Caring For Your Baby’s Bodily Needs – Part Four

This article covers topics such as: Pacifiers: In or Out?, When Pacifiers Are out, in the early weeks of breastfeeding, as habitual substitutes for nurturing, When Pacifiers Are In, Choosing and Using a Safe Pacifier, Pacifiers versus Thumb-sucking — Which Is better, There will be one more part on this article so be sure to keep an eye out for it.

The high-maintenance stage of the first two years is often tedious, sometimes fun, but it’s also a chance to get to know your baby. In this article you will find practical ways to take good care of your baby — and enjoy it.

Pacifiers: In or Out?

Every age has its props, but none is so controversial as this tiny plug. Some babies like them, grandmothers turn their heads, parents are unsure, and psychologists offer no comment. Babies have an intense need to suck, and some have more intense needs than others. Babies even suck their thumbs in the womb. Next to holding and feeding, sucking is the most time-tested comforter. Even preemies grow better when they can suck on pacifiers. These silicone “peacemakers”: have their place, but they can also be abused.

When Pacifiers Are Out

In the early weeks of breastfeeding.When learning how to breastfeed, a baby should have only mother’s nipple in his mouth. One thing a newborn has to “learn” is how to suck on mother’s nipple the right way to get the most milk. A baby sucks on a pacifier differently than on mother’s nipples. Some newborns, but not all, develop nipple confusion when given a pacifier or bottle nipple at the same time as they are learning to suck from mother. Pacifiers have a narrow base, so baby doesn’t have to open his lips wide. This often results in poor latch-on techniques, sore nipples, and a difficult start at breastfeeding. Many sensitive babies gag on every pacifier you might try. The texture, taste, and smell are rejected hands down. Other babies make the transition from rubber to flesh nipples without any confusion or complaint. Advice: Avoid pacifiers until your newborn learns to latch on properly and you have a good milk supply. If your own nipples are wearing out, or at least the mom they are attached to is, use your finger (or, better yet, get day or some else to give you a break. The skin=to-skin element is still there, and your index finger (or dad’s little finger) can be placed more properly farther back in baby’s mouth to stimulate sucking at the breast. Your fingernail should be trimmed short and the nail should be turned down toward the tongue so it won’t poke baby’s palate. Many babies have been soothed by the touch of a well-scrubbed pinkie.

As habitual substitutes for nurturing.Ideally, pacifiers are for the comfort of babies, not the convenience of parents (but there is yet to found the ideal parent or the ideal baby). To insert the plug and leave baby in the plastic infant seat every time he cries is unhealthy reliance on an artificial comforter. This baby needs picking up and holding. Always relying on an alternative peacemaker lessens the buildup of baby’s trust in the parents and denies the parents a chance to develop baby-comforting skills. Pacifiers are meant to satisfy intense sucking needs, not to delay or replace nurturing. A person should always be at the other end of a comforting tool. The breast (or the finger) has the built-in advantage of making sure you don’t fall into the habit of just plugging up the source of the cries as a mechanical gesture. When baby cries, if you find yourself, by reflex, reaching for the pacifier instead of reaching for your baby, pull the plug — and lose it.

When Pacifiers Are In

If used sensibly and used for a baby who has intense sucking needs — in addition to, not as a substitute for, human nurturing — pacifiers are an acceptable aid. If you have one of these babies and experience times when the human pacifier wears out, use the rubber one, but don’t abuse it. There will be times when being a baby is socially unacceptable, for example, during a sermon in church or in a quiet theater. If baby is finished feeding and won’t accept finger sucking, a pacifier may keep the peace. Since pacifiers stimulate the flow of saliva, which is a natural digestive aid and intestinal lubricant, extra sucking on a pacifier may help babies with intestinal upsets, such as gastro esophageal reflux.

Pacifiers bother adults more than they harm babies. When looking at a baby’s face it is much nicer to have an unobstructed view without the pacifier being there. However, if it comforts the baby then it is unfair to be judgmental about the pacifier being there.

Pacifiers Versus Thumb-Sucking — Which Is Better?Pediatrician’s would vote for the thumb. It’s easily found in the middle of the night, it doesn’t fall on the floor, it tastes better, and baby can adjust the position to her own sucking needs. Pacifiers get lost, get dirty, and are always falling on the floor. Those of the pacifier set claim, however, it is easier to “lose” the pacifier than the thumb’ and intense thumb-sucking, if prolonged three to four years, may lead to orthodontic problems. Parents of tiny thumb-suckers, don’t choose your child’s orthodontist yet. Most babies suck their thumbs at some time. Most outgrow it, and if their sucking needs are appropriately met in early infancy, they seldom carry the thumb-sucking habit into childhood.

Choosing and Using a Safe Pacifier

* Select a sturdy one-piece model that will not break into two pieces, allowing baby to choke on the bulb. Also, be sure it is dishwasher safe and easy to clean.

* Be sure the base of the pacifier has ventilation holes. Avoid large circular shields that may obstruct baby’s nasal passages when baby draws in the pacifier during intense sucking.

* One size doesn’t fit all. Choose a smaller, shorter, newborn-sized pacifier for the early months.

* Pacifiers come in a variety of nipple shapes. Some are symmetrically round, like a bottle nipple. Others are pre-shaped, supposedly to duplicate the elongated, flattened breast nipple during sucking. Pre-shaped nipples, however, may not always fit baby’s mouth, especially if the pacifier turns during sucking or is inserted upside down. Some pacifier manufacturers claim orthodontic benefits, but these are questionable. Try various shapes and let baby’s discerning mouth decide.

* Avoid attaching the pacifier to a string or ribbon around baby’s neck or pinning the pacifier string onto baby’s clothing. This is a setup for strangulation. “But it’s always falling on the floor,” you plead. Answer: Keep on hand on baby and the other hand on the pacifier. (Or pin the pacifier ring directly onto baby’s clothing,” Perhaps babies are not meant to be left unattended with anything in their mouths. Good safety and good nurturing go together.

* Do not make your own pacifier out of a cotton-stuffed bottle nipple. Baby may suck the cotton through the hole.

* Resist the temptation to sweeten the offering by dipping the pacifier in honey or syrup. If baby does not yet have teeth, he is too young for honey or syrup. If he has teeth, he is too old for the decay-producing sweets — and probably the pacifier, too. If he has to be enticed to suck by sweetening, he would probably benefit from some other form of comforting — having a change of scene, going out in the fresh air, playing, cuddling with you, rocking to sleep, being worn more, and so on.

Advice about pacifiers: In the early weeks only the real nipple belongs in a baby’s mouth. If you have a baby who really needs a pacifier, then use, don’t abuse it, and quickly try to lose it.

There will be more articles on infants, breast or bottle feeding and other related topics to follow. So please keep an eye out for more of my articles.

Article Tags:
Bottle Nipple, Baby’s Mouth, Intense Sucking, Sucking Needs