A pacifier is a device used to sooth an infant’s need for sucking. Sucking is a normal infant reflex, but the amount of sucking varies for each infant, and often the need to suck is greater than what they get from feeding. Boredom, comfort and sleepiness are some reasons babies want to suck. A pacifier can help satisfy that need.
The world is a big and mystifying place for a baby, and sucking is a self-comforting behavior that can help babies deal with the confusions of the world around them. Babies tend to have an extra need for the comfort of sucking between 2 weeks and 4 months.
Often, the urge to suck for comfort is mistaken as hunger in babies, and this can lead to overfeeding, especially in bottle fed babies. A pacifier can fill an important need in preventing overfeeding.
Some babies suck their thumbs to satisfy their sucking needs. Thumb sucking can be a hard habit to break. The use of a pacifier as a substitute to the thumb is beneficial because parents can control the use of the pacifier.
Of course there are still those who oppose the use of pacifiers arguing that crooked teeth, tooth decay and delayed speech development are all issues caused by pacifier use. However, studies show that these issues only occur in prolonged use in children over the age of 5, and it is highly recommended that pacifier use be discontinued well before then. Most children will give up their pacifiers around the ages of three or four but many parents opt to discontinue use well before then. Babies usually lose their natural sucking urge when they are around six months old, so this can be a good time to wean them off their pacifier.
Pacifiers come in many shapes and sizes. Signature Little One’s line of Expression Pacifiers is an adorable way to fulfill a babies sucking need.