A soother (dummy/pacifier) is initially a choice made by parents. Some parents make the decision before baby is born, others may pack it in the hospital bag and wait until baby is here and play it by ear, others may hold off using it for the first few weeks.
Funnily enough, some babies make that decision themselves by spitting out the soother each time it is given!!
Our Baby Expert Claire Thompson is breaking down the most commonly asked questions about the impact of soothers:
Soothers and Breastfeeding
The HSE refer to the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation that if you decide to breastfeed, it is important to establish your feeding pattern and supply- leaving a period of 2-3 weeks before introducing a soother.
Previously, there were concerns about nipple confusion but research has suggested that it may affect breastfeeding by prolonging intervals between feeds, therefore reducing the number of feeds that babies need which in turn can affect Mum’s milk supply.
Soothers and SIDS
Studies have shown that offering a soother for naps and bedtime help reduce the possibility of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Soothers encourage babies to exercise their sucking reflex, in turn reminding them to breathe. However, if the soother falls out, you do not need to plug it back in! SIDS risk greatly reduces after 4-6 months of age, which is the perfect time to begin weaning off the soother if it is beginning to become a negative sleep association, ie: waking through the night, only looking to be given the soother.
Soothers and Teeth
A worry that most parents have in relation to a soother is how it may affect baby’s teeth. Most soother brands have developed a “orthodontic approved” product, but unfortunately it can still impact the growth of the mouth and the alignment of the front teeth.
Depending on how long baby uses it, it can lead to excess dribbling as babies tend to breathe out of their mouth, it can also delay in speech/word sounds as it prevents exercising the tongue and mouth muscles the more it is used.
Soothers and Reflux /Colic
If you have a baby that has suspected/been diagnosed with any type of reflux, a soother will definitely be part of your baby’s life already! The sucking helps ease the discomfort and pain. It also becomes a great distraction in between feeds.
However, there is a debate as to whether it has the same benefit to colicky baby. Soothers may help as sucking release endorphins and have a calming effect, but some studies suggest sucking on a soother may cause excess intake of air could trigger more gas.
Soothers and Flying✈️
Soothers are perfect to help relieve the air pressure in baby’s ears when going away on that first family holiday. As they suck (on a soother or when feeding) it helps the pop as well as endorphins help calm them down in a brand new unfamiliar environment and even help encourage sleep with added natural white noise from the plane!
Soothers and Moderation
Soothers are perfectly fine to use- just in moderation! By limiting use to naps and bedtime as much as possible, babies (and parents!) become less dependent on their use. When babies get distraught, try to use other methods to soothe before reaching for the soother. It also makes it so much easier to wean babies off them!
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