Infancy is a crucial stage in a child’s life, with many aspects imprinting their minds and bodies. Similar to adults, there are certain habits necessitated by physical requirements that babies get used to. A sucking reflex is one of them. It is believed that babies start sucking on their thumbs and fingers when they are inside their mother’s womb! That’s how prevalent this particular reflex is.
Thumb sucking is generally considered a harmless activity by experts. However, prolonged dependency on the activity or the overuse of an external device to aid the sucking process has long-lasting effects on your child’s oral development.
What are pacifiers?
Pacifiers for children serve two primary functions. It aids parents in their management of the child’s moods, particularly during the crying phase when they aren’t hungry or too full. Additionally, it can take care of their child’s thumb-sucking tendencies since putting their thumbs or fingers in their mouth can expose them to harmful bacteria and viruses. There are different kinds of pacifiers available that you can choose for your child. Some of them are:
- Open shield pacifiers
- Closed shield pacifiers
- Soothe pacifiers
- Collapsible pacifiers
- One-piece pacifiers
- Teething pacifiers
- Bibs latex Boheme pacifier
- Orthodontic pacifier
Benefits of a pacifier.
1. Pacifying baby
As mentioned earlier, the habit of thumb-sucking in babies is necessitated organically. Hence, babies cannot avoid sucking their fingers and get extremely fussy when stopped from doing the activity. With a pacifier, you can get rid of your baby of that fussiness and irritability, allowing yourself some time and space.
Pacifiers can be considered as crucial as other hygiene products, such as baby wipes and bottle feeders, because they ease how you can care for your infant.
Additionally, pacifiers help babies fall asleep quickly and remain asleep for the required time. They also aid the relaxation process and help your child to get back to sleep if they wake up abruptly.
It is well known that babies have a short attention span and can be easily distracted by objects and activities around them. This can be a great hindrance for you as a parent to manage your child and take care of their requirements such as feeding, bathing, and making them fall asleep.
A pacifier can be a helpful utility object to provide distraction when your baby is undergoing any medical procedure such as shots, blood tests, or observational check-ups. However, it is also important not to make your baby dependent on the pacifier for stability because it may impact some vital emotional functions in the long run.
3. Aids Sleep
Any parent will tell you how important sleep is for a newborn. Adequate sleep determines their overall physical and emotional health and drastically helps their growth. Lack of sleep can concern the baby and the parents because their sleep cycle will be impacted.
Pacifiers have showcased their ability to allow toddlers to fall asleep easily primarily because it negates the distractive tendencies in the child. It will enable them to relax.
How does a Pacifier affect a baby’s oral hygiene?
Inspire of the benefits; there are specific detrimental effects that a pacifier can have on a toddler’s oral hygiene. Some of the most common issues are:
- Chances of middle-ear infection
- Dental problems
- Disruption in breastfeeding
However, they can be tackled if you keep in mind the following
Don’t share pacifiers
When you let your baby use a pacifier, ensure it’s specific to that toddler. Under no circumstances should pacifiers be shared among children. Not only is it incredibly unhygienic, but it will also enhance the risk of bacteria exposure and cavity development inside the mouth of your child.
Additionally, the pacifier requirement of every toddler is seemingly different, and using the same apparatus may cause dental issues. If you don’t want your child to develop oral infections, get them a pacifier specific to them and their requirements.
Don’t add anything to the pacifier
Parents always tend to lace their toddler’s pacifier with something sweet to ensure that it stays longer inside their child’s mouth. It’s highly advised that you avoid doing this.
Since toddlers get their first set of teeth at this age, the sugar content of the sweeteners will have a long-lasting effect on their oral development. At this stage of development, if the teeth are exposed to too much sugar, there’s a high chance of cavity exposure and gum deficiencies persisting for a long time.
Hence, it’s essential that if your child is using a pacifier, you don’t dip it in anything sweet.
Find the correct pacifier
As mentioned earlier, there are various kinds of pacifiers suited for the oral structure of a baby. Unlike before, when there was a lack of options, now parents can choose from multiple products that suit their child’s requirements. If the pacifier is too large for your baby’s mouth, it’ll provide a general discomfort, and if it’s too small, there’s a high chance that your baby might swallow it.
Pacifiers come in various shapes and sizes and fulfill many criteria. If not conventional pacifiers, you can always opt for orthodontic pacifiers. They have a round nipple shape and maintain your baby’s jaw alignment.
Know when to remove the pacifier
Twenty-four months is an appropriate age for a child to discontinue using a pacifier. To prevent long-term dental issues and other problems like otitis media or ear infections, pacifiers should be curtailed when the toddler is between 6 and 12 months old.
Almost every dental expert widely states that by the age of 4 years, children should be entirely off their pacifiers.
Pacifiers have pros and cons, but their relevance in helping parents deal with a newborn is unparalleled. They enable relaxation for toddlers, help them sleep properly, and keep them distracted. However, prolonged use of pacifiers can harm the child’s development.