Although it may seem like a harmless habit, pacifiers can cause a litany of health concerns in children, from malformed soft palates to tooth troubles later on. They can be a beneficial alternative to thumb sucking, but between the two, the ideal may be to introduce neither to your child if possible. Pacifiers offer temporary comfort to infants, but the long-term troubles may make you hesitate before you offer it to your baby. Whether the pros outweigh the cons is your decision: make an informed decision and decide based on what is best for your child’s development.
- In some cases, using a pacifier can inhibit a child from gaining weight at a healthy rate for their age. Pacifiers are often used at night to calm crying infants, but nighttime is when a baby consumes about 1/3 of their daily caloric intake through bottle or breastfeeding. Using a pacifier instead of feeding the baby may result in weight loss and nutrition deficiency, leaving your child at-risk for stunted growth.To reduce the risk, try to use a pacifier minimally at night and make certain that your baby’s tears are really cries of sadness rather than hunger cries.
- Does your baby seem to constantly get ear infections, and you can’t seem to pinpoint a reason? The source of their pain may be their pacifier. Pacifiers interrupt development of the middle ear and can result in increased ear pressure and infections.
- Although not linked to most palate disorders, pacifier usage can change or even misshape the soft palate in your child’s mouth. If your child needs soft palate repair, a pacifier may also irritate or slow the healing process, leading to discomfort and risk of infection after the surgery. Pacifiers are unhealthy for soft palate development and can negatively change a child’s mouth.
- Some pacifiers, particularly those worn as a necklace or with large decorations on the front, can be a choking hazard for your baby. When looking at a list of recall items, pacifiers are frequently the culprit of injury reports because they fell apart, wrapped around the baby’s neck, or contained harmful toxins.
- Is there a link between pacifiers and speech development? Some speech pathologists have connected pacifier usage with certain speech disorders. Studies found that children who suck their fingers or use a pacifier were three times as likely to develop a speech disorder. Pacifiers inhibit the development of lip and tongue muscles due to its unnatural position in the mouth, and children who are learning to speak may develop a lisp or find speech difficult.
- Babies who suck on pacifiers can be at risk for dental problems later on; this is one of the predominant concerns of long-term pacifier usage. Because pacifiers can cause mouths to develop abnormally, your baby’s teeth may come in misaligned or slanted due to what dentists affectionately label “pacifier teeth.”
- Some children may exhibit signs of latex allergies you didn’t previously know they had. This can cause any symptoms from mild discomfort to more severe reactions depending on the strength of the allergy. If your child exhibits a rash, redness, or blistering near the mouth and they express significant irritation, your child’s pacifier may be triggering an allergic reaction.
- When raising a child, it’s always important to look at habits in the long-term. Pacifiers may not seem like much, but they can cause serious dental problems as your child grows older. A pacifier carries bacteria that can cause cavities later on, especially if the pacifier is not often washed.
- Babies cling to what gives them comfort: their mother, situations and places where they feel safe, and objects that give them consolation like bottles and pacifiers. While it’s important to teach children self-soothing skills, you may want to find healthier ways that can carry on into childhood. Giving your baby a pacifier at every opportunity may turn a comfort object into a bad habit. The longer it stays, the harder it is for the baby to let go of it later on.
So, the final question arises: to give your baby a pacifier, or to seek alternative methods of self-soothing? There is no one right answer, but taking precautions when using a pacifier and keeping informed about some risks can help you keep your child’s emotional and physical health strong. Put in research about the pros and cons of pacifiers and decide for yourself what is right for your child.