baby dummy question
April 4, 2006 5:45 PM   Subscribe

BabyFilter: Are there any theoretical or actual risks or issues associated with using a(n orthodontically correct) baby's dummy (pacifier)?
posted by wilful to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
Who is using it? You, or the baby?
posted by MeetMegan at 5:57 PM on April 4, 2006

When our first child was born we swore we wouldn't give him a dummy. We ended up giving in pretty swiftly, because it worked. All our other kids used them too with no ill effects. If you're worried about them not giving it up, I can only quote my mother: "You never saw an 18 year old with a dummy, did you?"
posted by TiredStarling at 6:11 PM on April 4, 2006

Best answer: There have been studies recently that show pacifiers can reduce the risk of SIDS (or crib death). Anecdotal evidence and some baby books say pacifiers can delay speech development or make a child's teeth crooked, but I don't believe either of these is true if you're sensible and don't let your five year old suck on one 24/7. :)

Really there's nothing wrong with using a pacifier for comfort, although the biggest problem is that they fall out during the night and the baby will wake up and be unable to pop it back in themselves. My son had one for sleeping at night until he was about 18 months old and then it "went missing" mysteriously one day and he learned to sleep without it in a couple of nights.

Interestingly, we didn't use a pacifier for our second child because she didn't seem to need to suck for comfort the way our son did. But instead she learned to suck on her fingers later on. It's a whole lot easier to wean a toddler from a pacifier that you can take away than weaning a finger-sucking child, unless you want to remove the offending digits.
posted by tracicle at 6:19 PM on April 4, 2006

Pacifiers come in a bunch of different sizes - tiny ones for infants and then increasing in size for older and larger babies. My mother and aunts all swear that if you stick to the smallest size, the baby will grow out of using one because it will stop being satisfying.
posted by Orrorin at 6:50 PM on April 4, 2006 [1 favorite]

I didn't use a pacifier with my son -- if I needed to pacify him, I did that myself. He sucked his thumb when he was very tiny, but stopped when he started on solids at six months. I had been told by a speech pathologist that use of a pacifier can interfere with language development, but some sources say it's okay as long as you wean by six months. I think all the major authorities say wean from the pacifier by six months (and wean from sippy cup by 12 months). I guess you have to question whether you want your kid sucking on plastic all day and whether you want to keep them from learning to self-soothe. I'm not sure what is released by plastic and I didn't want to expose my son to it more than necessary -- but I'm not especially "granola". My son started sleeping through the night at three weeks and was sleeping 11 hours by seven weeks. He was a very calm baby, because I breastfed on demand and for as long as he wanted and held him all the time. He doesn't suck his thumb and he started saying words by about 11 months. YMMV.
posted by acoutu at 6:53 PM on April 4, 2006

The one very real risk is that teething children will tend to bite on the pacifier. That, in turn, can cause the rubber part to break off, and cause the child to choke.

Other than that, let 'em have at it if it keeps them quiet. My daughter was almost 2 before we could get her completely off it, with no apparent ill effects.
posted by deadmessenger at 7:35 PM on April 4, 2006

Best answer: This is the Kellymom (a breastfeeding resource site) info page on pacifiers; it includes many links to relevant studies and articles. Basically, it's recommended to limit/not use pacifiers or bottles in the first 6 weeks of breastfeeding to ensure the milk supply gets adequate stimulation (this is the guideline I usually hear; Kellymom says at least the first 3-4 weeks, ideally after 6 weeks; that is not always possible, unfortunately - if a mother has to go back to work fulltime at 6 weeks then she usually wants to ensure the baby will take bottles of expressed milk and has to try earlier). Every time the baby is using an artificial nipple, s/he is not using the breast, and that could lead to supply issues.

Other concerns include pacifier use being linked with more instances of ear infections, thrush, earlier weaning, and the aforementioned teeth misalignment or speech problems. Then the practical issues of babies that need the paci to sleep/stay asleep, and maybe not learning to self-soothe with fingers, thumb, or other ways, instead relying on the paci and being hard to soothe if it gets lost, etc. (self-soothing is important for a baby to figure out IMO - and it certainly makes the parents' lives a lot easier).

Personally I haven't used a paci with either of my sons (we did try to get my first to accept it when he was upset/we were desperate on a long car trip, but he wanted no part of it). I can't see reasonable, limited use being of much harm, aside from being careful to avoid breastfeeding problems.

Aside to acoutu: wean from sippy cup by 12 months? Did you mean bottle nipples? I haven't heard that (re: sippy cups) before, and I'm curious to know where you did. My son couldn't reliably drink without spills from an open cup by himself until he was past 2, so we used sippies.
posted by Melinika at 8:40 PM on April 4, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers. Boy is now 4 weeks old. Breast attachment and breast supply are no problem, he's doing more than capably on that front. The problem is when he has a feed, wakes up only an hour later, and grizzles constantly after that (mostly at night), he's not sure if he's hungry or what. When he accidentally gets his hand into his mouth it shuts him up for a while.

Thinking that a dummy will help a lot. I like the idea of only using the small one, then he'll self-wean off it.
posted by wilful at 9:26 PM on April 4, 2006

Melinika, my community health nurse told me about the sippy cups, but I also heard it from my community speech and language pathologist, community nutritionist, doctor and other resources. There's some sort of push from the health authorities to rename sippy cups "trainer cups" so that parents understand that they are supposed to wean by 12 months. I didn't use a sippy cup with my son, because I taught him to drink from a cup when he was four months old (I never introduced a bottle). However, when he got to 11 months, he started throwing or dumping his cup. Since I knew you weren't supposed to use a sippy cup past 12 months, I asked around for advice. The resources pointed me to toddler straw cups. Apparently, sipping from a cup is okay because it uses different muscles. However, you still want to practice using a regular cup to help build the muscles and skills tied to taking liquid into the mouth, as opposed to sucking it. There might be something on Kellymom about all that -- I can't remember.

FWIW, the pacifier and SIDS study should be compared to studies of breastfed babies and SIDS.
posted by acoutu at 9:31 PM on April 4, 2006

As Melinka says, your boy may not even take a pacifier, so this conversation may be all theoretical.

My 2nd born wouldn't take a pacifier, despite our desperate attempts. We've got pretty much every model on the market in our house somewhere.
posted by Brando_T. at 3:40 AM on April 5, 2006

acoutu: I appreciate your response - I had never heard that before. My first did use a straw pretty often and the second one can do it, so I will look into the straw cups. We use regular cups a good deal, but they both want to "do it myself" a lot and the little one can't at all manage his own open cup without a big mess. Thanks for the info!
posted by Melinika at 9:03 AM on April 5, 2006

"You never saw an 18 year old with a [pacifier], did you?"

you obviously don't live in london or nyc.
posted by mdn at 9:57 AM on April 5, 2006

I've never seen an 18 year old with a pacifier, but I did have the experience of sitting next to a 3 year old recently who kept hers in her mouth th entire time she spoke. Her mom understood her, but I certainly didn't.

We did the whole no paci, no bottles, no sippies after a year thing with wee-Biblio #2 and pretty much for all the reasons stated above. The boy is now six, with perfect teeth, articulate speech and wonderful sleeping habits. Could be coincidence.

Anyway, one reason babies seem to need to nurse again very soon after falling asleep is that their first feed nets them foremilk, which is thinner and more of a thirst slaker than hindmilk. If they fall asleep before the hindmilk flows, they digest the foremilk quickly, and then wake up VERY hungry and ready to stay latched on the whole night. Some moms actually have a hindmilk/foremilk imbalance,while with most I think it's a matter of timing. A paci can hurt matters here, in that a mildly fussy baby will be somewhat soothed by one, but by the time mom is ready to nurse the baby is tired and conks out before getting totally full.

I'm not a doctor, just a former lactating wonder.
posted by Biblio at 10:44 AM on April 5, 2006

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