While many parents view pacifiers as sleep props and may tend to shy away from them, it turns out a pacifier may actually help prevent SIDS in newborns.
Even the authors of On Becoming Babywise suggest that it may help to give your baby a pacifier, especially after feeding:
Pacifiers bring comfort and help babies relax, although some babies show no interest in them. Some research suggests that SIDS rates among infants who use a pacifier is significantly lower that those who do not.
Some of that research comes from the American Academy of Pediatrics, who recommends that parents consider offering pacifiers to infants one month and older at the onset of sleep to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). According to the article, not only should pacifier use not be actively discouraged, it suggests it may in fact be especially beneficial in the first six months of life.
According to the AAP, the exact mechanism of benefit for reducing rates of SIDS is not fully understood, but pacifier use may decrease the likelihood of rolling into the prone position, increase arousal, maintain airway patency, decrease gastroesophageal reflux and resultant sleep apnea, or increase respiratory drive with carbon dioxide retention.
The following list from HealthyChildren.org offers helpful guidelines for using a pacifier at bedtime with your baby in hopes of preventing SIDS:
Offer a pacifier at nap time and bedtime. This helps reduce the risk of SIDS.
If you are breastfeeding, wait until breastfeeding is going well before offering a pacifier. This usually takes 3 to 4 weeks. If you are not breastfeeding, you can start a pacifier as soon as you like.
It's OK if your baby doesn't want to use a pacifier. You can try offering a pacifier again, but some babies don't like to use pacifiers.
If the pacifier falls out after your baby falls asleep, you don't have to put it back in.
Do not use pacifiers that attach to infant clothing.
Do not use pacifiers that are attached to objects, such as stuffed toys and other items that may be a suffocation or choking risk.
With many causes of SIDS being still unknown, it seems offering a pacifier to baby at bedtime may be one simple way of preventing the tragedy.
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