When it comes to child care, one area where some parents and caregivers may differ slightly is the use (or non-use) of pacifiers. These small items that infants and other small children can suck or bite on are often used for fussy children in certain circumstances, but doing so properly and with the right goals in mind is very important if you're going this route.
At Devlin's Child Development, pacifiers are just one of many common items we deal with regularly during our Sandy daycare programs, preschool classes and other child care services. What are the most notable benefits of pacifiers for children, and what are a few cautionary areas to keep track of? Here's everything you need to know about this area.
Pacifier Basics and Benefits
As we noted above, a pacifier refers to the small, baby-sized items that infants and other children can suck or bite on to calm themselves down. When many babies are fussy, they may benefit from the use of pacifiers that can help them feel more comfortable and relaxed.
Here are some of the benefits or uses of pacifiers most commonly carried out by parents:
- Reducing risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS): One of the most notable uses of pacifiers is to simply reduce risk of SIDS or sudden infant death syndrome. This condition sees infants suddenly stop breathing and die with little warning, often during sleep. However, pacifier use has been found to help reduce this risk, especially when it's done before sleeping time.
- Soothing or calming: By placing a pacifier in your baby's mouth, it can reduce crying and other fussy behaviors. In an effort to be more comfortable or calm themselves down, babies may find that a pacifier works well for them in the right circumstances.
- Preventing misbehavior: Using a pacifier can also help prevent misbehavior such as thumb-sucking or the use of fingers to soothe themselves. As much as this habit can be cute in infants, it's something that should be stopped before it becomes an issue for older children who can end up with dental problems.
While pacifiers may have multiple benefits for your child, it's important to take some care when using them. Here are a couple important themes:
- If you're planning to breastfeed your infant, take care not to introduce a pacifier too early in their life. Babies latch onto human nipples differently from how they latch onto pacifiers, so using a pacifier too early can disrupt breastfeeding.
- Be sure not to attach a pacifier to a cord or string, as this poses a choking hazard.
- Research the age at which your child should begin weaning off their pacifier -- use for too long into their developmental years could lead to dental and oral health issues.
For more on the proper use of a pacifier, or to learn about any of our child care programs in Sandy, speak to the staff at Devlin's Child Development today.