How do you weather a fussy baby especially during bedtime? For parents who would do everything to comfort a baby, baby caring techniques like swaddling, massage, and dummies are useful go-to helpers. Dummies like pacifiers are popular purchases that are meant to soothe babies after they are full from feeding. But aside from calming a baby, does a pacifier help with gas?
Pacifiers are important to parents in offering a distraction and responding to babies’ sucking reflexes. According to the Mayo Clinic, it helps greatly in reducing the risk of SIDS during bedtime. Pacifiers do not cause gas in babies – repetitive sucking, crying and inappropriate nursing do. In fact, pacifiers even prevent gassiness that makes babies fussy.
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How Does a Pacifier Help with Gas?
Babies are born with natural reflexes which are their response to the environment. This includes a sucking reflex where they have a strong urge to suck on anything, their thumb for instance, to satisfy themselves. Fullness from feeding does not guarantee contentment. That’s why most parents rely on using a pacifier to give them this kind of contentment and make their baby a bit happier. It is called non-nutritive sucking.
If your baby is content, it lessens the possibility of crying and swallowing air. Logically, it reduces the episode of gas, which is sometimes painful and makes babies fussy. It even serves as a distraction during immunizations. Pediatricians do not necessarily discourage using a pacifier. The American Academy of Family Physicians explores the benefits of pacifiers as an analgesic and reduces the incidence of SIDS when used appropriately.
The main benefits of a pacifier are:
- Soothing fuss and colic
- Supplementing the sucking reflex
- Helping baby fall asleep
- Reducing the risk of SIDS
- Easing ear discomfort during flights
General Guidelines in Using Pacifier
So, your baby starts manifesting hunger cues and you begin to nurse. After a while, he changed the way he sucks which means he is full. But is he still latching and won’t let go? When he seems to be enjoying the benefit of sucking, then he is clearly using you as a pacifier. It’s time to switch him to a pacifier to support his passive sucking.
While it is okay to let the baby use you as a pacifier, the downside is they may not sleep as soundly as they could. And, it may cause breast soreness for breastfeeding mothers. With a pacifier on, you can put down your baby so you can relax a bit while he sleeps.
Offer Pacifiers to Babies Three to Four Weeks Old
Every mother’s goal for a newborn should be to create an effective nursing routine. Infants are yet to establish their routine that’s why you need to suspend giving pacifiers. You can wait until your baby is about three weeks old and settled with his feeding habit.
Some babies are straightforward in expressing their hunger. But others are passive and may continue sucking on a pacifier if you let them. Babies need to fully differentiate between sucking on breast or bottle and pacifiers as not to confuse themselves in feeding or sucking. This is called nipple confusion. Delaying the use of pacifiers will help you reduce breastfeeding difficulties.
Babies cry for different reasons since they communicate every discomfort, pain, or complaint through tears. Learning baby cues will let you know if you should feed him every time he wakes at night. If he wakes up but is not hungry, you may need a pacifier to lull him back to sleep.
Reduce Pacifier Use after Six Months of Age
While pacifiers are beneficial in helping fussy and colicky babies, there are also downsides to long term use. As they get older, the risks for SIDS reduce, but inversely for ear infection risks. This happens because reflux from sucking may leak secretions into the middle ear infection or otitis media. That’s why the AAFP strongly suggests limiting or ultimately weaning an infant from pacifiers after his sixth month.
In some cases, toddlers who are two years and older may face the risk of dental misalignment. So it is recommended that you should wean them earlier. Pacifiers are meant to supplement nonnutritive sucking in infants and not objects of security for older babies.
The common side effect of pacifier includes:
- Breastfeeding interference
- Nipple confusion
- Middle ear infection
- Dental misalignment
Do not Force Pacifiers in Babies
Experts are unsure of the kind of protective mechanism that a pacifier offers. However, pediatricians acknowledge its importance in preventing SIDS. Sucking stimulates the brain and the pacifier helps keep the baby’s airways open. If he happens to roll over his stomach, it offers a clearance from the mattress to prevent suffocation. That’s why it is advisable for use if you are placing an infant to sleep.
But if a pacifier falls out of your kid’s mouth while sleeping is there a need to put it back in?
No, it does not necessarily need to be reinserted. If the baby is fast asleep, let him. If he wakes up and starts crying, then you may put it back in. Let your baby set the pace in using his pacifier. If he doesn’t need it, then you should not force him to use it.
Use the Right and Safe Pacifier
Cleaning and sterilizing baby stuff before using it is basic knowledge. Aside from hygienic practice, make sure that you are also using safe pacifier materials. Choose pacifiers not only because they look cute on your child. But choose the best one that’s food grade and does not pose as a choking hazard.
How do you look for the right pacifier? Here are some important considerations:
- Choose medical or food-grade material like silicone or natural rubber over plastic.
- Use a solid one-piece pacifier that will not possibly fall apart.
- Purchase only age-appropriate pacifiers with the right size for your baby. Don’t linger on the fact that he will outgrow it no sooner.
- The pacifier shield or guard should have small ventilation holes. Its purpose is not solely for obstruction prevention because it is highly unlikely for a baby to suck his pacifier in. The purpose of the holes is to prevent saliva from pooling inside the guard to prevent irritations.
Use a Pacifier Properly
Cleaning and sterilizing a pacifier before using is a must. You also need to practice proper usage to make sure you are child-proofing your child well. Some parents are wary and weary of losing pacifiers only to find it on the floor. So others would choose to hang it around babies’ necks. While it seems like a bright idea for parents, it poses a serious risk for strangulation in infants.
Pacifier clips are the best alternative to cords provided the ribbon cannot go around the baby’s neck. A strap seven to eight inches long will be good enough. And like your pacifier, the clips should not also contain choking hazards and removable parts. So stay away from beads and those cute dangling plush toys in the end. Also, don’t use these pacifier clips on sleeping babies.
Will a Pacifier Help A Colicky Baby?
Plaintive and inconsolable cries, especially in the middle of the night, can send even experienced parents into a panic. Colicky babies tend to do this for no apparent reason at all. Some link colic to their behavior, over-stimulated senses, food allergies, acid reflux, or tummy problems. Stomach problems are widespread in babies owing to their immature digestive system.
If the baby has gas problems, he tends to kick his legs harder to let you know he has pressure on his lower torso. Unlike when he is just hungry, he will manifest it only through scratching his face or hair. You can also tell he is gassy if he has a stiff abdomen.
There are various ways to soothe gas problems in babies. One is to have a tummy time to release gas and relieve flatulence. Burping a baby after feeding is also important. It will release the gas that he sucked in that could otherwise pool in his digestive tract. So do not mistake burping as a sign of fullness. If you don’t burp a baby, he will end up being gassy.
Pacifier is beneficial in helping babies with colic. Not only does it stop them from crying, but a baby’s sucking action also releases endorphins that will help calm him down.
Pacifier is an inexpensive yet important tool that you need for babies three weeks to six months of age. It helps soothe babies to sleep and respond to their sucking reflex needs. It is also useful in calming infants with colic. By pacifying them, it reduces bouts of crying that also prevents gas buildup. Pacifier is also a useful tool in reducing the risk of SIDS.
Burping a baby after feeding, pacifier use, and before sleeping reduces the tendency of colic. It will remove trapped gases from his tummy to keep babies happy. This little comfort can make a big difference in babies. It will help him sleep soundly through the night, and make his waking moments brighter. Raising a healthy and happy baby should start right from the moment he is born!
Ann Marie is a licensed nurse in the Philippines. She had experiences in handling and assisting deliveries of newborns into the world. She also used to train in labor rooms and pediatric wards – helping soon-to-be mothers and little kids in the process. Though not a mother by nature but a mother by heart, Ann Marie loves to take care of her younger cousins as well as nephews and nieces during her free time.