Babies are born with a sucking reflex, which not only allows them to feed instinctively but also offers comfort when they are tired or unsettled. Some babies suck their thumb or fingers while in the womb. Some need to suck in order to relax and/or fall asleep. If used properly, a pacifier can be a safe way to satisfy this need—but before you pop a latex or silicon soother in your baby’s mouth The Canadian Pediatric Society has some advice.
Don’t introduce a pacifier until breastfeeding is well-established. If given too early to breastfed babies it may interfere with the baby’s willingness to latch onto the breast, which helps stimulate your milk supply.
Don’t use the pacifier as a substitute for feeding. Always consider if a crying baby is hungry, tired or in pain before reaching for the pacifier.
Do sterilize a new pacifier for five minutes in boiling water before first use and clean it with warm soapy water between uses.
Don’t tie a pacifier around a baby’s neck. Instead, use the Baby Life Pacifier Clip, which has a short ribbon attached for added safety.
Do check a pacifier for cracks or tears before giving it to a baby. Replace pacifiers every two months before damage occurs.
Don’t make your own pacifier out of bottle nipples, caps or other materials. This can cause choking.
While a pacifier will likely cause fewer problems with tooth development than sucking on a thumb, it can be quite difficult to quit when the time comes. By 12 months parents should consider helping their child break the habit. It is recommended that you do it gradually and start by limiting daytime use and then eventually taking it out of the night-time routine as well.
Don’t use punishment or humiliation to force your child to give up the pacifier.
Do offer lots of praise to your child when she has given up the pacifier.
Don’t give the pacifier back to your child once the habit has been broken (no matter how nicely she asks!).