My baby loves sucking pacifier and fingers, what can I do?
My baby is always crying, can I use a pacifier to comfort him?
Some babies use sucking to comfort and calm down themselves. Sucking on pacifiers can satisfy their sucking needs when they are not hungry, making them calm and satisfied. Before deciding whether to give your baby pacifiers to suck, you need to consider the pros and cons. Studies have shown that using pacifiers can reduce the chance of having Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. However, it may increase the risk of otitis media (i.e. infection of the middle ear), gastroenteritis (i.e. infection of the gut) or fungal infection of the mouth. A baby may also get confused between his mother’s nipple and the pacifier if the pacifier is given before 1 month old. This may affect the proper suckling of breast milk. Therefore, you should wait until your baby learns the correct suckling method well (usually after 1 month old) before you consider using a pacifier.
What are the points to note when using a pacifier?
- Buy durable pacifiers that are difficult to fall apart to avoid the loosen rubber part from choking your baby’s airway.
- Never tie a pacifier to your baby’s neck or hand, it may strangulate the baby and cause suffocation.
- Frequently check the pacifier for damages to prevent the broken rubber from blocking the airway and causing suffocation. If you notice the pacifier become worn out or fade in colour, you need to change to a new one.
- Pacifiers need to be sterilized to prevent infection. When your baby is older than 6 months, clean the used pacifiers using cleansing agent and rinse with water. Prepare multiple pacifiers for use, so you can change to a new one as needed.
- If your baby falls asleep with the pacifier in the mouth and push it out during sleep, do not put it back into his mouth.
- Do not apply anything sweet on the pacifiers.
Do I need to stop my baby from sucking his own fingers?
Both sucking fingers and pacifiers can satisfy your baby’s sucking needs and calm him down, but you need to beware of hygiene and wash his hands frequently. Most of the babies will stop this habit before preschool stage. So, you do need not to put too much pressure on your baby to force him stop sucking fingers or pacifiers. If you notice problems on your baby’s maxilla or teeth alignment, you should consult a doctor.