Pacifiers: Should Your Baby Use Them?
What doctors, scientists, and parents should weigh when making their decision
Breaking up with Binky
The silver lining in this cloud is that unlike a thumb, children can be weaned from a pacifier. And the sooner you do it, the better. According to the American Dental Association, “Children who continue to use pacifiers past the age of three show a higher prevalence of altered dental arches and abnormal lip and cheek mobility compared to those who never used a pacifier.”
After 18 years of pediatric dentistry, Dr. Snodgrass recommends ditching the binky between 14 and 16 months of age. “We’ve found that the best way to get the children off the pacifier is to simply place every one of them in the house in a plastic freezer bag, shake them in front of the child, and tell them they are going to take them to their pediatrician (or Dr. Snodgrass) so he can give them to the little babies at the hospital. The next time the child asks for them, blame it on me. Another way is to simply gradually cut back on the nipple size by cutting a little off each week.” (This “snipping the tip” technique worked like a charm for the author and her 22-month-old daughter.)
Take these precautions when using a pacifier:
- Never tie a pacifier around a baby’s neck. No matter how many times baby drops it, never put the binky on a string. It could strangle your baby in seconds.
- Inspect pacifiers for wear and replace them often. A baby can choke on a tiny bit of rubber sucked loose from an old binky.
- Don’t make homemade pacifiers out of bottle nipples. They don’t have a wide enough base to prevent inhalation and choking. They also have a hole in the end that causes your baby to suck in air, creating gas and hiccups.
- You wouldn’t use the same dirty fork meal after meal and day after day, so wash your baby’s pacifiers often to avoid bacteria build-up.
- Disregard the “three second rule” when the binky hits the floor. As clean as your floor may appear, it can harbor traces of animal feces, tar, garbage and other nasties tracked in by pets and shoes.
- Never dip a pacifier in honey. Honey eaten by babies under one year can cause infant botulism—a sometimes fatal disease.
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