UA current approach to pacifier use
Pacifiers come in an infinite number of shapes, models, materials and sizes.
In the face of such offer, mums might be left confused about which one is the right type for their baby and many might even wonder if it is really necessary to use one at all.
Why should this small “huge” object be used?
The pacifier helps to soothe your baby’s anxiety upon arrival to a new and unknown world. When sucking, a reflex that comes with us at birth, your baby manages to disconnect from this unexpected universe that, sometimes, confronts him or her to unpredictable and distressing situations. This phase is considered a “non-nutritive sucking.”
This survival reflex, in addition to assuring nourishment, can be favored by offering a pacifier, which will continue a “non-nutritive sucking” thus assuring breathing control and reducing apnea periods.
When is it advisable to use a pacifier?
*I suggest using one only when correct sucking with breast has been established.
*When you end feeding your baby, and you notice the child demands a longer sucking period, using a pacifier is a good way of satisfying such need of “non-nutritive sucking.”
*When you notice that your baby finds self-satisfaction by sucking his or her thumb, because it is a habit difficult to take away.
*When your baby suffers from colic, sucking helps release tension caused by pain.
The pacifier in an ally to offer calmness and it has a double beneficial effect. A calm baby helps the mom to relax too. If you are too anxious, you feel anguish when he or she cries and are not capable of soothing your child, resulting in an unbeneficial circle that your baby can perceive, and this probably increases the child’s anguish and crying. In these circumstances, the pacifier serves its purpose.
The pacifier is usually lost, so it is ideal to have more than one for replacement.
Perhaps, your baby rejects the pacifier, and according to my experience there are two possibilities: the baby performs the “non-nutritive sucking” at the breast because the mom cannot identify the end of “nutritive sucking” or the pacifier does not satisfy such sucking need, since the child finds it is different from the mom’s breast.
Latex pacifiers are soft, expandable and they also adapt to the palate not deforming it. Silicone pacifiers last longer and some babies who are fed with “artificial supplements” get used to and accept them. I suggest not changing the model once your baby has accepted one.
When is it not advisable to use pacifier?
When you resume breastfeeding after there had been some difficulty.
When your baby as from the beginning was fed with a bottle and then you decide to breastfeed.
When you notice that breastfeeding becomes more difficult, and you cannot achieve good nipple to mouth contact.
When you delay your child’s taking the breast after birth.
When the intention is to delay or substitute the baby’s desire to eat, since this alters breastfeeding.
Stage of regulated use of pacifier
The use of pacifier must be regulated, even more when the baby is 1 year old, since this is the time to start taking the pacifier away.
At his stage:
*The baby starts to develop the speaking skills and the use of a pacifier is no longer beneficial, since it may cause an unhealthy physiological development, with a possible delay in communication development.
*The wandering and exploration stage begins, and the pacifier should not be used to “shut the mouth” so as to prevent crying when rescuing the child for a risky situation, and it should neither be used as an object replacing “attention,” since it might affect the child’s psychological and emotional development.
*When the child is one year old, he or she is half-way to completing the primary teeth, so the regulated use of a pacifier is appropriate to avoid teeth and palate malformation.
*Upon completing the development of primary teeth, the prolonged use of a pacifier during the day generates the habit of breathing through the mouth. If the child presents an upper respiratory tract infection (e.g. a cold) he would be prone to otitis (ear infection).
So I recommend the family, as from the first birthday of the child, to consider the pacifier as help for specific purposes, such as getting asleep or in case of anxiety-triggering situations.
How to take the pacifier away?
Some children just stop using it on their own accord, but in other cases the decision is made by the parents. In this case, there are some counterproductive situations to take the pacifier away, such as the birth of a little brother or sister, a move, a journey, mourning, changes that may cause anguish and anxiety in the child. It is not advisable either to start taking the pacifier away jointly with the taking away of diapers, a change of cradle or bed, during weaning or temporary absence of parents; any change should be made one by one, so that they are clear, well-established and create no confusion or regression.
You should choose a time when there is no change or tension at home, to provide the child soothing and confidence.
One possibility is to agree with the child that he or she is using the last pacifier. If it is lost or broken, there will be no other pacifier.
To tell the child off for using it is an ambiguous attitude that may make it difficult to take the pacifier away. It must be taken into account that the people who introduced the pacifier to their world to soothe them, now decide it is no longer necessary.
If your baby cries too much, you have to soothe him or her with games, walks, cuddling, caressing and kissing.
This element is neither indispensable nor disposable: it has a functional utility depending on each child’s needs. For parents it may be a soothing complement, but it is important not to overshadow the essence of upbringing as regards the child’s needs: our caring, love and patience.
BELKIS B. PONGETTI
CHILD CARE AND UPBRINGING UNIVERSITY DEGREE (TÉCNICA UNIVERSITARIA EN PUERICULTURA Y CRIANZA)
BREASTFEEDING AND MOTHER-BABY BONDING EXPERT