Whether one refers to them as teething rings, pacifiers, dummies or binkies, many new parents feel anxious about letting their child suck on one. Many worry that giving their teething infant a teething ring will later bring about teeth problems, or oral fixations when they grow up, or being dependent on an object to sooth rather than learning to sooth themselves. But are these concerns justified or are teething rings perfectly safe to give your baby?
The first recorded use of pacifiers has been found on Sumerian sandstone tablets, around 3000 years ago. The Egyptians used coral teething rings and they had a head of Bes inscribed, a god associated with child welfare. In the 1600s white candy sticks were commonly used as teething rings for their! Gum sticks and gum rings were also used in the 17th and 18th centuries. Wax candles were popular as gum sticks, as well as sticks of liquorice dipped in honey.
The expression: born with a silver spoon in his or her mouth, comes about because wealthy parents gave their children a cool, silver spoon to help ease teething pains. Other items that have been used as teething rings or pacifiers include, hard bread, wet rags, root vegetables and bagels! The list goes on and on.
Of course Nature has already provided the perfect baby pacifier: mother’s breast. In many cultures, babies are carried everywhere that the mother goes and are soothed every time they cry by simply being breast fed. This often continues until the child is 2 or 3 years old, or even older.
But the breast isn’t always the answer for many mothers and their children. Many mothers can’t breastfeed for various reasons; they may have difficulty in producing enough milk, or a new arrival may need mother’s milk more than a child that is old enough to be weaned.
But are teething rings bad for baby?
Pacifiers are a controversial subject. For years dentists were adverse to the use of pacifiers and teething rings, pointing out the very real problems caused by those that were first dipped in sugar. Many dentists were also concerned that persistent sucking on a pacifier over a long period of time could result in the misalignment of secondary teeth in children. And many doctors warn that prolonged and heavy pacifier use can definitely interfere with speech development in older infants and toddlers.
However, recent studies have suggested that pacifier use may decrease the risk of SIDS, and in response to this the American Academy of Pediatrics recently released a statement recommending the use of pacifiers at naptime and bedtime through the first year of life (though not until after one month of age in breastfeeding infants).
So it would appear that pacifiers are not only safe but, in fact, can be a great benefit.
But many breastfeeding organizations refuse to accept this advice, at least for breastfeeding babies. They point out that breastfeeding frequently through the night offers the same sucking/lighter sleep benefit that is believed to be responsible for the reduced risk seen with pacifiers. And, unlike pacifiers, breastfeeding, also offers nutritional benefits and close interaction with another human being rather.
In conclusion, you should defer the use of pacifiers for as long as possible, especially if you’re breastfeeding. If you do use a pacifier, never dip it anything sweet – not even honey as this can cause botulism. Babies also have a tendency to lose their pacifier but you should never tie a pacifier around your baby’s neck, as strangulation is a real possibility. Clean you child’s pacifier after use: wash in soap and water; never put the pacifier in your own mouth to clean it. Finally, if you have any concerns, you should get advice from you doctor.