Soothers – Are they Good or Bad?

Most parents suffer from the dilemma of whether or not to give their baby a soother, at a young age. The key concern amongst them is whether or not it is good for the health and upbringing of the child. The need for soothers to be given to babies is as a result of their strong reflex to suck. Some children can suck their fingers or thumbs in addition to sucking the nipples of their mother for milk. From an infant’s point of view, sucking often has a calming and soothing effect.

It is as a result of this that for most parents, the role of a Soother is as important as that of baby swings or diapers in a child’s life. Yet, the question of whether a pacifier is good for your baby or not depends on the advantages and disadvantages that they have.

Giving Your Child Soothers

When you are a new parent, the single most important thing is to try and keep the baby comfortable. Crying and irate babies can be a nightmare for new parents and they are willing to go to any lengths to try and comfort them. Some babies can be soothed using a cuddle, others by rocking them, some by feeding and a large majority by simply having something to suckle.

Hence, most parents are perplexed when they see their children wanting to suckle even once they have been fed. In times like these, the use of soothers is often made. Despite not being an alternative to feeding or nurturing, the fact that your baby wants something to suckle can in most cases make a soother, part of the means of satisfying them.

Advantages of Using Soothers

There are both sides of the argument. While some medical professionals caution parents against the use of soothers, others can often encourage them. Here are some of the advantages of using soothers to calm your baby down.

· They can act as a temporary distraction

There are hundreds of situations when your baby may need a distraction to get their minds off something that is about to happen to them. This may include, when needing help to stretch a feed, nappy changing, sleep time, or over tired baby and during and after injections, etc. As the baby is suckling a soother, they will concentrate on that, leaving space open for you to perform any necessary actions that may otherwise get a strong resilience from the baby.

· A relief from Fussy Babies

Each baby is different to another. They can act in different ways, they have different characteristics and each of them will have different things they like and some things they don’t. Some babies, for example, will only calm down when they are sucking something. For a mother to give her child her nipple to suck on all day though, is not practically possible. So how do you go about it? You can use soothers to give the baby something to suck on, at all times.

· They can help reduce the risk of a sudden infant death syndrome

According to medical experts and some studies, it has been observed that babies who are regular users of soothers have a lower death rate from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome as compared to babies who are not. Despite the fact that there is a lack of any plausible scientific evidence to connect the two together medically, it is clear that this is a fact. However, it is hoped that parents take a reasonable period of 3 to 4 weeks after the child’s birth before offering them a soother.

· It is something that can be disposed off

The most important thing about using soothers is that they are not permanent. Soothers are not a part of your child’s body; you can, at any given time, pull the soother out of your child’s life. On the other hand, if your child gets accustomed to sucking on their fingers or thumbs, it might not be as easy to get rid of this habit.

Disadvantages of Using Soothers

Soothers have naysayers as well as supporters. This means that in addition to the number of advantages that they enjoy, there are a number of disadvantages of using them regularly to comfort the baby. These are outlined below:

· Dental problems may arise

When you give the child a soother to suck, you are actually breeding a habit. Whether the habit is temporary, permanent, for a short while, or hard to forget, is only decided with time. Use of soothers in the first few years is unlikely to cause any kind of dental health problems. However, prolonged use well into the child’s 3rd or 4th year of birth could cause dental problems such as misalignment of the teeth.

· It can hamper breast feeding

During the first few years, the natural intake of food and nutrient for the infant is the milk that is breast fed to the child by their mother. Despite a pacifier being shaped similar to a breast, they are different in terms of the sucking experience they provide. Children are aware of these differences. Infants who are forced to make use of soothers are seen to decrease the amount of time they spend feeding themselves.

· Dependency on the Soother

Your children might become dependent on making use of the soother. This could result in an embarrassing situation if the child is unable to get rid of the urge to use it. Typically, most children are unable to sleep without having a soother in their mouth even as even after they become older, which can be a hindrance at times.

Despite the fact that soothers are an important part of a baby’s life. There needs to be caution exercised by parents when making use of this baby friendly tool. While use of soothers may not be harmful to the babies entirely, inability to ensure that this use stays within the set limits can come back to haunt u in your child’s later years.

© Teresa Boardman, Nanny Options.

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