Your baby’s loud cries can sometimes be difficult to cope with, which is when pacifiers come to the rescue. Doctors, however, do not recommend the use of pacifiers and advise that the child must be weaned off as soon as possible.
Dr Subhash Rao, consultant paediatrician, Hiranandani Hospital, told Express Parenting, “From a doctor’s point of view, pacifiers are never recommended because they do not have any benefits other than keeping the child quiet. Babies express themselves only by crying and we don’t want to mar those symptoms.”
When are pacifiers used?
Pacifiers may be used under medical supervision in neonatal intensive care units for a short period of time as the mother is not allowed inside or if the child has a cleft lip and palate (openings or splits in the roof of the mouth and lip). “Parents, however, tend to use pacifiers to keep a child quiet. And that’s harmful,” said the paediatrician.
Disadvantages of using a pacifier
Dr Rao pointed out why parents should avoid relying on pacifiers to calm their child.
1. If the child is hooked to a pacifier, they will not take breast milk properly.
2. There are toddlers with pacifiers, which keep falling off and get contaminated. Such children are therefore susceptible to loose motion and cough and cold attacks.
3. Sometimes, the dentition can also become crooked if the pacifier is used for a long time.
4. The speech of the child with a pacifier can also get affected and lead to delayed speech since the pacifier is always in the mouth and the child does not want to talk.
5. If the child keeps on sucking on the pacifier, he or she takes in a lot of air which can cause gas problems.
How to quit the pacifier
The child should ideally quit the pacifier as early as possible, at least by six months of age, advised Dr Rao. After that it becomes very difficult to wean the child off the pacifier. Here are some ways in which you can wean your child off the pacifier.
1. “The best way would be to put some lemon juice or salt or bitter gourd juice on the pacifier so that the child gets a bitter taste and throws it. There are also some lotions in the market that taste bitter and can be applied on the pacifier,” said the doctor.
2. “You need to divert the child’s attention from the pacifier and engage in things that interest them,” he added.
3. Some experts also suggest the cold turkey method (abrupt and complete cessation) but the process does not have to be cold-hearted. Approach a gentle way to end the habit.
4. Once you take the pacifier away, you can soothe the baby using alternative ways like rocking, soft singing or a gentle massage.