To Use, or Not to Use: Pacifier Pros & Cons

To Use, or Not to Use: Pacifier Pros & Cons

Maybe you have heard that using a pacifier can help prevent SIDS?  Or maybe you have heard that pacifiers interfere with breastfeeding?  Are you looking for the truth about pacifiers?  We want every parent to understand the pros and cons of pacifiers.

Verify the Facts - Dispel the Myths

The first step in making any decision is to verify the facts and dispel the myths.  We have compiled an informational guide to pacifiers, sourced only from reputable scientific organizations.  We will talk about the pros and cons of pacifiers and provide safety tips for those parents who decide that a pacifier is right for their baby.

Like many choices that parents will make, the decision to use, or not to use a pacifier is a hotly debated issue.  And, like many choices that parents will make, some pros and cons need to be considered.  The decision is a personal one, and every parent should make that choice for themselves.  Keep in mind that no matter what you decide, the fact is that using pacifiers, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, is safe.  Likewise, choosing not to use a pacifier at all is also a reasonable option.  Do not allow fearmongering or the extreme beliefs of others to influence your decision.  We have faith that you will make the right choice for your baby, and you should too.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released this statement regarding pacifier use:

“Some people believe that using a pacifier can harm a baby. This certainly is not true. Pacifiers do not cause any medical or psychological problems. If your baby wants to suck beyond what nursing or bottle feeding provides, a pacifier will satisfy that need. However, a pacifier should not be used to replace or delay meals. It may be tempting to offer your child a pacifier when it is easy for you. But it is best to let your child decide whether, and when, to use it. Buy pacifiers that are one piece. The two-piece models can come apart and pose a choking hazard. NEVER tie a pacifier to your child's crib, or around your child's neck or hand. This could cause a serious strangulation injury, even death. When your child reaches one year of age, you may want to talk with your pediatrician about how - and when - to start weaning your child from the pacifier.”


Common Beliefs about Pacifiers

Now that you know where the AAP stands on the topic let’s address some common beliefs about pacifiers.


Belief: Pacifiers interfere with breastfeeding   

Verdict: FALSE

Experts agree that pacifiers do not interfere with breastfeeding of full-term infants if introduced at the correct time.  The Mayo Clinic recommends waiting until the baby has established a feeding routine and is at a healthy weight before offering a pacifier.  This is usually at about 3- 4 weeks. 

It is important not to replace feedings with pacifiers.  Whether breast or formula-fed; be sure that your baby is not hungry before offering a pacifier.


Belief: Pacifiers cause dental problems

Verdict: FALSE

Used properly, pacifiers do not affect tooth development or speech patterns.  Parents should stop the use of the pacifier before the age of 2.  Most babies will adjust to weaning before their first birthday

The urge to suck is natural for newborns.  Most babies will suck their fingers in the absence of a pacifier.  It may be easier to break the habit if a pacifier is used.  You can take away a pacifier, but you have no control over fingers.


Belief: Pacifiers reduce the occurrence of SIDS

Verdict: TRUE

This is the most compelling argument in favor of pacifiers.  Though experts do not fully understand why pacifiers reduce SIDS, the numbers indicate that pacifiers do promote safer sleep.

Pacifiers help babies fall asleep faster and reduce SIDS, but you should not worry if it falls out of the baby’s mouth at night.  Never tie the pacifier to the crib or attach it to the baby’s clothing.  This is unsafe and may lead to strangulation. 


Belief: Pacifiers help soothe fussy babies

Verdict: TRUE

Sometimes infants seem inconsolable for no apparent reason.  Pacifiers can help to calm the baby down and to bring relief to overwhelmed parents. 

Be sure that there is no other reason for your baby to be crying before offering a pacifier.  First, check to be sure that the baby is clean and fed.  Next, take their temperature and check their body for signs of rash or injury.  If you have any concerns, you should contact your pedestrian for advice.


Pacifier: Pros & Cons

Here is a handy list the sums up the pros and cons of pacifiers.


  • Soothe fussy babies and brings relief to overwhelmed parents
  • Reduces the incidence of SIDS and helps babies fall asleep faster
  • Easier to control than finger-sucking
  • Safe if used as recommended by the AAP


  • May interfere with feeding routines if introduced too early
  • Affects tooth and speech development if used excessively or for too long
  • Poses safety concerns if misused or sanitized incorrectly


Pacifier Safety Tips

  • Sanitize pacifiers with boiling water before the first use
  • Regularly wash pacifiers with hot soapy water and replace worn or broken products
  • Only use pacifiers that consist of a single molded piece
  • Silicone is preferable to latex - it is less likely to break apart or cause an allergic reaction
  • Don’t use clips or ties to attach a pacifier to your baby - these are strangulation and choking hazards
  • Sign up for a baby product recall newsletter so that you are informed immediately of any alerts


The Right Choice For Your Baby

Now that you have reliable information about pacifiers, you can feel confident that you are making the right decision for your baby.  We have lots of great information to share!  Are there any topics you would like to know more about?  Please check out our other articles or suggest a topic you’d like to see us cover in the comments section.

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