Various forms of pacifiers have been used since before recorded history. The first pacifiers that closely resemble the ones we use today first came on the scene in 1903, a la Sears and Roebuck. Parents the world over swear by that little piece of plastic and latex to help soothe fussy babies.
You probably already knew that pacifiers helped babies fall asleep. It isn’t exactly news. Over the years, there has been much hearty debate over whether or not pacifiers were good for babies, with any number of different reasons why babies should or should not be given a pacifier.
Recent studies have lain to rest arguments against giving younger babies a pacifier during sleep times, however. Next to laying your baby down to sleep on her back and refraining from smoking around your baby, giving baby a pacifier when you lay her down to sleep may very well be your best defense against SIDS.
In the most recent studies, which were conducted in California, it is conservatively estimated that using a pacifier reduces your child’s chances of SIDS by over 50%. In the study, only 4% of babies who had died of SIDS had been using a pacifier.
Babies between the ages of one month and one year old should be put to sleep with a pacifier, unless there are extenuating circumstances precluding it. If you are breast feeding your baby, you should not use a pacifier before one month, as it could cause problems with baby learning how to latch onto the breast. Babies over a year old are generally considered to be out of the danger zone for SIDS.
This is not to say that you should force a pacifier on your baby. Most babies will take them willingly, but if your baby won’t take one, you shouldn’t disrupt her rest by trying to force the issue. Additionally, you don’t need to work about putting the pacifier back into baby’s mouth if she spits it out while she is sleeping.
Some time between one and two years of age, you should wean your baby off of the pacifier. Using a pacifier beyond two years old could be bad for your baby’s teeth. If you are having trouble weaning your baby off of the pacifier, ask your pediatrician for suggestions.