Pacifier: Benefits and Risks

December 10, 2021

Pacifier: Benefits and Risks

When you have a new baby, there are all kinds of decisions to make; some are expected and made ahead of time, but many of them will be made as you go along.

One of the questions that most families face is whether or not you should give your little one a pacifier or if adding the soother might be a conflict to your baby’s feedings?


There are many opinions and conflicting information about pacifier use. For the most part there is not sufficient evidence to suggest that pacifier use is bad for breastfeeding or formula fed babies. In fact, most evidence points to the fact that using a pacifier may even be beneficial.

Much like feeding choice, opposition to pacifiers stems from perceived issues that are exaggerated and are used to make parents and caregivers feel judged.

Ultimately, the decision to offer your baby a pacifier is a personal decision. To help you weigh this decision more carefully we have some pros and cons for you to consider.

The Pacifier

When babies are born, they have a strong desire to suck. This natural sucking reflex happens in two stages.

First, when the roof of your baby's mouth is stimulated and then when you place the mother's breast or a bottle in their mouth, the baby will place the lips over the nipple and squeeze it between the tongue and roof of the mouth.

This sucking reflex allows your baby to get all their nutrients in the first few months of life and is also extremely useful for soothing your baby.

The next stage happens when the baby moves their tongue to the nipple to suck, essentially formula from the bottle.

This sucking reflex allows your baby to get all their nutrients in the first few months of life, and is also extremely useful for soothing your baby.

Baby Pacifier

When a little one sucks on a bottle, breast, or pacifier, hormones are released that relaxes your baby and puts them to sleep.

When babies suck just for comfort, this is called non-nutritive sucking. This specific use of pacifiers can be incredibly helpful for both parents and infants to get through periods of crying, especially during the early months.

Pacifier: Pros

Without a doubt, there are many obvious benefits to giving a baby a pacifier.

The most important reason we have found is that pacifiers can be protective against sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), according to the most recent research by the Academy of American Pediatrics (AAP).


When your baby is fussy, pacifiers soothe and may even help with colic. They can help for times when you are unable to hold or breastfeed your baby, such as when they are getting a medical exam or receiving immunizations.

Many babies have a need to suck even when they are not hungry; a pacifier can satisfy this desire for non-nutritive sucking.


Sucking releases hormones that make your baby relaxed and drowsy. Letting your baby suck on a pacifier may help them fall asleep and may help them stay asleep during the night.

For bottle fed babies this can be helpful when your little empties a bottle but still has the need to be soothed to sleep.

Premature Babies

For premature babies in the intensive care unit, pacifiers can shorten hospital stays and help tube-fed babies learn to use a bottle.

Vacationing with Baby

The air pressure during flight causes your baby to have congestion and painful pressure in the ear canals. Sucking on a pacifier helps your baby relieve this pressure and again releases the soothing hormones that will help your little one feel relaxed.

Pacifier Teeth

Pacifier’s use can cause less dental damage than finger or thumb sucking and can be thrown away or modified when weaning. The same cannot be said about their fingers or thumbs and is harder to wean and can have longer effects on teeth and pallets.

Pacifier: Con

Pacifiers have drawbacks that must be considered.

The biggest problem with pacifiers we have heard from parents and pediatricians concerns full time breastfeeding.

It is advised that you delay introducing a pacifier until breastfeeding is well set. Family doctors recommend waiting to introduce the pacifier when the following conditions are met.

Your baby has returned to his or her birth weight

You are comfortable getting your baby latched onto the breast

You are not concerned about your supply - around 3 weeks

 If you are supplementing with formula or full time bottle feeding you can introduce a pacifier from birth.

Ear infection

Some backdated research found that if your child is prone to recurring ear infections, their pacifier use may be to blame, but more recent research does not show an association between pacifiers and increased occurrence of ear infections.

These studies do encourage less use to help alleviate possible hibital infection.

Bad Habit

Your little one may become quite attached to their pacifier and while it may seem like just taking the pacifier away is a quick way to break the habit, it is not always that easy.

Baby Teeth

Pacifiers may cause dental issues down the road if used beyond age 3. Pacifiers can change the shape of your child’s gum line and dental arch.

The good news is that pacifiers do cause fewer dental problems than thumb-sucking. The pros usually outweigh the need to deny a pacifier to a little baby because of problems that will not crop up for three years.

Pacifier: Safety

After weighing all the pros and cons, if your family chooses to use a pacifier there are a few precautions you should take to ensure that your baby will remain safe.


Parents and caregivers have many decisions to make starting from the first day. My Organic Company is here to help make some of these choices easier.

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