The need to suck
All newborns have the reflex to suck. Sucking the breast is natural and ideal for your baby. It is more satisfying than any replacement.
Not all newborns need a pacifier (soother). Many are content with the breast.
If your baby sucks her thumb or fingers, encourage her to change this habit as soon as possible: try a pacifier because it’s easier to control. Your baby may occasionally need her pacifier for comfort but she should not have it in her mouth all the time. Gently remove the pacifier when it’s no longer needed, to avoid creating a habit.
A pacifier can act as a gag. Don’t be too quick to use it to calm your baby. She is trying to tell you something through her cries. Be attentive to find out what she really needs.
Sucking her thumb, fingers or pacifier can sometimes change the position of her teeth. Around the age of 2 or 3, help her gradually give up this habit. It’s important she stop before her first adult teeth come in. The dentist or dental hygienist can give you advice. Sucking a pacifier can sometimes affect your child’s pronunciation. A child who talks with a pacifier in her mouth is hard to understand and she will not learn to express herself properly.
Never use a string to attach the pacifier to the crib or around your baby’s neck or wrist. The string could strangle your baby. Don’t use a safety pin to attach the pacifier to your baby’s clothing as she could injure herself.
To attach a pacifier to clothing, use the clips designed for this purpose.
Choosing a pacifier
If your baby needs a pacifier, choose one for her age. There are several silicone and latex models.
If your baby uses her pacifier for chewing, give her a teething ring instead. The pacifier disk must remain outside her mouth. If the baby chews it, it could break and she could swallow the pieces and choke.
Cleaning the pacifier
Before using a new pacifier, disinfect it according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. Each time your baby asks for it, wash it in hot, soapy water and rinse it. Do not put it in your mouth; you may give her cavity causing bacteria. Pull on the disk to make sure it is properly attached to the nipple. This safety precaution is important, especially when your baby has teeth.
Check the condition of the nipple regularly. It must be very flexible. If it has changed colour or shape, is sticky or cracked, throw it out immediately.
Health Canada suggests you replace pacifiers after two months of use, no matter their condition.