Although many parents use soothers to soothe their babies, some parents absolutely hate the idea of using them. Others are sure they won't use one before their baby is born but change their minds when faced with a crying baby.
If you decide to use a soother:
- use an orthodontic pacifier
- keep it as clean as possible – sterilize it as you would any other bottle-feeding nipple
- renew your baby's soother often – as with nipples, check regularly for cracks, splits and holes, which can trap germs, and replace with a new soother immediately
- never dip the pacifier in sweet foods such as honey or orange juice to stop your baby crying (BDHF 2005) - this can lead to rapid tooth decay
- try limiting soother use to key times, such as, during spells of colic or just for settling. Prolonged use of pacifiers has been linked to middle ear infections and other problems
- you could wait for your baby to need a soother rather than automatically giving it to them
- try to "wean" your child off their soother before their first birthday (it is much easier to do it then, than at two to three years old) and definitely before their permanent teeth come through (usually at the age of six)
- don't let using a pacifier become a habit
Getting rid of the soother: If your child is using their soother all the time or not giving it up as soon as you would like, try these ideas:
- gradually decrease the times when you let your child use their pacifier
- restrict soother use to key times during the day, such as bedtime or when your child is ill.
- Be firm.
- reward your child with fun activities, stickers or star charts - don't give them sweets instead of their soother
- point out older girls and boys, who don't use pacifiers, to your child - pre-schoolers love being more grown-up
- encourage your child to give all their soothers away to a person who is important to them, such as a grandparent or a new baby.
Remember your child will grow out of their reliance on their soother.