Real Life Solutions: Pacifier Use

We are proud to have Dr. Linda Mintle in ParentLife each month answering questions submitted from readers. To submit a question for Dr. Mintle, e-mail it to parentlife@lifeway.com and include “? for Dr. Mintle” on the subject line. This month we have an extra Q&A from Dr. Mintle we wanted to share.

Pacifiers in the tree
source: Dilona

Q: I have been trying very hard not to have my baby use a pacifier. I’m the only one of my friends who seems to be overly concerned about this. My mother-in-law is telling me to lighten up. I’ve read that pacifiers can affect a baby’s speech. Am I overreacting?

A: This is a generational question that parents must consider. Pacifiers are typically used to soothe and distract a baby.

Here is what we know. One positive finding about pacifier use is that it has been linked to reduced risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) in sleeping babies. On the negative side, thumb sucking, pacifier use, and even bottle use have been associated with an increase in the risk of speech disorders when the sucking is long-term.

Breastfeeding did not have this effect on children and in fact, promotes positive oral development. And pacifier use can interfere with breastfeeding.

In terms of pacifier use, the results from a 2009 study published in BMC Pediatrics were based on children who used pacifiers for more than three years. These kids were three times more likely to develop speech impediments. Now, the authors of this study also said that pacifier use and thumb-sucking for less than three years increased risk. The reason has to do with how the sucking motion changes the normal shape of the dental arch and bite.

We also know that pacifier use can be associated with middle ear infections. However, the Mayo Clinic tells us that when the risk of SIDS is the highest (birth to six months), rates of middle ear infections are also low.  The recommendation to reduce SIDS is to offer a pacifier at bed or naptime until the age of one.

So the information is a bit confusing. I don’t believe you are overreacting. The concern about pacifier use grows as your baby grows. You can choose other ways to soothe your baby. I’m a big believer in nursing because there are so many benefits to the baby and you. If you are breastfeeding, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends you wait until four to six weeks after birth to introduce a pacifier. Certainly, don’t give a baby a pacifier all day, choose a silicone one-piece to avoid breaking (a choking hazard), and don’t force the use.

Resource: Caring for Your Baby and Young Child: Birth to Age 5

A Twist on Tummy Time by Brian Dembowczyk

Tummy time
source: dryfish

Tummy time helps your baby develop muscles that help with rolling over, sitting up, and crawling. Always put your baby to sleep on her back, but she can enjoy tummy time during the day.

For a new twist on tummy time …

  1. Use a bolster or rolled up towel to prop up your baby.
  2. Dim the lights and lie down next to your baby.
  3. Shine a flashlight on the wall.
  4. Draw your baby’s attention so she can focus on the beam of light.
  5. Move the light side to side very slowly.

Did your babies enjoy tummy time? 

Growth Spurts: Birth to 1

Not An Apple
photo source

Baby choices

Choices are important for baby development. Your baby develops thinking skills as he looks at two toys and makes a choice of which one to grasp. He exercises muscles as he reaches for a toy. He remembers and develops preferences for certain objects. He begins to explore independence as he acts on those preferences. As he makes choices, he is beginning to develop decision-making skills and confidence in his abilities.

Comment on what he chose: “You chose the red ball.” As he grows, offer more opportunities for him to make choices. In the future, your child will face many decisions. He will hear lots of ideas and beliefs. The ability to make tough decisions and develop spiritual convictions is rooted in these first choices.

Well-Baby Visits

Well-baby visits are frequent checkups to monitor your baby’s growth and development. The pediatrician will check the following:

  • Measurements. Your baby’s length, weight, and head circumference are measured and recorded on a growth chart to observe steady growth over time.
  • Head. The doctor will check the fontanels (the soft spots) of your baby’s head, as well as any flat spots.
  • Ears. The doctor will observe your baby’s hearing and check for fluid or infection in her ears.
  • Eyes. The doctor will track your baby’s eye movements, as well as look for blocked tear ducts and eye discharge.
  • Mouth. The doctor will examine your baby’s mouth for thrush, a common yeast infection. As your baby grows and starts teething, the doctor will examine her incoming teeth.
  • Heart/lungs. The doctor will listen to your baby’s heart and lungs to ensure that breathing and heart rhythms are normal.
  • Abdomen. The doctor will check for hernias and enlarged organs.
  • Hips/legs. The doctor will move your baby’s legs to detect any dislocation.
  • Genitalia. The doctor will check for tenderness, lumps, and infection.

Do you dread or look forward to well-baby visits? I feel like I didn’t mind them until my toddler was underweight … now I feel like I’m being reprimanded every time!