Some mothers feel that a pacifier is a necessary part of having a young baby. A soother can help to calm a baby that is constantly fussing, and help the baby get to sleep better. However, there are some things you should be aware of, do’s and don’ts when it comes to giving your baby a pacifier.
– Introduce a pacifier after breastfeeding is well established. It is important for your child to latch and learn how to nurse properly. When a soother is introduced too early, the child can become confused and not nurse properly. Be patient as this can take a few weeks. The AAP recommends waiting until a child is at least 1 month old before using a pacifier.
– Let your child set the pace. Some infants are simply NOT interested in a pacifier and will spit it out. Don’t force a child to take a soother. Try again later, or just forget about it. Never force the issue with the child.
– Buy Safe 1-Piece Pacifiers. Never choose a 2-piece pacifier, even if they are cheaper or cuter. They present real dangers of choking and should be avoided. Always buy a 1-piece pacifier that is also dishwasher safe so it can be properly cleaned and sterilized each day.
– Always have extras on hand. One of the things you can expect is that you will lose pacifiers, lots of them! Always buy in bulk so you have a few on hand if one gets lost, damaged, soiled when you cannot clean it, or is worn out.
– Always keep the pacifier clean. Before first use, all pacifiers should be washed in soap and water and thoroughly rinsed and dried. Alternately, you can clean it in the dishwasher. Pacifiers must be rinsed under hot water after each use or incident when it falls and gets dirty. Once each day, all pacifiers should be cleaned, either by hand or in the dishwasher. As an extra precaution to ward off fungus and bacteria growth, soak the soother in equal parts of vinegar and water for 3-5 minutes.
– Don’t use your mouth. No matter what, you should not use your own mouth to rinse off a pacifier. In doing so, you are only promoting the spread of germs to your baby. Instead, rinse the soother under hot water for 30 seconds.
– Don’t use worn out pacifiers. You must watch for visible signs of pacifier deterioration and replace it immediately. A worn, cracked or damaged nipple on a pacifier can easily tear off, especially you’re your baby starts cutting teeth and it can become a choking hazard.
– Don’t use a strap in bed. Although it is a great tool when you are out shopping or in the stroller, you should not use a clip or strap when your child is sleeping, in bed or unattended. The strap can get caught around your infant’s neck.
– Don’t plug the baby. It happens all the time… baby is fast asleep and mom or dad goes over and replaces the pacifier into the baby’s mouth after it has fallen out. Don’t encourage dependency. Only use the pacifier when it is needed – to calm or soothe the child.
– Don’t use it as the only way to calm your baby. Don’t use a pacifier as a first solution to a fussing baby – by doing this you are grossly encouraging your child’s dependency on the pacifier. Try walking, talking calmly, playing music or rocking the baby before resorting to the soother. If the child may be hungry, offer the breast or bottle before the pacifier.
– Don’t be afraid to wean. Most children should stop using a pacifier by the age of 2, but most definitely by the age of 4. When the child is old enough to drink from a sippy cup and express their needs and wants, they are old enough to be weaned from the pacifier.