Dads sometimes get a bum rap for not knowing enough about babies, their gear, and baby safety. Sometimes that reputation is earned, but sometimes it isn’t.
If you want to be an involved dad, start early. Help make some of the smaller decisions instead of just the larger ones affecting your baby. But before you decide anything, educate yourself first. If you’re trying to decide whether your baby should use a pacifier or avoid it like the plague, you need to show your partner you know what you’re talking about when you offer your opinion.
Here’s a cheat sheet you can use to sound like you’ve got a great grasp on this whole parenting thing.
They’re Great For Calming Babies Down
Not all babies enjoy taking a pacifier so that choice may be out of your hands. But for the majority of babies, a pacifier is a great way to soothe themselves. The sucking motion is calming to babies, and it’s something they can do with or without feeling hungry. Even if they’ve just been fed, they might welcome a pacifier as they drift off to sleep.
It Reduces the Risk of SIDS
You can cut back on your baby’s risk of SIDS just by giving them a pacifier when they sleep. If you’re using it as SIDS prevention, you should give it to them during a nap or before you lay them down in their crib at night.
It Can Cause Breastfeeding Confusion
If your partner plans to breastfeed, you shouldn’t introduce a pacifier until your baby is about one month old. That’s because sucking a pacifier isn’t anything at all like sucking a nipple for breastfeeding. While it’s the most natural thing in the world, a lot of babies can struggle to find the correct latch. You don’t want to confuse this process by giving them a pacifier too soon.
If you give them a pacifier before that, it doesn’t mean your partner will have to give up breastfeeding — it just means it might take more work to keep your baby on track.
It Increases the Risk of Ear Infections
There is a clear link between pacifier usage and the frequency of ear infections. Ear infections are a common childhood problem, and they can be treated successfully with antibiotics. If you’ve ever had an ear infection, however, you know how painful they can be.
If your child is prone to ear infections, you may want to stop the pacifier as soon as possible, and that might help improve their odds. Since your child’s risk of ear infections before they reach six months of age is still relatively low, you might choose to give them a pacifier to help with their SIDS risk, and then weed it out after that six-month mark.
If your child doesn’t want to give up the pacifier and continues to use it in their toddler years, it can cause abnormal development of the teeth and jaw alignment, as well as issues with the roof of the mouth development and bite problems.
To avoid these issues from pacifier use, make sure your baby gives up the pacifier by their second birthday. The risk of SIDS will be over by then, and every minute a child spends with their pacifier in their mouth at that age is time they won’t be practicing speaking words. So it’s best they give the pacifier up by then anyway.
Getting your child to quit taking the pacifier can be a difficult battle. But for other babies, it’s a fairly easy habit to break.
To get around co-dependency issues, you can give your baby the pacifier only at naptime or bed time, avoiding it the rest of the day. And when the pacifier falls out of their mouth while they are sleeping, you don’t have to put it back in unless they are fussing.
By limiting the usage as much as possible, you might not have such a hard battle awaiting you before your baby’s second birthday.
One reason parents are hesitant to allow their baby to have a pacifier is because they see them as choking hazards. And they’re right to be concerned.
If a baby chews on its pacifier enough to compromise the nipple, a chunk of it could break out and choke your baby’s small airpipe. Other pacifiers have more than one piece to them, which means there is a potential that a part could snap off, end up in your baby’s mouth, and be dangerous in that respect.
To avoid the risk of choking, you can buy a one-piece pacifier. And you should routinely inspect the rubber or silicone nipple on the pacifier to make sure it isn’t cracking or ripping.
This blog is part of Fathers Incorporated’s Drive To Five campaign. The campaign design seeks to reduce father absence by engaging dads at the early stages of their child’s development, which makes them more likely to continue their involvement through all of the stages of their development. For more information visit www.drivetofive.org