Babies develop their sucking reflex when they are still in the womb, starting somewhere around 32 weeks of pregnancy. They use the reflex for feeding and calming themselves. This power to calm a baby makes pacifiers one of the most popular items for babies. Read this brief guide about the dos and don’ts of pacifiers.
Do: Find the Right Type for Your Baby
Pacifiers come in different sizes and shapes that may or may not appeal to your baby. When choosing your baby’s pacifier, think about its size and construction. The pacifier shield should have at least a 1.5-inch diameter to prevent choking. When it comes to the construction of the pacifier, opt for a one-piece pacifier that doesn’t have components that might fall off and become a choking hazard.
Don’t: Force Your Baby to Take the Pacifier
While a pacifier can become a convenient tool for calming your baby, never force your baby to take the pacifier. Some babies do not like pacifiers, and even babies who like them don’t always want them. Perhaps your baby needs milk or formula, would like to be rocked, wants a swaddle, or just needs a good cuddle. Some babies prefer to mouth soft toys, too.
Do: Replace It When Needed
If you see signs of wear on the pacifier, it’s time to replace it. If you notice changes in the size or shape of the pacifier, cracks, or the nipple becoming brittle, it’s time to replace the pacifier. Cracks can contain harmful bacteria, and if pieces of the pacifier break off, they create a choking hazard for the baby.
Replace the pacifier if your baby has outgrown it. Know the age range of your baby’s pacifier and replace old, small pacifiers with larger ones as your baby grows.
Don’t: Use a Pacifier to Replace or Delay Meals
You want to establish a healthy feeding routine with your little one, and using a pacifier to replace or delay meals works against that. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that breastfeeding babies don’t use a pacifier until the fourth week of life or later.
Do: Use a Pacifier Holder Safely
The final point in this brief dos and don’ts guide is to use a pacifier holder safely if you want to avoid losing the pacifier. One type of holder is a pacifier clip which attaches the pacifier to the baby’s clothes. While this keeps the pacifier close to the baby, you should remove the clip when your baby is not directly supervised or while your baby naps because of the danger of suffocation or strangulation.
Some pacifier holders look like cuddly stuffed animals. These holders are soft enough to double as comfort objects, and they tie to your baby’s stroller or car seat for convenience.
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