Pacifier: practical tips for moms (and dads)

In collaboration with Chicco

Sucking is a natural instinct of the baby, present well before birth (many ultrasound scans show the fetus sucking its thumb). Indeed, it is precisely the instinct to suck that allows the baby to feed and it is always through sucking that he learns to coordinate breathing and swallowing, to stimulate the functionality of the muscles of the face and to develop the mouth correctly. For a child, therefore. , sucking is a spontaneous gesture which, by stimulating the production of serotonin, gives him pleasant sensations, infusing him with calm and serenity.
The soother, more commonly known as a pacifier, therefore plays a very important role in the very first phase of psychophysical well-being (as it is perceived by the newborn as a "safe haven" where to take refuge in moments of agitation) and for the correct formation of the oral cavity, facilitating movements of tongue and palate.

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Pacifier yes or no? What is there to know

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To the question "pacifier yes pacifier no?" cot death), as breathing is facilitated by the position of the tongue and sleep is less profound. Of course, in addition to the characteristics of the soother, its correct use is essential: it is very important not to dip the soother in sweet substances. because this could cause tooth decay and accustom the child from an early age to too sweet flavors.

How to choose the right pacifier: every age has its own pacifier

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The general advice is to prefer pacifiers with orthodontic teat designed to favor the natural positioning of the tongue and to evenly distribute the pressure on the palate, actively favoring the correct development of the mouth. The base must be super thin, to accommodate the optimal closure of the mouth and thus reduce the risk of misalignment of the dental arches. Often on the market we also hear of "cherry pacifier", but it is a type of soother exceeded that exerts incorrect pressure right in the center of the palate.

Once you have identified the pacifier with the right teat, you need to choose the one of the most suitable size for your baby. For newborns, the orthodontic teat must be smaller and shorter, so as to adapt to the mouth of the little ones. The pacifier must be lighter, so it is easier for the baby to hold it in the mouth and the shield must be designed to leave the nose and chin free, with large ventilation holes to avoid stagnation of saliva and allow the skin to breathe.

For older children, however, just choose the size of the teat based on the age range. There are usually two types of pacifiers: the extra-soft, called rubber pads and those with a rigid shield. The former are preferred for bedtime: they do not disturb sleep because they are soft and delicate. The so-called rigid shield soothers, on the other hand, always have an orthodontic teat but with different shield shapes and lots of patterns and colors to choose from.

With respect to materials: you can choose between a silicone pacifier and a rubber pacifier. Both have different characteristics but it is not correct to say that one is better than the other, they are simply different: Silicone is a transparent and hygienic material, it is tasteless and odorless and does not deform over time. Rubber, on the other hand, is a soft material. and natural, elastic and resistant. This last feature makes it ideal for children whose first teeth have sprung up: it is more resistant to lacerations than silicone (which, being non-deformable, resists sterilization better).

When to start: the exception of preterm babies

Usually in babies born at full term it is recommended start with the pacifier only when breastfeeding has started, when the baby is well accustomed to sucking the mother's milk and the breast produces well.

There is, however, an "exception on"use of the pacifier from the first days of life and concerns the preterm infants. In their case, the pacifier favors independent feeding and works as an analgesic in intensive care: the systematic use of the pacifier in preterm babies, who for obvious reasons are still unable to latch on to the breast and are fed with a nasogastric tube, can facilitate the acquisition of the ability to suck and swallow and therefore to take milk from the mother's breast and bottle as soon as possible.

Sterilizing the pacifier: instructions for use

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How do you clean or better sterilize the pacifier? First thing to do as soon as you buy the soother and before giving it to the baby: you need to put the pacifier in boiling water for 5 minutes, then letting the water cool, this to ensure maximum hygiene.
Once the first sterilization is done, the regularity with which to clean the pacifier changes according to the age of the child: in the first six months, when his immune system is still fragile, the pacifier must be sterilized at least once a day and in any case every time. that comes into contact with a dirty environment. Instead, it is only necessary to rinse it under running water if it falls in a clean environment, while there is no need to wash it if it falls between the sheets of the cot or cradle. After six months, when the baby's immune system has become stronger, daily sterilization is no longer necessary (it can be done more occasionally, until it is completely eliminated by simply washing the pacifier with water).

Having said that, let's see how to sterilize the pacifier, the most common methods include cleaning with boiling water, with special electric or steam sterilizers or with disinfectant (instead, parental saliva is not recommended: it is not a good idea, you risk the transmission of bacteria).
Sterilizing the pacifier with boiling water is perhaps the oldest method in the world, just soak it in boiling water for about five minutes and then let it cool. The pacifier can also be disinfected without a sterilizer by immersing it for a few hours in a solution based on sodium hypochlorite. Finally, there are those who prefer to sterilize the pacifier in the microwave: in this case the pacifier must first be placed in a container with water and activated at 750-1000 watts for 3 minutes.

Any suggestions

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It is always advisable to check the pacifier frequently, especially when the first teeth begin to appear, to check for any breakages or small incisions and to avoid using them if there are any. Better, however, to replace the pacifier at all ". approximately every two months, regardless of any breakages, and make sure you keep at least a spare pair at home and one always in your bag or backpack (it is well known that soothers tend to disappear at less than opportune moments).
Another useful habit is to attach the pacifier to the dress with a special clip (to be removed during bedtime): it avoids having to collect and clean the pacifier every two minutes. On the other hand, never tie the pacifier around the baby's neck.

Do not dip the soother in sweet substances: it could cause tooth decay and accustom the baby from an early age to too sweet flavors.

Finally, do not systematically resort to the soother when the baby cries: you risk creating a sort of "addiction". The pacifier certainly helps to reassure the child and to transmit security, but it is important that parents, before indulging their puppy's crying by giving him the beloved pacifier, try to understand his real needs. A small child uses crying to communicate and responding to this request immediately with a pacifier is not correct: instead, one should understand his needs and try to satisfy them.

When and how to remove the pacifier for a "detachment" without trauma

The Ministry of Health recommends remove the pacifier within 36 months, starting already after 24 to implement dissuasive actions to induce the little one to gradually leave him. Often it is the children themselves who, as they grow up, spontaneously abandon the pacifier. Sometimes, however, the "detachment" is not so simple and to convince children to get rid of the beloved soother you need to have more patience. How to take off the pacifier in these cases?
Obviously, the pacifier must never disappear overnight, but on the contrary, small and gradual measures must be implemented to unaccustom the child to the use of the pacifier:

  • first of all start limiting its use to certain times of the day, such as bedtime;
  • Shift the child's attention to other objects or new activities;
  • involve him in the decision by asking him, for example, where he wants it to be "hidden" or whether to "give it to the fairy";
  • associate each progress with a small reward (not necessarily a toy: a double dose of kisses and cuddles from mum or dad, or better yet both, may be enough);
  • show a lot of understanding by not reproaching the child if he insists on wanting the pacifier and possibly letting him take the first step, while continuing with the "dissuasive actions" just listed.

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