Should You Give Your Baby a Pacifier? Pros and Cons

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New parents have to make countless decisions about how they plan to raise their children. One question you’ll have to decide is whether or not to give your baby a pacifier. While they are incredibly common, these baby-soothing tools aren’t without their downsides. Read on to make an informed decision.

Pro: Reduces SIDS Risk

The biggest pro in favor of pacifiers is that they can help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Con: Dependency

Babies become adapted to pacifiers very quickly and don’t like it when that soothing nub of silicone is taken away unexpectedly. It can be a very hard habit to break long-term as well.

Pro: Soothes and Distracts

Most parents choose a pacifier because it helps keeps babies calm. Whether it’s comforting a crying baby or distracting them after a booster shot, pacifiers can help, well, pacify your little one.

Con: Less Frequent Breast Feeding

Starting a pacifier too early in your baby’s development could make them struggle with breast feeding. While there’s more research needed, some infants seem to develop a preference for pacifiers over nipples.

Pro: Makes Travel Bearable

If you’re going on a car trip or–even worse–flying with a baby in tow, pacifiers can be a lifesaver. Keeping baby quiet and content can reduce distractions while you drive, and other passengers will thank you for the lack of screaming. Pacifiers can also help with the pressure changes in an airplane cabin.

Con: Dental Problems

Nobody wants to spend thousands of dollars on orthodontia, but you might be setting your child up for braces in the future if you give them a pacifier now. Long-term pacifier use can cause dental problems down the road.

Pro: Better Than Thumbs

Your baby has a strong instinct to suckle, and they’ll often turn to fingers, thumbs or toes to soothe themselves. If you use a pacifier, you can (hopefully) prevent them from developing a thumb-sucking habit instead.

Con: Ear Infections

Earaches are terrible for little ones (and their caregivers), so you should know that pacifier use is linked to greatly increased chances of developing repeat ear infections.

Con: Potential Toxins

Do you know what that pacifier is made out of? If you do choose to use one, make sure it’s BPA free and produced by a reputable brand.