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Using a Pacifier as a Sleep Aid for Your Child

A baby's very survival depends on feeding, so the urge to suck is a powerful one. Many babies become frantic if they go for very long without something to suck on. Enter the pacifier — with lots of big advantages.

A pacifier

  • Is a great comfort when your baby is discovering how to get himself to sleep.
  • Is safe (In fact, sucking on a pacifier may lower your baby's risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS).
  • Is easy to wash.

However, pacifiers do have a few drawbacks:

  • A few newborns resist nursing if they use a pacifier. Typically, this happens within the first three weeks, when a baby begins to nurse. When your baby has nursing all figured out, pacifiers are much less likely to cause any feeding problems.
  • Pacifiers get lost in the middle of the night. Most parents, however, think the occasional squawk from a baby who's lost his pacifier is a fair trade-off for the hours of peace that a pacifier brings.
  • Pacifiers can cause a baby's teeth to shift forward. Luckily, pacifiers affect only the teeth that are already in, not the adult teeth. So, if you can get rid of that pacifier before your little one turns 5 years old, his next set of teeth will come in just fine.

Another complaint is that pacifiers are hard to quit. In most cases, this isn't true. If you decide to get rid of the pacifier in the first year or two, eliminating it can be surprisingly easy. If your toddler is older and has some grasp of language, discuss the change ahead of time. (One ploy: If another little one is joining your family, see whether your toddler is willing to give the pacifier to your new arrival as a gift.)

Overall, pacifiers are more of a blessing than a curse, and they save you and your baby lots of grief — especially on those nights when your sweetie finds sleep to be a challenge.

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