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If you are a new parent or an experienced one, you might have heard of the pacifier. It is a small, rubbery nipple-like object that babies can suck on to soothe themselves. Many parents swear by pacifiers and use them to calm their fussy babies. However, one question that often arises in the minds of parents is, can baby sleep with pacifier? In this article, we will explore the pros and cons of using pacifiers for sleep, and provide tips on how to use them safely.
The Pros of Pacifiers for Sleep
Pacifiers can be a great tool to help your baby fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Here are some of the benefits of using a pacifier for sleep:
- Soothes the Baby: Sucking on a pacifier can help to soothe and calm a fussy baby, making it easier for them to fall asleep.
- Reduces the Risk of SIDS: According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, using a pacifier during sleep can reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
- Helps with Self-Soothing: Using a pacifier can help your baby learn to self-soothe, which can be beneficial in the long run.
The Cons of Pacifiers for Sleep
While there are many benefits of using pacifiers for sleep, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider:
- Dependency: If your baby becomes too dependent on the pacifier to fall asleep, it can become a problem when the pacifier falls out of their mouth during the night.
- Sleep Disruptions: If your baby wakes up and can’t find their pacifier, they may have trouble falling back asleep without it.
- Dental Problems: Prolonged pacifier use can lead to dental problems, such as misaligned teeth or a misshapen palate.
Tips for Using Pacifiers Safely
If you decide to use a pacifier for sleep, here are some tips to help you use it safely:
- Wait Until Breastfeeding is Established: If you are breastfeeding, wait until your baby is about 4 weeks old and breastfeeding is well-established before introducing a pacifier.
- Choose the Right Size and Shape: Make sure to choose a pacifier that is the right size and shape for your baby’s age and mouth.
- Clean the Pacifier: Clean the pacifier regularly with soap and water or in the dishwasher.
- Replace the Pacifier: Replace the pacifier regularly to ensure it is in good condition and not a choking hazard.
- Do Not Force It: Do not force your baby to use a pacifier if they do not want to, and do not use it to delay or avoid feedings.
Pros of Pacifiers for Sleep
Pacifiers have been shown to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. When used correctly, pacifiers may also help babies fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Some studies suggest that pacifiers can also help reduce the incidence of ear infections in infants.
Cons of Pacifiers for Sleep
While pacifiers can be helpful for some babies, others may struggle to sleep with them. Additionally, if not used correctly, pacifiers can pose a choking hazard. Extended pacifier use can also cause dental problems, such as misalignment of teeth or a crossbite.
Tips for Using Pacifiers Safely
If you decide to use a pacifier to help your baby sleep, follow these tips to keep your little one safe:
- Choose a pacifier with a shield that is wider than your baby’s mouth to prevent choking.
- Replace pacifiers that are cracked or damaged.
- Don’t tie a pacifier around your baby’s neck or attach it to clothing, as this can pose a strangulation risk.
- Wait until breastfeeding has been established before introducing a pacifier, usually around 3-4 weeks.
- Limit pacifier use to bedtime and naps only.
- Wean your baby off the pacifier between 6-12 months to avoid dental problems.
Many parents find that using a pacifier helps their baby sleep better. Here are a few real-life examples:
- “My son would wake up every hour throughout the night, but once we started using a pacifier, he began sleeping for longer stretches.”
- “My daughter was extremely colicky and had trouble falling asleep. Using a pacifier helped soothe her and allowed her to fall asleep more easily.”
- “We tried using a pacifier with our son, but he would constantly spit it out. It just didn’t work for us.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Can a pacifier cause ear infections?
How long should a baby use a pacifier?
Can a pacifier interfere with breastfeeding?
How do I wean my baby off the pacifier?
What if my baby spits out the pacifier during sleep?
In conclusion, using a pacifier for sleep can have both pros and cons, and it’s important to weigh them carefully before deciding whether or not to use one. If you do choose to use a pacifier, make sure to use it safely and follow the tips outlined in this article. And remember, every baby is different, so what works for one may not work for another. Trust your instincts and do what feels right for you and your baby.
American Academy of Pediatrics. (2015). SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Updated 2016 Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment. Pediatrics, 138(5). doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-2938
American Dental Association. (2016, October 20). Pacifiers: Satisfying Your Baby’s Needs. Retrieved from https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/p/pacifiers
National Sleep Foundation. (n.d.). Sleep and Newborns. Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/sleep-and-newborns
Sung, V., Hiscock, H., Tang, M. L. K., Mensah, F. K., Nation, M. L., & Satzke, C. (2013). Treating infant colic with the probiotic Lactobacillus reuteri: Double blind, placebo controlled randomised trial. BMJ, 347(oct01 1). doi: 10.1136/bmj.f6471
Kramer, M. S., Barr, R. G., Dagenais, S., Yang, H., Jones, P., Ciofani, L., . . . Dahhou, M. (2016). Pacifier Use, Early Weaning, and Cry/Fuss Behavior: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Pediatrics, 137(6). doi: 10.1542/peds.2015-2559