Are Dummies / Pacifiers OK For Your Baby or Toddler? Here are the Pros and Cons

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If you’re a new mum  or dad or mum-to-be, the wellbeing of your child is, of course, your main priority and you want your child to have a healthy and happy course of development, both physically, emotionally and socially.

When it comes to dummies, there’s a lot of opinions and theories out there!

So here are the myths as well as the facts: thanks to Mendela   who are committed to continued research and innovation

It’s totally normal to feel confused or conflicted when it comes the  dummies/ pacifier pros and cons – and knowing what’s best for your baby and their unique needs.

It’s often hard to tell on which side of the truth many of these theories and opinions regarding pacifiers lie and whether or not we can classify pacifiers as “good” or “bad”.

Like many other things when it comes to your baby, there’s no “black or white” answer to using dummies. You may have a sibling who swore by using a pacifier with their baby because it was sometimes the only thing that helped calm or soothe their little one. On the other hand, you may have friends who advise against using dummies because it can be a tough habit to break or because they had a bad experience with them. The truth is, every baby – and their needs – are totally unique. That means that what worked for one baby may be completely different than what works or is preferred by another little one.

In fact, the use of a dummy can bring a lot of benefits to your baby when used responsibly and when following certain guidelines and its instructions for use.

Mendela collated some science-based information and myth busters regarding the use of pacifiers, including knowing when and how a dummy can be most helpful to your baby and when to consider not using a dummy to help you make the most informed decision for your little one.

Pacifier Pros and Cons

A dummy can offer comfort when your baby is crying and/or agitated.

Truth. Pacifiers can be very helpful in comforting your little one during times of distress, because the suckling action helps babies soothe themselves.

Pacifiers can be given to breastfed babies.

Truth. Dummies can be given to a healthy breastfed baby from birth. Studies have shown that the use of a pacifier in healthy breastfeeding babies, starting from birth or after lactation is established, didn’t significantly impact the frequency of breastfeeding up to 4 months of age.

However, you may like to consider introducing a pacifier after you and your baby are comfortable with breastfeeding. It’s important to ensure that a dummy doesn’t replace or delay feeding time!

Pacifiers negatively affect teeth.

Myth! When used responsibly and within the recommended time limits, pacifiers shouldn’t  negatively affect developing teeth or cause crooked teeth. Experts recommend limiting pacifier use to a few hours per day.

With that in mind, understanding that each child’s mouth and teeth develop differently is important. Using dummies in children older than 24 months is a decision that should be made by each parent, based on advice and/or recommendations from their doctor or dentist.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends weaning from the pacifier should start by 3 years old at the latest. Mendela recommend choosing a pacifier shape that supports oral development, usually designated by the word “orthodontic” in the product description or on the packaging.

Pacifiers can provide pain relief to your baby.

Truth. Scientific evidence has shown that pacifiers can help babies to better cope with distress and discomfort during minor events, like receiving injections or getting blood drawn at the doctors. The act of sucking on a pacifier can help your little one calm and soothe themselves.

This is especially true during episodes of teething, as your baby might feel very uncomfortable and experiences aches and soreness. A dummy can offer some relief to that discomfort. Just be sure to pay attention to the condition of your baby’s dummy and replace them right away if they begin to look worn out!

Pacifiers cause colic.

Myth. The cause behind colic is still unknown, but there are some theories – such as an immature digestive system, lactose intolerance, allergies, or changes in the normal bacteria of their digestive system. Swallowing extra air during feedings can cause painful gas and aggravate colic.

It’s often difficult to calm babies during a colic episode, as they cry intensely for long periods with clenched fists and curled up legs. Though symptoms typically begin to improve around 10 – 12 weeks postpartum, a dummy may help calm your baby as sucking can be soothing and help regulate your little one’s emotions.

Weaning can be extra-difficult.

Myth and truth here! Some babies have no problem giving up their pacifiers and are ready to do so quickly. Others may need more time to say good-bye. This is because babies become attached to their pacifiers and the comfort it brings. Weaning will be a learning and compromising experience for you and your little one, but with love and patience you will help your baby reach this exciting milestone.

If you feel that using a dummy is a good option for your little one, consider which one might be best for your baby. There are a wide range of pacifiers available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and materials – from extra-small sizes for newborns and one-piece pacifiers made of 100% silicone to pacifiers designed specifically for daytime or nighttime use. Be sure to check out all of the unique pacifier options to find the perfect match for your little one! Medela offer a wide choice to choose from.

Vu-Ngoc H, Uyen NCM, Thinh OP, et al. Analgesic effect of non-nutritive sucking in term neonates: A randomized controlled trial. Pediatr Neonatol 2020; 61: 106-113.

Jaafar SH et al. Effect of restricted pacifier use in breastfeeding term infants for increasing duration of breastfeeding. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016; (8):CD007202.
Alm B et al. Breastfeeding and dummy use have a protective effect on sudden infant death syndrome. Acta Paediatri. 2016; 105(1):31-38.

Moon RY. SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths: Evidence Base for 2016 Updated Recommendations for a Safe Infant Sleeping Environment. Pediatrics. 2016; 138(5):e20162940.

Proffit WR. On the aetiology of malocclusion. The Northcroft lecture, 1985 presented to the British Society for the Study of Orthodontics, Oxford, April 18, 1985. Br J Orthod. 1986; 13(1):1-11.

AAPD. Guideline on periodicity of examination, preventive dental services, anticipatory guidance/counseling, and oral treatment for infants, children, and adolescents. Latest revision 2018. In: American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, editor. The reference manual of pediatric dentistry. 2019-2020. Chicago IL: AAPD; 2020. p. 209–19.

Johnson JD et al. Infantile Colic: Recognition and Treatment. American Family Physician. 2015; 92(7): 577–582.

Lam T.M.L. et al. Approach to infantile colic in primary care. Singapore Med J. Singapore Med J 2019; 60(1): 12-16.

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