Among most current mums, pacifiers are some of the key baby purchases. World Health Organization however discourages use of pacifiers and teats among infants, in efforts to support breastfeeding. It is feared that use of pacifiers especially at a younger age can cause nipple confusion and therefore affect breastfeeding. Hence, health care providers discourage use of pacifiers.
Non –nutritive sucking- sucking on hands and digits is a developmental stage in neonates and infants- provides comfort, state regulation and oromotor development. This is how the pacifier found its way in child development as mum’s try to discourage finger sucking. But other than their possible influence on breastfeeding, pacifiers have influence on dentition and can result in infection.
Pacifiers have the potential to cause dental caries, malocclusion and gingival recession when used for long periods (after 5 years) or inappropriately which involves sweetening with either sugar, honey or corn syrup. The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) recommends pacifiers over the thumb only because it is easier to control but advise against sweeting same as the American Dental Association (ADA) who also recommend use of clean unsweetened pacifiers.
Prolonged and frequent use has also been associated with otitis media- inflammation of the middle ear. This is especially true if the baby stops breastfeeding as a result of mechanical differences in sucking at the breast and sucking at the pacifier, common when pacifiers are introduced before breastfeeding has been well established. Given fungus thrive at room temperature on moist surfaces, it possible for pacifiers to cause thrush. In addition, contaminated pacifiers can result in infection. It is therefore important to use sterilized pacifiers.
In conclusion, to use or not use a pacifier is totally a mother’s personal choice as long as it doesn’t interfere with breastfeeding and consequently the baby’s health and development.