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The ABC's of Pacifiers

August 23, 2022

The ABC's of Pacifiers

 A pacifier can seem like magic: It’s easy, quick and for many babies it turns on the comfort and turns off the tears.

There's no denying that pacifiers can work remarkably well at comforting your baby, especially if she has a strong need to suck but hasn't yet figured out how to get her fingers in her mouth. But there are some potential pitfalls to be aware of before introducing your baby to a pacifier. Here's what you need to know about giving your baby a pacifier.

Should you give your baby a pacifier?

Yes, you can definitely try giving your baby a pacifier. Whether your baby is fussy or she needs some help getting to sleep at bedtime, pacifiers can be an essential component of reducing the fuss factor.

Pacifiers can also come in handy if your little one needs a distraction at the doctor's office or if her ears start popping on an airplane.

On the other hand, some babies show little interest in them, especially if they find their thumb or their fingers first. And pacifiers do have some downsides, so weigh both the positives and negatives to make a decision that's best for your baby. 

When should you introduce a pacifier to your baby?

It’s best to ensure that your baby has gotten the hang of breastfeeding (by around 3 or 4 weeks old) before you introduce a pacifier. That's because the sucking mechanism for breastfeeding is different from that used for sucking on a pacifier.

Pacifier pros and cons

Should you pop that binky into your baby’s mouth at the first whimper? Here are some pacifier pros and cons to take into consideration:

Pros of pacifiers

  • Using a pacifier decreases the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). One theory as to why is that sucking on a pacifier might help open up air space around a baby's mouth and nose, which ensures she gets enough oxygen. 
  • The pacifier is in your control. That can be a good thing when nothing but plunking that pacifier in your baby’s mouth will generate calm. Plus, unlike the thumb (which is in baby’s control) you decide when it’s time for your baby to give up the binky, though whether your baby will put up a fight is another issue. In fact, research has shown that finger- and thumb-sucking can be a harder habit to break.
  • Pacifiers can serve as a necessary distraction in a pinch. They're an easy way to soothe your baby if her ears start popping on a flight or if she’s about to get a shot at the doctor. Many parents rely on them to calm crying babies down quickly.
  • Pacifiers can help babies learn to self-soothe, including at naptime and bedtime. They can help your baby get to sleep faster and learn how to fall asleep on her own.

Cons of pacifiers

  • Your baby may get attached to the pacifier. It can be a tough habit to break, especially once your baby turns into a more strong-willed toddler.
  • It can become a bad habit for you too. If you plunk in the pacifier at the first sign of a squall, you might overlook the real reasons for baby's tears (a tummy ache, an uncomfortable diaper). The result may be a baby who can only be happy with something in her mouth, and who is unable to comfort herself in any other way.
  • It could result in less sleep for everyone. Babies who regularly use a pacifier to go to sleep might not learn how to fall asleep on their own — and they might put up a sniffly fuss when the binky gets lost in the middle of the night (requiring you to get up and get it for her … each time she wakes up). Of course, though inconvenient, this is a pretty minor downside compared with the significant pro of safer sleep for pacifier-using newborns, and it can actually help babies learn to self-soothe and sleep better.
  • Pacifiers might increase the risk of ear infections. But this isn’t the case before 6 months, when the risk of ear infections is at its lowest.

Which Pacifier Material Is Best?


Pacifier nipples come in three materials:

  1. Silicone: These nipples are strong, durable, easy to clean and don’t retain odors. But they aren’t as soft and flexible as latex.
  2. Latex: Nipples made from latex are softer, but they wear out quickly and tend to retain odors. If your child has a latex allergy, you’ll need to avoid these pacifiers.
  3. Natural rubber: One-piece natural rubber pacifiers are a great choice for parents who want to avoid harmful toxins. While all pacifiers have been BPA-free since 1999, natural rubber pacis are also free from chemicals such as PVC, phthalates, parabens, chemical softeners and artificial colorants. They tend to be more rigid than silicone or latex, but some babies prefer the solid feel. They’re also more expensive than traditional pacifiers.

Which Shape should you Choose?

Pacifier nipples—the part the baby sucks on—come in different shapes. The main shapes are cylindrical (like a tiny hotdog), cherry (round at the end), butterfly (flatter and wider), and orthodontic (beveled on one side like a tube of lipstick). Look at the nipple shape rather than the wording on the package as brands use various terms to describe the nipple shape. 

Your baby’s preference ultimately decides which shape to use. But extra consideration is given for babies who breastfeed and for babies with teeth. 

Babies who breastfeed may benefit from using a shape that promotes tongue placement and movement similar to breastfeeding. The cylindrical and cherry shapes allow the sides of the tongue to elevate and cup around the nipple, just like it does during breastfeeding. An additional benefit of the cylindrical shape is that it slightly widens at the base and allows the baby’s lips to rest in a slightly open position compared to the cherry (or other) shapes that narrow where the lips meet. If you are breastfeeding, start with the cylindrical shape. If your baby doesn’t like it, try a cherry shape. If you baby still objects, it is okay to try the other shapes, too. 

The most important aspect to consider is will your baby accept the pacifier? Some babies will continuously spit out the pacifier. If this happens, see if your baby is willing to suck on a different shape. If you find that you have to hold the pacifier in your baby’s mouth, or if you need to use a pacifier weighted with a stuffed animal to keep it in your baby’s mouth, try a different shape. Your baby should be able to suck on the pacifier without assistance, and spit it out when s/he is finished. If your baby can’t suck on any shape of pacifier, and you feel concerned, consider working with a pediatric speech language pathologist or occupational therapist. 

In the end, choosing a pacifier that supports your baby’s suck is more important than choosing a decorative pacifier. 

Impact of Pacifiers on Teeth

When we normally introduce a pacifier to our newborn baby we do not think about their teeth. Instead, we want to care for our baby, to calm it down, and to secure its comfort. From birth babies have a natural sucking reflex, and the child will seek to satisfy this need from a pacifier, the mother’s breast, thumb, or other. From a dental point of view is it better to provide a pacifier to prevent the baby from sucking on its thumb.

“One of the benefits of pacifiers is to prevent that the baby starts sucking on the thumb. Concerning teeth and jaws, the pacifier is preferable. It is very difficult for the baby to stop using his or her thumb whereas a pacifier can be taken away from the baby much more easily”. - Nina Nissen Falbert, Dentist

Stop in time

But as the baby grows and develops it is important to start considering teeth and gum impact. “Many studies have shown that if your child stop using a pacifier before the age of three, the teeth’s position generally gets normalized without treatment later in life” - Nina Nissen Falbert, Dentist

It is important as with anything to wean your baby off their pacifier in small, gradual moments to adjust their mindset and get them used to live without it but still providing that comfort when it is needed at the toddler phase.

If it is not possible to wean the baby off the pacifier before the age of three, try to get the baby to use the pacifier as little as possible and with the least possible intensity.

It is important to remember that all children are different, and it is the long-term use of the pacifier that influences the alignment of the teeth. It will depend on how much they use it, for how long, and the intensity. You know your child best, and if you are in doubt, you should take the advice of your dentist.

Why we support BIBS pacifiers…

The Original  BIBS pacifier has been on the market since 1978. It has the signature round BIBS shield with three vent holes and round BIBS engraved handle ring. 


Design


The nipple on the BIBS Colour and Boheme pacifier is a round nipple that resembles the shape and size of the mother’s nipple to provide comfort to your baby. Further, the round nipple promotes a similar tongue placement and sucking technique when breastfeeding, since the round shape allows the sides of the tongue to elevate and cup around the nipple, just like it does during breastfeeding.


The nipple is equipped with a valve, letting out air when the baby closes down on the nipple. This ventilation system causes the air from inside the nipple to be pushed out through the valve thereby flattening the nipple to shape naturally after the baby’s oral cavity. The valve is also the reason why water can be presented inside the nipple after cleaning and sterilization. If this is the case, simply just squeeze the nipple flat to press out the excess water.

The round lightweight shield is carefully designed to curve away from the sensitive and delicate skin around the baby’s mouth, to ensure minimum contact with the baby’s nose and mouth, which means less chance of moisture build-up from saliva that can cause rashes and sore spots.

Material

The shields on all BIBS pacifiers are made of 100% food-safe material. Completely free from BPA, PVC, and phthalates and in compliance with the European Standard EN 1400+A2.

The nipple is produced from natural rubber latex. Natural Rubber latex is a natural material made from a sticky milky fluid tapped from the Hevea tree. The fluid is refined to the brown/yellow rubber you know from your pacifiers; a super soft, elastic, and resilient material very much resembling the mother’s soft nipple. The natural material comes with a natural aging process affected by natural influences like UV light, air, saliva, and heat. The elasticity of the material allows the nipple to change shape and size because of the baby’s strong vacuum, this means that the nipple in some cases can expand if it is not replaced in time. 

Safety

All BIBS pacifier shields are carefully designed with holes. This is both to ensure minimum contact with the sensitive and delicate skin around the baby’s mouth, which means less chance of moisture build-up from saliva that can cause rashes and sore spots, but it also ensures that in the case where the child put the entire pacifier in their mouth, the baby can still get air. If you experience this, calmly take out the pacifier from the child’s mouth. The shield complies with strict requirements to size and shape and cannot be swallowed.


Replacement 

We recommend a replacement of pacifiers every 4-6 weeks for both safety and hygienic reasons. Natural rubber latex is a natural material and is affected by sunlight, high temperatures, and moisture which accelerates the aging process of the latex material. Therefore, the material changes its properties and can become brittle or sticky. Whenever you experience a change in the material the pacifier must be replaced.

Keep an eye out for any changes in the surface, changes in size and shape, or rupture in the material, and replace the pacifier if you notice any differences. When your baby has teeth make sure to pull the nipple in all directions and inspect it carefully before use and replace the pacifier at the first sign of damage or weakness.

Keep an eye on the nipple size as latex can expand rather quickly due to the newborn’s strong vacuum. Changes in size can create challenges when replacing the pacifiers if the baby has gotten used to the expanded size. 




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