Pacifier truths and myths

pacifier

Are you torn about giving your child a pacifier?  I know I sure was when my daughter was born.  On one hand, it helped her to go to sleep at night.  It didn’t seem to be hurting anything.  And it was like a lifeline for me on days when I was in tears myself. But, on the other hand, I had friends and family and co-workers and people in line at the grocery store all warn me against it.  Things I heard:

 

  • It will make her teeth grow in crooked
  • All that sucking will damage her soft palette.
  • She’ll get nipple confusion.
  • She’ll get ear infections.
  • It will delay speech development.
  • It will be impossible to get her to give it up.

I know now that some of these things I was told were true and some were complete nonsense!  But as a new mom, I was overwhelmed and worried that I was going to ruin my poor baby’s life if I made the wrong decision about using a pacifier.  So, let’s take a look at these and see what’s true and what isn’t.

Crooked Teeth and Damaged Soft Palette

False!  A pacifier can be used very safely up to the age of 2 with no worries that it will damage her teeth or their alignment according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry

Nipple Confusion

False!  – mostly.  I had to look this one up as a new mom.  I had never even heard of such a thing.  But it seems that if a newborn is given a pacifier too soon, he or she can get confused between the type of sucking needed during breastfeeding and the type of sucking needing while using a pacifier.  In worst case scenarios it can potentially cause a baby not to breastfeed correctly.  But the likelihood of this is minimal if you wait a few weeks to introduce a pacifier to your baby.  If you already bottle feed, there shouldn’t be a problem at all.

Ear Infections

True – BUT…  This one is, unfortunately, true in some cases.  There is a correlation between pacifier use and ear infections in children over the age of six months.  HOWEVER, this was most significant for ‘continual users’, children who sucked on pacifiers nonstop.  For most children, the increased risk was small.  In fact, doctors aren’t even sure how a pacifier can lead to an ear infection and admit that the increased ear infections could be due to other reasons.

Speech Delays

False!  Unless your child is addicted to their pacifier past the age of three there very little fear that your child’s speech will be delayed.  If you want more proof, my daughter used a pacifier and, thirteen years later, I wrote a post about raising a hyperverbal child.

Bad Habit

True.  This is the biggest, most real concern out there.  Since using a pacifier is soothing for a baby, they will grow accustomed to the sensation and find it hard to do without it.  How hard will it be to break the habit when the time comes put away the pacifier?  Well, that really all depends on your child.  Some kids can transition like a breeze.  Others really struggle.  There is a ton of advice online about ways to help your child move past their need for a pacifier.  And, since I don’t see many full-grown adults with pacifiers in their mouths I’m pretty sure most of us DO eventually kick the habit!

Take Away

Pacifiers are a great way to help a baby self-soothe themselves when they are stressed.  Most all myths about pacifiers fall apart when you start researching.  In general, most all the bad side effects caused by a pacifier can be avoided by:

  1. Giving up the pacifier before age 3.
  2. Not using a pacifier perpetually.

Given this information, you can now feel completely at ease with giving your baby a pacifier and know that it is not going to harm them.  In fact, it will likely help both of you get a good night’s sleep!