacifier use.

I may be bold, but I’m not so sure I agree with the AAP. I have tended to disagree on many of their positions in the past regarding the length of breastfeeding, co-sleeping and now–the use of pacifiers. So in the interest of satisfying my curiosity. . .I did some research on the almight pacifier, to weigh the benefit of pacifier use vs. the possible negatives of pacifier use.

The Pros
Using the pacifier does soothe cranky babies. If your baby is especially fussy it can save you from being relegated to becoming a human pacifier.

Using pacifiers with multiples (which we did) will help buy you extra time while you’re dealing with the other sibling.

Pre-term infants benefit from the use of pacifiers. Sucking on a pacifier helps them develop their weak muscles and helps them learn to suck more effectively so they can eat better.

Babies who spend less time crying, develop better. (See blog on baby wearing benefits.)

The Cons

Weaning a child from a pacifier can be very difficult.

Pacifiers are germ magnets. There is a strong correlation between ear infections and pacifier use.

Pacifiers do interfere with breastfeeding–even AAP guidelines recommend not using a pacifier on a breastfed infant for at least a month; after breastfeeding is well established.

If you are using natural child spacing, pacifier use will interfere with that also.

I honestly, can’t find convincing arguments on either side. Even the research that indicates pacifier use may reduce SIDS is not conclusive. Critics point out that the research was done based on parents’ observations and recollections rather than trials in a clinic. Furthermore, scientists really are not sure, why there would be a link between pacifier use and a reduced risk of SIDS.

So after all my research, I came to this profound conclusion: if you can get away without it–don’t use it. If you have a fussy, high-need baby use it. Regardless of what you choose you’re likely to find an advocate in your corner.

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