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Pacifiers ... Love 'em or leave 'em?

It's the ongoing struggle for new parents ... To paci or not to paci? If you don't cave, will your baby just end up sucking her thumb? If you do cave, will you be trying to wrestle the pacifier from your 6-year-old as he enters his first grade class?

You will hear from parents who praise the pacifier as the only way to soothe an unhappy baby or from parents who despise the pacifier and have found other ways to calm the crying.

There are some pros and cons in the pacifier debate.

Pros:


Protection against SIDS. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents consider letting their child fall asleep or nap with a pacifier their first year, as it seems to have a protective effect against sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

Helping babies pacify themselves. Babies need ways to soothe themselves.

Easier weaning. Pacifiers are disposable. When you're ready for a child to stop, it's much easier to wean him from a pacifier than off of his own thumb.

Cons:


Ear infections. According to a study reported in Pediatrics, pacifiers may lead to 40 percent more ear infections (called acute otitis media). Though researchers aren't sure why this happens, they suspect it may be due to a change in pressure between the middle ear and upper throat.

Confusion. If a pacifier is introduced too early, there's the risk that the pacifier may interfere with breastfeeding for a baby who's just learning to nurse.

Dental problems. Prolonged pacifier use may lead to dental problems.

Ultimately, the decision is a personal one. Each mom should do what's best for her and her child. But, it doesn't hurt to hear about how and why moms make the decisions they do. So, did you make a choice about pacifier use for your child recently or many years ago? What's your story? Help other moms out by sharing the decision you made (and why) on our Mother Hood Facebook page.

May 2011