Pacifiers are known in different names in different countries. They are called Soother in Canada and Dummy in United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. However all these are one and the same thing.  A pacifier is an artificial nipple designed for babies to suck on for comfort. Babies are known for sucking anything they get in their hands. Some suck their thumbs or fingers. Baby as Foetus start sucking their thumb before they are born, so they have an intense need for sucking. Need for sucking varies from baby to baby. Some have stronger need than others. An infant starts sucking when they are bored, tired. Sucking provides comfort to an Infant and due to this many parents put them as must haves along with diapers etc. Whether babies should be given pacifiers or soothers or dummy is often debated, the American Academy of Pediatrics gives pacifiers the green light throughout baby's first year. Pacifiers are treated as a transitional object that helps the children   to adjust a new situation. However breast feeding is most effective way to calm infants after that the thumb or the finger can also be placed in the mouth of the infant to be used as the pacifier.

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Types of Pacifiers

Pacifier is made up of a latex or silicone nipple. Latex Pacifiers (or soothers or dummy) are softer and more flexible but they wear out faster. Silicone pacifiers are firmer. They hold shape for longer period and are easy to clean.


Good pacifier should have shield and handle as one piece and nipple should be knotted around back of the handle, it will prevent nipple from falling off. The shield should have air holes to prevent saliva from collecting behind it, which will cause irritation. Pacifiers should be easy to clean & easy to hold.


Pacifiers come in several sizes and designs. Pacifier nipples are available in various shapes like with long, short or flattened end.  Baby may prefer a certain type.


Effect of Pacifiers on Baby Teeth  

Persistent and long term sucking especially after permanent teeth began to come, around six can cause the following 

  1. Roof of mouth too narrowed 
  2. Mal alignment of upper and lower jaw.
  3. Upper front teeth to slant out.
  4. Lower teeth tilt in.

Advantages of Pacifiers

  1. Pacifier help to calm your baby
  2. Pacifier offer temporary distraction. If your baby is hungry, a pacifier may comfort the baby for few minutes. Pacifier also helps to distract the baby during blood test and other procedures.
  3. Pacifier helps to soothe a fussy baby
  4. Pacifiers can be disposed easily
  5. When the time comes to stop using pacifiers, you can throw it.

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Disadvantages of Pacifiers

1.   Pacifier interfere with breast feeding

2.   Baby may become dependent on pacifier. If the baby uses a pacifier for sleep, parents may face midnight cries spells as the pacifier fall out of baby's mouth.

3.   Pacifier use may lead to dental problems. Use of pacifier during first few years of life does not cause any long term problem. But if continue after the eruption of permanent teeth, it will cause upper lower jaws to malalign.

4.   Pacifier signal to a baby that crying is unacceptable even though crying is one of baby’s way of communication

5.   If lost during sleep, its absence can wake up the child and can make him cry.  

6.   It may contribute to poor oral hygiene

7.   Pacifiers may prevent babies to learn about toys and other objects.

8.   Pacifier may misunderstand the parent that for what their baby is crying.

9.   Pacifier may prevent children to learn how to comfort them.

10.  Some people do not like the sight of babies with the pacifiers in their mouth.


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Risks of Using Pacifiers


Breast Feeding: Pacifiers should be introduced after the baby is one month hold, it will help to established efficient nursing routine. Early use of pacifier prevents the child to learn how to suck the breast causing the discomfort to the mother and poor feeding for the mother.


Dental Development: During early 2 years of life, the use of pacifier never interfere with abnormal dental development , but if continued after the age of three, pacifier can contribute to protruding of front teeth. Orthodontic pacifier does not prevent dental abnormalities.


Ear Infections: Pacifiers use increase risk to child's ear infection.


Other Risks 

1.   Pacifier may interfere with speech development in babies older than 12 months. A child using the pacifier may become unwilling to learn to talk as he is comfortable with the pacifier in mouth. Pacifier can also distort the speech especially with the letter like‘t’ and ‘d’ in which tongue has to touch the front teeth while pronouncing.

2.   Pacifier use may lead to transmission of thrush, a yeast infection.

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