Pacifiers: Pros and Cons
Pacifiers may reduce the likelihood of SIDS, but before you pop one in your baby’s mouth, consider this: Pacifiers can interfere with breastfeeding and may have long-term health risks.
By Jeannette Crenshaw, RN, DNP, IBCLC, LCCE, FACCE
Pacifiers may seem like a quick solution to quieting a fussy baby, but the risks versus benefits are not as straightforward as they may initially appear.
On the plus side, the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAPs') Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)-reduction guidelines do include the recommendation that babies be given pacifiers during naps and at bedtime (but not to force it if your baby refuses a pacifier). If you’re breastfeeding, the AAP suggests waiting until nursing is well established or until your baby is about a month old. This advice is based on research suggesting that babies who suck on pacifiers don’t sleep as deeply and wake more often than those who don’t – both factors believed to reduce the risk of SIDS.
While pacifiers may have that going for them, they’re also linked to higher rates of ear infections, diarrhea, yeast infections and dental problems. Pacifiers can also interfere with successful breastfeeding, which, like pacifiers, also helps your baby sleep lightly and has been proven to reduce the risk of SIDS. Also, breastfeeding lowers the likelihood that your baby will have the above conditions.