The Effects of Using a Baby Pacifier

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) explains that pacifier use has both pros and cons. Pacifier use is not necessarily harmful, reports the Mayo Clinic, but there are potential negative effects on things like tooth development and feeding habits of older children.

A parent or caregiver should review the positive and negative effects of using a pacifier before deciding whether to use one with their child.

Choosing not to use a pacifier may be difficult as many outside influences may try to persuade you to change your mind. Consider the effects carefully and adhere to those which you feel the strongest.


Babies are born with a very strong sucking reflex.

Some babies may have sucked their thumb or fingers in the womb. The act of sucking can sooth a baby.

The pacifier can provide a baby with short-term satisfaction while a caregiver is preparing a bottle, changing a diaper or completing any other task that leads the infant to cry.

The Mayo Clinic also points out that a pacifier can be a temporary distraction between feedings or during vaccinations.

It should not be the first method of soothing an infant. Instead, caregivers should try other methods like rocking or feeding first.

Sleep Aid

Baby lying down

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A pacifier may assist a baby in falling asleep.

The Mayo Clinic indicates that it can help an infant settle down when he is struggling to sleep.

The Mayo Clinic also point out that sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) risks can be reduced with the use of the pacifier. On the other side of this, is the development of a dependence on the pacifier to sleep, leading the infant to wake often if the pacifier falls out.


A child may develop a habit of sucking a thumb or fingers but the pacifier can be disposed of when the time has come to discontinue the tool.

The Mayo Clinic explains that the pacifier can be an easier habit to break than getting a child to stop sucking her hands or fingers.

Although the pacifier is less habit-forming than the fingers, it can collect bacteria, deteriorate and become lost. The Mayo Clinic suggests cleaning often and having a back-up that is identical.

Feeding Habits

Baby lying down

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The use of a pacifier early in life can interfere with breastfeeding. The breast is different than the pacifier or bottle.

The Breastfeeding website warns that an infant given the pacifier before proper sucking or latching to the breast has been established may develop feeding troubles.

This can make breastfeeding painful for the mother or unsatisfactory for the infant. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that waiting until the baby is a month old can reduce the feeding interference.

Ear Infection

The Mayo Clinic suggests the rate of middle ear infection can increase with the use of a pacifier. The rate of infection is generally lowest during the first six months, which is when the pacifier can most impact the SIDS risks.

Dental Problems

Prolonged use of the pacifier can cause long-term dental problems. The Mayo Clinic explains that this does not apply to the first few years of life. Later stages of development can cause a child's teeth to slant outward.