can a baby sleep with a pacifier all night

Can A Baby Sleep With A Pacifier All Night?

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    For babies who find great comfort in sucking beyond the need for nourishment, pacifiers can be useful at bedtime. If you're nursing your baby, wait until he's a month old to give him a pacifier to make sure breastfeeding is well established. 

    And don't use the pacifier as a substitute for nurturing. Try cuddling, swaddling, rocking, and singing to your baby to lull him to sleep first. Dim the lights and put on some soft music. And during his waking hours, be sure to provide plenty of nurturing (rather than a pacifier).

    There are pros and cons to pacifier use. Some studies show that a pacifier at sleep times is protective against SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). On the flip side, babies who use a pacifier after six months have an increase in middle ear infections, yeast infections (in the mouth), and intestinal infections.

    Some parents find that while a pacifier comforts their baby and helps him get to sleep, he'll wake up during the night and cry if he's unable to find it. If this happens, you may have to get up regularly at night to retrieve the binky. 

    Another potential pitfall: If your baby has a cold and can't breathe through his nose, he'll be much more miserable if he depends on a pacifier for comfort.

    As long as your child gives up the pacifier by around age 5, there's probably no need to worry about long-term dental problems. 

    Your child only has baby teeth during the early months and years; permanent teeth generally don't appear until around age 6. Mention to your child's dentist that he uses a pacifier, though, and she'll watch for problems at each checkup, just in case.

    As a new parent, you are faced with an avalanche of questions and decisions that you probably have never thought of before. These decisions feel far weightier because they directly affect your newborn baby.

    Adding to the confusion is the myriad of parenting methods, theories, books, and well-meaning Facebook friends who always seem to have all the answers.

    One of the areas of intense confusion is the pacifier, also known as a “dummy.” Infants are born with a strong need to suck. Even in the womb, babies have been observed sucking on their fingers and toes. As such, pacifiers have been around for thousands of years in one form or another. 

    The use of a pacifier is a very hotly-debated topic. This can leave exhausted new parents wondering what’s best for their newborn. Some of the questions you might be asking are:

    • When can I give my baby a pacifier?
    • What are the pros and cons of pacifiers?
    • Can babies sleep with a pacifier?

    This post will take a detailed look at the above questions and answer them using evidence from scientific studies.

    FAQs About Baby Sleep

    American Academy of Pediatrics and Mayo Clinic indicate that pacifiers are safe for your baby to sleep with. Studies have also found a connection between pacifiers and the reduced risk of SIDS.

    Yes. It is recommended to introduce a pacifier to a newborn to help reduce the risk of SIDS. Sucking a pacifier may help them fall asleep and stay asleep longer. If the baby is breastfeeding, you may want to establish breastfeeding first.

    Sterilise all-new pacifiers. When handwashing, use dishwashing soap that's free of harsh chemicals. Be sure to air dry and squeeze out any remaining water.

    Although this can be a challenge, it is important to pay attention to and identify your newborn’s sleep signs. This will allow you to quickly decipher if they are hungry, need to be changed, or are ready for sleep.

    Time is of the essence because as your newborn passes their wake time window, they become overtired and agitated. This can drastically affect the quality of sleep your newborn receives.

    Pacifiers have a lifespan. They can break down over time, posing a risk to a baby. Before you even notice it, a pacifier can break apart from the nipple and guard, resulting in the baby choking on the separate piece.

    When is it ok to introduce a pacifier

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    If you wonder when to introduce a pacifier to your baby, you are probably worried about your child having trouble breastfeeding. The shape of a pacifier is different from the shape of a real nipple and can certainly create confusion for an infant who is trying to learn how to latch onto the breast for milk. It’s simply an issue of muscle memory.

    According to this article, the physical action babies use to suck on a pacifier is different from the physical action to extract milk from the breast. The same can be said for using a bottle. If a mother wants to breastfeed, it’s best if the pacifier stays on the shelf while the baby learns how to get milk from the breast.

    • For babies who drink from a bottle:
    • You can introduce a pacifier at any age.
    • For babies who are breastfeeding and don’t have any trouble latching:
    • 3-4 weeks.
    • For babies who are breastfeeding and DO have trouble latching:
    • 4+ weeks or whenever the baby has mastered breastfeeding.

    The key is this: establish a pattern of high-quality breastfeeding before you introduce a pacifier.

    As a new mother, it’s also important that your baby gets lots of milk. 

    However, it is also easy to assume at times that your hungry baby is just crying to be soothed – it can be tempting to pop in the pacifier so you can get a much-deserved break! 

    The problem with this is that your baby might be soothing because of the pacifier, but his real need – hunger – isn’t being properly met. Be careful. If a pacifier is introduced too early, it may cause you to accidentally cut back on the much-needed milk a baby is asking for.

    Remember: Only use a pacifier to soothe – never use it as a means to push off or ignore feeding.

    When to start using a pacifier if the baby is premature

    Premature babies must begin oral feeding as soon as possible. In 2009, this study found that premature babies given a pacifier were the quickest to begin oral feeding. Another interesting observation from this study also discovered that having premature babies listen to lullaby music aided in earlier oral feeding patterns.

    Regardless of what was found in the above study, you should always consult your doctor regarding the issue of pacifier introduction with a premature baby.

    Pros and Cons of Pacifiers

    There are certainly clear advantages and disadvantages to using a pacifier. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if you will use a pacifier. The following list can help you make a more informed decision.

    What are the pros of using a pacifier?

    • It’s better than sucking a thumb.
    •  Babies will find a way to suck on something. Introducing a pacifier is preferable to the habit of sucking on a thumb or finger. Thumb sucking can lead to dental problems if the sucking doesn’t stop before the age of two. It’s much easier to remove a pacifier than it is to remove a thumb!
    • It can teach a baby to self-soothe.
    • For parents, one of the most rewarding moments within the first year is when the baby falls asleep independently. A pacifier can help train your child to soothe without your physical presence. 
    • Pacifiers can help with travelling by plane.
    • Have you ever forcefully yawned when taking off or landing in an aeroplane to “pop” your ears? Pacifiers can help achieve the same effect and will protect your infant’s delicate ears during takeoff and landing. 
    • It can be used as a tool to help soothe your baby.
    • Sometimes babies are just fussy. You’ve gone through your checklist: clean diaper, full belly, plenty of sleep, and your baby is still crying. A pacifier can help calm your baby down, which can calm your nerves as well! 
    • Pacifiers can help reduce the risk of SIDS.
    • Multiple studies have shown a correlation between pacifier use and a lower risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome). The reasons why pacifiers help reduce the risk of SIDS is still unclear, but research is pretty detailed that giving your baby a pacifier at night can help. There are some steps you can take as a parent to help reduce the risk of SIDS. Here is another resource if you would like to learn more about reducing the risk of SIDS

    What are the disadvantages of using a pacifier?

    • A pacifier can interfere with breastfeeding:
    • As we mentioned earlier, one of the biggest objections to the pacifier is what’s known as “nipple confusion.” For babies still learning how to breastfeed, a pacifier can prove to be a significant barrier to learning. 
    • A pacifier can create tooth issues:
    • If your baby is still sucking a pacifier after 24 months, continued use can cause teeth to grow crooked. 
    • A pacifier can lead to an increased risk of oral candida:
    • Candida is a naturally occurring organism in the human mouth but can sometimes grow more than normal. When a pacifier isn’t cleaned, it can become infected with microorganisms that can lead to an increase in this condition. If you decide to use a pacifier, keep it clean!
    • It can be not easy to separate the child from a pacifier:
    • If a child has been using a pacifier to self-soothe for years, it can be difficult for them to separate. 
    • A pacifier can increase the risk of ear infections:
    • According to this study, there is a strong correlation between a higher rate of ear infections and the use of a pacifier. The study concludes that due to other non-measurable contributing factors, a parent doesn’t need to limit pacifier use unless their baby begins having ear infections.

    Tips for using a pacifier to keep everyone happy

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    • Use one-piece pacifiers that can’t come apart. This reduces the risk of choking.
    • Look for pacifiers that are made from natural rubber and other safe materials.
    • Avoid pacifiers that contain harmful chemicals like bisphenol-A (BPA).
    • Clean pacifiers by boiling them in sterile water for a few minutes.
    • It’s even OK to suck your baby’s pacifier clean sometimes — this might help prevent allergies later on.

    All good things must come to an end

    When your baby (or toddler) starts using their pacifier as a chewing toy or teether, it might be time to wean him off of it. One sign that your baby is chewing the pacifier rather than sucking it is constant drool.

    As with toilet training, there are several different ways to cut the proverbial umbilical cord to the baby’s pacifier. Try these tips to find out what works for your little one:

    • take it away cold turkey (and brave the tantrums)
    • give them the pacifier only at certain, consistent times — the slow and steady approach
    • limit the pacifier to one place, such as their crib
    • offer your child other ways to self-soothe — like a favourite blanket or toy

    Benefits of pacifiers

    Pacifiers are as important as baby wipes — and arguably have just as many benefits. Keep a few on hand to give to your newborn: at home, in your car, and purse.

    Rest assured that a pacifier is less habit-forming than sucking on a thumb, and habits are unlikely to form before six months.

    During sleep and nap time, pacifiers help:

    • babies fall asleep and stay asleep
    • babies relax and self-soothe back to sleep if they wake up

    Pacifiers may also help:

    • prevent SIDS in newborns
    • your baby exclusively breastfeed, if that’s what you want
    • your baby stay content between feedings longer

    Pacifiers help soothe and distract babies:

    • during general fussiness
    • from general anxiety or fear
    • when they’re sick or colicky (heaven forbid, but it happens)
    • when they’re getting a check-up or shots
    • when they’re being bathed but before they take to the water

    During flights and travel, a pacifier may:

    • help ease anxiety
    • help relieve ear pain from air pressure changes

    As new parents, you quickly discover that sleep is essential for growing your baby.

    You also probably know that getting your infant or newborn to sleep when it’s time for bed or a nap isn't easy. With Chicco by your side, don’t fret. 

    The PhysioForma pacifier is designed with sleep in mind. Learn about all the best ways of incorporating a pacifier into your baby’s sleep routine and more tips for resting easy.

    When it comes to your child’s sleep safety, doctors and researchers agree that it’s safe for newborns and babies to sleep with a pacifier.

    Many parents encourage newborns to sleep with pacifiers to help their children sleep or stay asleep. Pacifiers can also be offered to soothe a fussy baby before sleeping, after feeding, or when falling back asleep.

    Here are ten benefits of pacifiers for sleeping babies:

    • Pacifiers reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in newborns and babies
    • Pacifiers promote self-soothing skills essential for baby sleep cycles and routines
    • Pacifiers help get your baby to sleep or back to sleep
    • Pacifiers can soothe your fussy baby
    • Pacifier use among preterm babies may provide more weight gain and shorter hospital stays
    • Pacifiers satisfy your baby’s natural sucking reflex
    • Pacifiers have been shown to benefit colicky babies at night or during sleep routines
    • Pacifiers can be comforting to your child during stressful or painful situations, such as immunisation shots
    • Sucking on an aeroplane can help relieve painful pressure in the middle ear
    • Pacifiers can be tossed away when it’s time to break the habit, vs. baby’s thumb or fingers

    Risks of pacifiers

    There are a few risks to keep in mind with pacifiers. Nipple confusion can occur if a pacifier is used too soon, and your baby may:

    • prefer the pacifier to latch onto your breast
    • get tired and breastfeed for short periods only

    They can also be habit-forming, but generally only over six months. If this happens, your precious little one might:

    • become dependent on a pacifier to self-soothe while awake
    • wake up and cry if the pacifier falls out during sleep

    Illness can also occur if the pacifier isn’t cleaned often and adequately. They may:

    • spread germs
    • increase the risk of ear infections (more common after the age of 6 months)

    And finally, using a pacifier for too long can famously interfere with your baby’s incoming teeth. They can cause baby teeth to grow slightly crooked.

    Pacifier manufacturers have developed new shapes and sizes to combat this, and also keep in mind that baby teeth aren’t permanent. (The tooth fairy will be draining your pockets before you know it.)


    Pacifiers are safe for your newborn. When you give them one depends on you and your baby. You might prefer to have them practically come out of the womb with a pacifier and do fine. Or it may be better to wait a few weeks if they’re having trouble latching onto your breast.

    Pacifiers have pros and cons. A very important benefit is that they lower the risk of sleep-related deaths in newborns, especially babies under four months.

    As for the cons, you don’t have to worry about teething problems or ear infections due to pacifiers just yet if you have a newborn. Baby teeth begin to appear at about six months. Ear infections are also more common in babies at this age.

    It's best to wean your baby off the beloved pacifier for around one year. Until then, enjoy every moment!


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