Pacifiers, like their name indicates, help to soothe and pacify a fussing baby. And a pacifier is better, causing less tooth problems than a baby's thumb or fingers!
A pacifier should not be used when a baby could be otherwise pacified. Check first to see if your baby is hungry, wet, tired, or just restless, and deal with those issues before turning to the pacifier. A baby who is teething may chew on their pacifier, so watch for signs. Chewing on a pacifier can cause pieces to break off and pose a choking hazard. Offer your baby a teething ring instead.
A pacifier must be used properly to prevent problems. Pacifiers seem like simple things, but improperly used pacifiers can lead to breast-feeding issues, tooth decay and bite problems, and possibly ear infections. A worn out pacifier can fall apart and become a choking hazard. Never dip pacifiers in honey or sugar to sweeten your baby's sucking, both of which can lead to tooth decay. And it should go without saying, but just in case: to prevent the risk of strangulation, never tie or hang a pacifier around your baby's neck.
A pacifier must be kept in good, clean condition - or else toss it. Before each use, wash your baby's pacifier in soap and hot water. Some moms pop their baby's pacifier in their mouths for a quick clean, but this can spread germs. Inspect pacifiers regularly to watch for signs of wear and tear such as changes in nipple texture, rips, or holes. Time, heat, sunlight, and certain foods can damage pacifiers. Replace them at least every 2 months.
Your baby will eventually need to part with binky. To prepare binky-dependent tots for weaning, begin limiting the time you allow your baby to use their pacifier. If you have to, talk to your child about setting a stop date and reward them for progress toward their goal of a pacifier-free future.
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