When Sarah Goh’s 2-month-old son started crying whenever she changed his soiled diapers at night, she’d reach for a pacifier. Goh, 31, says, “It’s a no-brainer because it’ll definitely stop his cries from getting louder.”
Explains Dr Wong Boh Boi, Thomson Medical’s senior ParentCraft educator, “It’s called comfort sucking. That’s why the pacifier can usually be given to your child to help him fall asleep.”
“Pacifiers will stop them from crying which causes more air to enter their system, worsening their colic.”
In fact, infants in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) are readily given pacifiers when they cry as excessive crying can have detrimental effects on the oxygen levels in their body, Dr Wong notes. Pacifiers are also great if your munchkin tends to be colicky in the evenings.
She points out, “Pacifiers will stop them from crying which causes more air to enter their system, worsening their colic.” Pop one in the fridge to cool and you can use it as a teether to relieve your teething child’s sore gums, she adds.
If you’re still breastfeeding, your kewpie’s obsession with his pacifier can also lead to nipple confusion. Dr Wong explains that the way a baby sucks on the pacifier is different from how they get milk from your breast — through a deep latch. So, an ability to nurse successfully can cause them to be fussy.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommend limiting or stopping pacifier use after your baby is 6 months old to reduce the risk of ear infections. Indeed, like fire, pacifiers are good servants but bad masters. Prolonged use can affect the position of your mini-me’s teeth causing misalignment, says Dr Wong.
“Sucking on the pacifier, much like a baby’s thumb, forces the upper gum to move outwards affecting teeth alignment.” Although this problem can be corrected, your child will have to cope with the challenges of wearing braces.
Paediatric dentists recommend limiting pacifier time once a child is 2 and eliminating it by age 4 to avoid dental problems. Try these suggestions to encourage your mini-me to ditch his prop:
1. Time it right If you are moving in to a new house or your child is getting used to being in a playgroup, let him keep his pacifier until he’s more settled. Dr Wong points out that a soothing pacifier can boost their emotional well-being during such big changes.
2. Try a little peer influence This is the top reason why most kids won’t use pacifiers by the time they are in preschool, states Dr Wong. Point out other children as examples to convince your tot that big boys and girls don’t use pacifiers.
3. Make the pacifier unappealing From dipping it in lemon juice or vinegar, your munchkin will be more likely to give up his pacifier if it tastes bad. Another way is to cut the tip off your child’s pacifier, affecting your kewpie’s ability to suck on it properly.
“Besides toys, try gently rocking or singing to your toddler to calm him down.”
4. All caregivers must observe the no-pacifier rule Get your child’s caregivers on board with your plan to wean your child off his pacifier. As long as a parent, loved one or nanny is still offering the pacifier, the odds of your child kicking the habit will be slim.
5. Get creative with storytelling Share stories of a fairy godmother or some mystical creatures coming to take your child’s pacifiers away. To maximise the success of this method, do it together with our next suggestion…
6. Replace his pacifier with another comfort item From a favourite stuffed toy or your child’s preferred blanket, replacing the pacifier with another suitable comfort item may do the trick. Dr Wong advises, “Besides toys, try gently rocking or singing to your toddler to calm him down.”
7. Let nature take its course Based on her experience, Dr Wong reckons your child will not want to use their pacifier by the time they are 1 or 2 years of age and very few are hooked until they are aged 3.
“If your tot isn’t ready to give it up — don’t force it. You taking it away will only make them more eager to rely on it.” By the way, a power struggle will be much harder to break than a bad habit.
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