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Soothe me

Baby Steps

Wednesday, February 12, 2014    

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Babies naturally have a sucking reflex and will suck their thumbs, tongues or pacifiers. Many parents are concerned about thumb sucking and pacifier sucking because of fears of dental problems later.

But sucking soothes babies and parents need to understand that it has a calming effect. In fact, many babies start sucking on their hands from in the womb.

"It is a natural instinct for babies to want to suck. So mothers feed them all the time and although they are not hungry, they want to suck — so we say they can use a pacifier," said paediatrician Dr Eve Palomino-Lue. "Nothing is wrong with using a pacifier."

Here are some pacifier pros and cons from the Mayo Clinic.

*A pacifier might soothe a fussy baby. Some babies are happiest when they're sucking on something.

*A pacifier offers temporary distraction. A pacifier might come in handy during 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.

*Pacifiers might help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Researchers have found an association between pacifier use during sleep and a reduced risk of SIDS.

*Pacifiers are disposable. When it's time to stop using pacifiers, you can throw them away. If your child prefers to suck on his or her thumb or fingers, it might be more difficult to break the habit.

*Early pacifier use might interfere with breast-feeding. Sucking on a breast is different from sucking on a pacifier or bottle, and some babies are sensitive to those differences. Research suggests that early use of artificial nipples is associated with decreased exclusive breastfeeding and duration of breastfeeding.

*Your baby might become dependent on the pacifier. If your baby uses a pacifier to sleep, you might face frequent middle-of-the-night crying spells when the pacifier falls out of your baby's mouth.

* Prolonged pacifier use might lead to dental problems. Normal pacifier use during the first few years of life doesn't cause long-term dental problems. However, prolonged pacifier use might cause a child's top front teeth to slant outward or not come in properly.

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