Most babies have a strong sucking reflex. Some babies even suck their thumbs or fingers before they’re born. Beyond nutrition, sucking often has a soothing, calming effect. That’s why many parents rank pacifiers as must-haves, right up there with diaper wipes and baby swings.
For most babies, pacifiers are the key to contentment between feedings. Here are some of the advantages of using a pacifier.
Some babies are happiest when they’re sucking on something. Pacifiers may also help soothe your baby during common medical procedures, such as when he or she gets an immunization (also called a shot) or a blood test.
Pacifiers provide a calming effect and have been used for pain and anxiety prevention. A subgroup of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) lists pacifiers as one of the key methods for pain relief in newborns and infants younger than six months undergoing minor procedures in the emergency department.
A Pacifier Offers Temporary Distraction
A pacifier might come in handy during and after shots, blood tests or other procedures.
A Pacifier Might Help Your Baby Fall Asleep
If your baby has trouble settling down, a pacifier might do the trick.
A Pacifier Might Ease Discomfort During Flights
Babies can’t intentionally “pop” their ears by swallowing or yawning to relieve ear pain caused by air pressure changes. Sucking on a pacifier might help.
A Pacifier Might Help Reduce The Risk Of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
Experts suggest that offering pacifiers to infants at the onset of sleep to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The guidelines recommend not introducing pacifiers to breastfeeding infants until one month of age because later onset of pacifier use appears to have fewer negative effects on breastfeeding.
Pacifiers should not be forced on the infant or reinserted during sleep if the infant spits it out. The exact mechanism of benefit for reducing rates of SIDS is not fully understood, but pacifier use may decrease the likelihood of rolling into the prone position, increase arousal, maintain airway patency, decrease gastroesophageal reflux and resultant sleep apnea, or increase respiratory drive with carbon dioxide retention.
A meta-analysis of seven case-control studies demonstrated a strong association between pacifier use and a reduction in the risk of SIDS, estimating a number needed to treat of 2,733.