What Is a Pacifier?
If you have a baby that won’t stop crying, using a pacifier is one of the best tricks mothers have discovered so far.
Pacifiers are most of the time, nippled shaped toys (usually made out of silicone or latex) that babies suck on to get some form of calmness when agitated for attention.
These pacifiers are mostly used solely for comforting the baby and not for feeding. They can stay stuck into the baby’s mouth all through while sleeping until the baby needs to feed. So even if you have a baby that continues to suck after he emptied the bottle or seems to like suckling your breast without intending drawing out milk, a pacifier might be what they need and the same is if you noticed them suckling on their fingers or toys.
It is of importance to mention that some babies are allergic to the latex material used in making these pacifiers, so you need to be careful about the type of material you want to use. The most popular material used that has a very low allergy rate is the silicone material.
Disadvantages of Using Pacifiers
One big reason why most parents easily get turned off with using pacifiers for their baby is that babies can get used to having the pacifier in his/her mouth even when the baby gets past her second birthday and this can be very bad for the baby’s dental formation which includes developing a formation referred to as ‘pacifier teeth’ which is ideally caused by using a pacifier for too long.
The best way to avoid your baby having pacifier teeth is to make sure you disengage her from using the pacifier by the time she’s 2 years old. Although it might seem difficult to do at first because your baby is going to react against this sudden change but its something that you need to do for the sake of the baby.
Other disadvantages you might encounter with a pacifier include:
Babies can play with almost anything placed in their hands including pacifiers. They can use these pacifiers as a play toy to rub on dirty surfaces or drop them to a dirty floor and still put it back into their mouth and when this is done outside the home where there is no immediate water to clean it, it can be dangerous to the health of the baby.
At times, even mothers will use their mouth by trying to blow the specks of dirt off the pacifier and this is not hygienic to both the baby and the parent.
Besides, the mother might be suffering from one ailment, and putting the pacifier in her mouth, the baby runs the risk of contracting a bacteria from the mother.
Disengaging Can be hard
Weaning your baby off a pacifier can be something very difficult to achieve and it can take months just to have a headway and this can be tough on babies including mothers who have relied on these pacifiers as a means to help calm and relieve their baby’s from tension
Babies used to using a heavier pacifier are prone to ear infections (some studies have shown that pacifiers can cause ear infection for babies) so if your baby uses a pacifier, you can limit their usage to only when they are about to sleep and they remove it when they are fully asleep.
Why Babies Like Pacifiers and Its Effectiveness
With the potential risk associated with using a pacifier for your baby, there is no doubt that many mothers still prefer its use and that is why the sucking toys are very common in almost every home where there is a newborn. In fact, according to research, it is estimated that 80% of babies in western countries use a pacifier for their babies. So, the question is:
Are pacifiers that effective?
Again there is no doubt that pacifiers are very effective in calming and soothing the baby’s nerves and stop them from unnecessary cries or agitations and the reasons why these toys are very effective is that babies have an inbuilt sucking reflexes that make them suck at almost everything in their hand including their fingers and this sucking reflex is considered as one of the major 5 S womb sensations linked with soothing a baby.
And so, when babies suck it tends to lower their stress level, blood pressure, and heart rate. So because babies are used to sucking their thumbs and fingers during their time in the womb, they tend to continue the habit even after they are born, so sucking is a form of nutrient and also a means to calm their nerves.
Sucking also gives babies a sense of security because as babies grow up, they will associate their pacifier to something that gives them calmness which can be translated to mean security, and they get easily attached to these toys just to feel the soothing relieve it offers them.
The Best 7 Pacifier Alternatives For Babies
So, if your baby is showing signs that he might need a pacifier, you just need to make sure that he doesn’t get used to having it around all the time as it might cause the both of you some pains when trying to break away from using it.
This is why learning to use a pacifier alternative for your infant can be of great help.
For some mothers, the pacifier is a remedy for fussy babies who desperately need to suck on something but not intentionally hungry for food. A pacifier substitute can help your baby to learn how to self-soothe and satisfy their sucking habit.
And though the pacifier might have some advantages, however, it is recommended to use pacifiers with caution and they should never be used as a delayed form of feeding or should it be introduced to the baby until breastfeeding is well established.
With all the disadvantages mentioned like an ear infection and dental deformations including weaning them off the toy when they are so used to it, having a pacifier alternative can be of help. ie knowing how to soothe your baby without having to tie him with a pacifier can be a great idea that is why this guide will show you what to use instead of pacifiers for toddlers so you can get through the challenging phase of throwing away the pacifier habit for good.
The best pacifier alternatives for infants and newborns:
There are lots of ways to help suit your newborn baby without actually resorting to using a pacifier. Although, every baby has its unique way of responding to new tricks or techniques it is vital to know that your baby may prefer one method over the other and the response may take some few days but whichever method your baby decides to roll with, you will discover that this new routine will give you and your baby a new lifestyle.
Breastfeeding is one of the most common alternatives to pacifiers for toddlers that mothers have come to realize. It can be said to be the best technique for soothing you’re newly born, and when a baby uses the breast to comfort him/herself its called comfort nursing. And this has several benefits including bonding between the baby and the mother.
Although some parents think that babies that use the breast to comfort themselves tend to get more attached to the mother but comforting and feeding your newborn is a vital aspect of raising a baby. So, because the baby cannot say what he needs and it can be quite difficult for parents to guess what the baby wants so if the child sucks the breast and it gives him/her the soothing effect, then allowing him/her to nurse on the bread should not be a big deal.
The only drawback to comfort nursing as a pacifier substitute is that the baby will get too attached to you/breast more often and for a longer time and this attachment can mean more challenges on your day to day activities like running errands, or doing some more important chores.
Swaddling is another great option to soothe your infant and there are several swaddling products geared toward toddlers who just made the change from the womb to the wide-open world. For instance, the Halo 100% Cotton Sleepsack Swaddle Wearable Blanket is specially made to offer comfort for your baby and they are super useful for a good number of reasons which include the easy usage while the baby slept because the swaddle cannot come undone in the middle of the night.
Also, you can easily take your baby in and out of the swaddle without much effort even in the dark.
There are different swaddle sizes you can find on the market including one for the newly born so you don’t have to worry about overly large sizes and if the need arises to swaddle your baby longer because she’s growing bigger, the bigger sizes are also readily available.
However, it is important to mention that swaddle should only be used for babies in their first 3-6 months and once the baby can roll over from back to belly or belly to back, then the swaddle is of no more importance. because once your baby can roll over conveniently, there is the possibility that the baby can roll onto her face while sleeping and this can cause the baby to suffocate.
A baby doll
If your baby is getting to 2-3 years old and is still clutched to the pacifier, a good alternative is to get him or her a baby doll. Why is a baby doll important? Your baby will have a sense of a big kid and will easily let go of the pacifier to the doll.
This is one of the easiest ways to wean a baby and introduce her to a new pacifier and it works for boys too. Although, it does
take time before the baby will agree to relinquish the pacifier to the baby doll but it works and it also makes them learn to share what they have even if it’s just a toy and also as mentioned earlier, it positions them as the big brother/sister who gave the pacifier completely just because of them.
A new blanket
Kids that are used to the pacifier find it so hard to go to bed without one. It could come very easy for many babies to stop using the pacifier during the day, but the night is the hardest to stop using the pacifier the most because it’s one of the only things that can make babies sleep easily and quickly so it’s important that when trying to find a pacifier replacement for your baby, you look for one that is not too far from the bed arena and buying the baby a colorful baby blanket should work the trick.
The trick is that when the baby is missing the pacifier, he/she will likely cuddle up in his/her bed with there new found pacifier substitute – the blanket.
This is also almost the same with buying a colorful blanket in that, you’re having them change to sleeping bags which can be a sought of a boost to their morale because it kind of look and feel like a big kid thing and because of how sleeping bags are designed, most kids love them and they can even pretend theirs on a camping trip with their sleeping bag.
If you can paint good excitement imagery in their mind about exchanging their pacifier with a sleeping bag, it might trigger some excitement inside of them to let go of their pacifier and switched to using a sleeping bag and it’s also a better option to have them choose their sleeping bag so that they could have a fun time experience.
Nightlight or projector
If you ask most kids of the age bracket 2 to 4 years of the greatest fear, it won’t surprise you that they all have the same fear…Darkness!
According to most parents, they discovered that kids at this age develop a vivid imagination and can sometimes picture imaginary things lurking around every dark corner in the house only that they have a good understanding that their imagination isn’t true.
So if you’re dealing with a child that has a phobia for darkness and won’t go to sleep easily, consider bringing in a night light or a projector to give the room some level of illumination. This will offer some level of comfort and give the baby a new toy to focus on and won’t miss the pacifier.
A new toy
A new toy can also work some trick on your baby if he or she is adamant about growing up from using the pacifier. You could propose a deal of a new toy if he/she will give up the pacifier. A bribe in the right direction is not a bad idea if you time the reward of the new toy properly. for instance, you might offer your baby a new toy based on his age and developmental progress.
You can make a big deal out of this ‘deal’ between you and your baby by taking him/her to the store and letting him pick the toy he wants as a reward for being a big boy. Older toddlers will understand this deal and will hopefully hold up to the end of their bargain while the younger kids might need some little bit of more persuasions. However, offering your baby a new toy as a reward shouldn’t make you feel too bad if it’s done at the right time and for the right motives.
Here are some reasons why you need a pacifier alternative for babies
Using a pacifier will cause the baby’s teeth to grow abnormally – most parents believe that allowing your baby to use the pacifier for a long time will have a dental implication on the baby’s teeth. The teeth will grow out instead of growing down if too much pacifier is used by the kid. Research has shown that excessive use of the pacifier can increase the chances of your baby developing an overbite.
Also, as your baby gets older it looks inappropriate for the child to still go on using a pacifier, in fact, in almost all the time, the baby looks out of place with the pacifier tightly help by an overgrown baby.
It can also slow down their speech development – and this is not what you want to do at all, at the stage the baby is, there are lots of developmental processes that are going on within and you wouldn’t want to use the pacifier to limit or impair his growth.
Are There Any Pacifier Alternatives That Work?
The truth is, some pacifiers alternatives do work with some parents but not for all which makes it almost impossible to give a 100% guarantee that it works, however, the list above does have some techniques that can do the trick on your baby and so you need to try out one and stay resolute with your choice, make sure you did not give up the first time your baby rejects your proposition.
It will take some time before they get used to new pacifiers so you need all the patients in the world to make this transition a success.
Are any of these pacifier alternatives guaranteed to work?
There are no pacifier alternatives that are 100% guaranteed to work but that is not to say the listed methods above won’t work, however, to get a 100% success with any of these methods, you need to stand your ground and keep the pacifier away at least during the day and gradually phase it out at night within some few days.
Why should you get rid of the pacifier?
The earlier you get rid of your baby’s pacifier the better it is for both of you – the pain of losing a pacifier for the baby and the many sleepless nights the mother has to soothe the baby to sleep. However, I believe it’s something that is needed to be done as earlier as possible and besides, there are lots of benefits why the baby needs to ditch the pacifier earlier than later, for instance, it is believed that using the pacifier for a long period can cause or hinder speech development also it can make your baby over dependant on the pacifier and also can cause some teeth deformation for your baby if he continues to use one for a longer period.
Why do toddlers need a pacifier in the first place?
While finding a means of getting rid of the pacifier, some parents often think of what led them to allow their babies to use the pacifier in the first place. Although, there are lots of reasons why pacifier is not the best soother for your baby it also has its benefit during the first few months for the baby and here are some reasons why its good to use a pacifier during those growing periods:
If you are looking for anything that will make your baby get settled and calmer, its the pacifier that can do the work nicely. It’s so ideal in a lot of situations for instance if your baby is crying during the day, it’s a good option that offers soothing relief and also during the night, it’s just the right toy to help them to sleep.
Also, it’s a good alternative to the nipples as babies most of the time sucks the nipple not because they are hungry and needed the milk, but because they needed some comfort and the pacifier can also replicate the same feeling for the baby but sometimes using the pacifier to calm your baby can resort to it interfering with your baby’s breastfeeding pattern. This is why it is advisable to make sure that you establish a solid breastfeeding routine before introducing your baby to a pacifier.
These tips mentioned above can work as a pacifier substitute for your toddlers and can also make the change you’re looking for in your baby. Trying to switch your baby from using a pacifier to an alternative will require that you muster some patient and be ready to learn new things about your baby.
Of course, there is no harm in rewarding your baby with something that he likes – and rewarding your kids with a gift or something you are sure they will like can be a great tool in the hands of parents to change the cause of how to soothe their baby and help them remain calm even before going to bed at night.
If any of the suggested methods work for you, then great but if you’re having it a bit rough with your baby on ditching the pacifier, do not let that distract you from trying other methods. The good thing is that when babies decides not to change their pattern of being pacified, there is nothing as parent we can do but to encourage them and hope they will change into a more healthier way of being paified.