When it comes to choosing whether or not to give your baby a pacifier, most moms typically have one of two distinct opinions on the subject. Either they swear by pacis and don't know how to survive without them, or they think they're absolutely ridiculous and would NEVER allow their baby to have one.
And sometimes, those of us who decide to use pacifiers wind up feeling guilty about it, either because of family members who insist we don't need them, or because we're worried our babies will wind up with messed up teeth or something.
But as it turns out, giving your baby his beloved binky might not be a bad thing at all -- especially if you're one of those moms who cleans the pacifier by sucking on it yourself.
Ok, so I never did that, because, well -- GROSS! But moms who pop the binky into their mouth to dust it off may actually be protecting their little ones from eczema and asthma. (Yes, really.)
Dr. Bill Hesselmar of Queen Silvia Children’s Hospital in Gothenburg, Sweden conducted a study on the subject, which was published in the journal Pediatrics. He found that out of 136 infants who used a pacifier during the first six months of life, 65 of their parents reported sucking on it to clean it. Of those 65 kids, asthma and eczema were "strongly reduced" when they were examined at the age of 18 months.
Dr. Hesselmar explains, "When parents clean a pacifier with saliva, they're introducing gut microflora, the microscopic organisms -- mostly bacteria -- that live in the digestive tract. We know that if infants have diverse microflora in the gut, then children will have less allergy and less eczema. When parents suck on the pacifier, they are transferring microflora to the child."
Hmm. Makes sense.
And in addition to possibly helping reduce asthma and eczema, here are four other reasons giving your baby the binky may be a positive thing. (Yay!)
- Promotes self-soothing -- It's pretty simple, babies like to suck. They feel secure when they do, and the sucking reflex calms them down, which makes them happier and less stressed.
- Helps baby sleep -- Let's face it, some babies fall asleep much easier than others. But since the pacifier helps with soothing, it can also promote easier sleep.
- Reduced risk of SIDS -- Though experts aren't sure how or why, infants who use pacifiers have a 61 percent reduction in the risk of SIDS. One theory says that using one keeps a baby in a better state of arousal, and another states that it may help push the tongue forward and keep the airway open. Yet another theory is that the pacifier helps the baby have better cardiac control.
- Easy to wean -- Again, babies want and need to suck. It's much easier to break a child from using a pacifier because you can take it away. Fingers and thumbs, on the other hand, aren't something you can simply toss into the garbage when it comes time to wean.
Do your baby use a pacifier? Do you ever clean it by putting it in your mouth?
Image via WarmSleepy/Flickr