Pacifiers and newborns is a controversial topic, but only the parents of a newborn ultimately have a say in whether or not pacifiers are appropriate. There are many ways that pacifiers can help a newborn, but there are also ways that they can be detrimental. Here are the major pros and cons of pacifiers and newborns.
Newborn Pacifier Cons
When you give a pacifier to a newborn, it can result in nipple confusion in some babies. Because the shape of the pacifier and a breast or a bottle nipple are different, it can cause some interference in feeding. Some mothers find that it makes breastfeeding more difficult for this reason.
Though pacifiers can be helpful for keeping a baby calm when it's time to sleep, some babies do get dependent on sucking on one as they fall asleep. This can interrupt sleep when the baby's pacifier falls out during sleep. Some newborns have worse nights with pacifiers than without because they wake up and cry until the pacifier is replaced instead of simply falling back to sleep. This can in turn interrupt the sleep of everyone else in the house. This dependence can also make it difficult for the baby to give up the pacifier later.
Dental problems are a possible side effect of using a pacifier for too long. While a newborn won't create dental problems by using a pacifier, the use of a pacifier can become such a crutch for the baby that it is difficult to self-calm without it. That can create an emotional need for the pacifier that continues well into the time when dental problems can be created. The continued use of a pacifier can cause a cross bite that requires a dental appliance during the elementary school years.
Newborn Pacifier Pros
Babies love to suck on things to calm themselves. The sucking reflex can come in handy when a baby is having trouble sleeping and needs something to create a calmer feeling. A pacifier can help a baby to calm himself and to go to sleep when it is needed. This can keep the baby on a better sleep/wake cycle, with more waking hours during the day and more sleeping hours at night.
A pacifier can help to keep the baby happy for a few minutes as you ready the baby's meal. For a nursing mother, that means finding a place to feed and arranging a cover. For others, it may mean heating up a bottle and testing the temperature. With a pacifier in the baby's mouth, there will be less of a panic when hunger strikes.
There has been a connection established between SIDS (crib death) and the use of a pacifier. The risk of SIDS among infants who use a pacifier while sleeping is less than in babies who don't.
Babies who use a pacifier have an advantage over those who develop a thumb-sucking habit. When it is time to stop using a pacifier, the parents can simply take away the pacifier, but halting thumb sucking is far more complicated.