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Newborn Basics

To Give Or Not To Give: Pacifier Pros And Cons

Is it good or bad to give baby a pacifier? Here are the benefits and drawbacks.

Forget politics! Once you're a parent, pacifiers are a farmore intense topic of discussion. Here are the pros and cons, spelled out by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Pros

  • Babies love to suck—a pacifier can soothe a fusspot or help a night-waker fall back to sleep on his or her own.

  • Pacifiers provide distraction, buying you time to make a bottle or finish a phone call before nursing. A pacifier can also work wonders while baby's getting shots.

  • Research links bedtime pacifier use with a decreased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

  • The pacifier habit is much easier to break than thumb-sucking- simply throw it away when it's time.

Cons

  • Starting baby with a pacifier too early may interfere with breastfeeding, because sucking a nipple requires a different technique than sucking a pacifier (or bottle). The AAP recommends waiting a month before giving a baby a pacifier, which will help him or her learn to nurse first.

  • If baby uses the pacifier at night, you might experience some loud pre-dawn protests when it falls out of his or her mouth and he or she can't find it.

  • Using a pacifier may increase the incidence of ear infections. Keep in mind, though, that middle ear infection rates are lowest during the first six months- when the risk of SIDS is highest. The trade off might be worth it.

Ultimately, the choice is yours—and baby's. Wait a month after delivery to establish a solid feeding routine, then try a pacifier if you'd like. If baby takes to it, great; if not, toss it.

By Paula Kashtan