What Are Pacifier Side Effects?

One reason that babies use a pacifier is to find comfort. If they sucked their thumb in the womb, a pacifier simulates that same sucking reflex. In that way, it helps them to learn how to use a bottle or the breast. When they are wakeful in the night, a pacifier may be just enough to lull them back to sleep without fully waking.

That leads us to a plus for pacifiers. Doctors have found that babies who use a pacifier at night have a lower incidence of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Maybe it has to do with the tongue staying down and the airway open. It is still a mystery.

Once the period of greatest SIDS risk is past, children who are still using a pacifier are at risk for middle ear infections. For some reason, they seem to develop more of them if they are still using a pacifier.

So while there are good points about a pacifier, parents also consider the downsides. A pacifier can become habit forming, too. Once we learn that it can quieten a cranky baby, we are shoving it in their mouths at every turn. Unfortunately, babies get to like it and then won’t stay calm without it. You’ll find yourself frantically searching for that binky in the car floor as your baby howls with disappointment.

Developing a dependence on the pacifier is just like depending on the thumb. Over time it can lead to dental problems once your child’s permanent teeth begin to come in. A particularly strong sucking reflex can push the front teeth forward. And unless binky is kept clean, germs can collect on it and then in your child’s mouth, leading to more tooth problems.

A pacifier can interfere with feeding time. If you breastfeed, baby may get confused between the pacifier and the nipple because of the shape. You may notice that they have problems latching on, or they don’t want the breast because it doesn’t feel like the pacifier.