Versailles - 78000

The pacifier: advantages and disadvantages as seen by your osteopath

June 06, 2023 Marie Messager - Osteopath Versailles 78000 Yvelines Gynecology - Pediatrics - Pregnant - Baby

Pacifier use in babies and toddlers is a hotly debated topic in the field of child health. Parents often wonder whether pacifiers are beneficial or detrimental to their children's development. It's true that pacifiers have a very useful calming effect, and they're very hard to part with.

This article will look at the findings of recent scientific studies to provide an informed perspective on this controversial subject.

The benefits of pacifier use for babies

Soothing and stress-reducing

Studies have shown that pacifier use can help soothe babies and reduce stress. Non-nutritive sucking stimulates the production of endorphins, promoting relaxation and anxiety relief in infants.

Pain relief

Sucking on a pacifier can also help relieve pain in babies, particularly during episodes of colic or painful medical procedures. The stimulation of sucking activates nerve pathways that inhibit pain transmission.

Potential disadvantages of pacifier use in babies

Effects on breast-feeding

pacifiers and breastfeeding

A common concern is that prolonged pacifier use may interfere with breastfeeding. Some studies suggest that early introduction of the pacifier can lead to nipple confusion and reduced breast milk production. However, further research is needed to establish a clear link between pacifier use and breastfeeding.

Jaw and tooth development

Prolonged pacifier use can affect jaw development and tooth alignment in children. Studies have shown that frequent and prolonged pacifier use beyond 6 months can lead to changes in the shape of the palate and the position of the teeth, which may require subsequent orthodontic treatment.

Studies and the pacifier:

Studies on the benefits of pacifier use :

1 "Non-nutritive sucking habits in infancy: A potential protective effect for sudden infant death syndrome" - Hauck, F.R. et al. (2005)

This study suggests that pacifier use during sleep may reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

2 "The analgesic effect of non-nutritive sucking in newborns: A randomized controlled trial" - Carbajal, R. et al. (2003)

This study shows that non-nutritive sucking, like that of a pacifier, can relieve pain in newborns during painful medical procedures.

Studies on the disadvantages of pacifier use :

1 "Effects of prolonged pacifier use on dental and occlusal characteristics in children" - Warren, J.J. et al. (2005)

This study examines the effect of prolonged pacifier use on dental and occlusal development in children, highlighting associations between pacifier use and changes in palate shape and tooth position.

2. "Pacifier use and breastfeeding: A descriptive profile of maternal attitudes" - Howard, C.R. et al. (1999) 

This study explores the relationship between pacifier use and breastfeeding, highlighting concerns about possible nipple confusion and reduced breastfeeding duration.


3. "Pacifier Use and Otitis Media in Infants: A Meta-analysis of Observational Studies" - Niemelä, M. et al. (2000)

This study is a meta-analysis that examines data from several observational studies to assess the association between pacifier use and the risk of acute otitis media in infants. The results indicate an association between prolonged pacifier use and an increased risk of acute otitis media.

It should be noted that these studies represent only a sample of the research available on the subject.

Recommendations for the appropriate use of pacifiers

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Limit duration and intensity of use

It is advisable to limit pacifier use to specific times, such as sleep or times of distress. Prolonged and excessive pacifier use can increase the risk of oral complications and interfere with speech development.

Choosing the right teat

Choosing an age-appropriate teat is essential to minimize potential risks. Orthodontic teats, designed to mimic the shape of the mother's breast, may be preferable to support natural oral development.

So how do you stop pacifying?

Your osteopath's advice on giving up the pacifier:

When it comes to weaning a child off the pacifier, it's important to adopt a gradual, caring approach. Here are a few tips to ease the transition:

  1. Start by gradually reducing use: Rather than abruptly eliminating the pacifier, consider gradually limiting its use to specific times of the day, such as sleep. This will enable your child to gradually get used to spending more time without the pacifier.

  2. Distraction and substitution: Offer healthy, comforting alternatives to distract the child from the urge to use the pacifier. For example, offer him a soft toy or encourage him to turn to playful activities that capture his attention.

  3. Involve the child in the decision: Involve the child in the weaning process by involving him or her in the decision-making process. Talk to him about the benefits of no longer using the pacifier, and make it a step towards new stages of growth and autonomy.

  4. Use positive reinforcement: Praise and reward your child when he manages to go longer periods without the pacifier. This will encourage him and reinforce his desire to gradually do without the pacifier.

  5. Consult an osteopath: An osteopath can play a vital role in providing specific techniques to support pacifier weaning. By assessing the child's posture and oral development, an osteopath can recommend exercises and adjustments that will ease the transition without compromising musculoskeletal balance.

It's important to remember that every child is unique, and the weaning process may vary according to age, personality and individual needs. Be patient and supportive throughout this important stage of your child's growth and development.


The importance of a consultation with an osteopath

osteopath baby palate oral disorders jaw

Regular assessment and follow-up

An osteopath can play a key role in assessing oral development and posture in babies and young children. Regular consultation (1-2 times a year) can help to detect and treat any pacifier-related problems early, thus promoting healthy growth.

Appropriate osteopathic techniques

In the event of potential complications due to pacifier use, an osteopath can offer specific techniques to help restore balance and promote optimal development of the child's jaw and musculoskeletal system. 

An osteopath can play a vital role in providing specific techniques to support pacifier weaning. By assessing the child's posture and oral development, an osteopath can recommend exercises and adjustments that will ease the transition without compromising musculoskeletal balance.

It is advisable to consult an osteopath trained in pediatrics, but also in maxillofacial and orthodontic disorders.

Your osteopath can work in a multidisciplinary team with an orthodontist and/or physiotherapist.

Conclusion about pacifiers

There are both advantages and disadvantages to pacifier use in babies and toddlers. It is important to consider current scientific evidence when making decisions about pacifier use. By following the appropriate recommendations and consulting an osteopath for regular assessment, it is possible to minimize potential risks and support healthy development in infants and young children.

Marie Messager
Osteopath D.O
2 rue Alexis de Tocqueville
78000 Versailles

Marie messager osteopath versailles

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