Pacifier alternatives for toddlers

Motherhood is characterized by making critical decisions. At the early stages of child development, you might have introduced your child to a pacifier to help them self-soothe and satisfy the suckling reflex. Additionally, the American Academy of Paediatrics recommends using a pacifier to reduce the occurrence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). It also gets to a time when you need to stop. The best time to start the weaning-off process is between 6 and 12 months. Various reasons can trigger you to stop using it and finding pacifier alternatives for toddlers.

Pacifier Substitute

Some of the reasons that can motivate you to get a pacifier substitute have been discussed below.

  • Affects teeth development

Prolonged use of pacifiers is believed to have an adverse negative impact on the kid’s dental formula. Therefore, the pacifier alters the shape of the mouth and teeth, causing dental problems such as overbite and crossbite, and mean overjet. Dentists debate that you can reverse the condition during the early years of child development, and the baby’s teeth shift back to normal. However, in adult teeth, the toddler’s mouth and teeth will be permanently damaged. Since adult teeth develop as early as four years, you will need to start weaning off the pacifier between 2 to 3 years to avoid permanent damage.

  • Ear infection

It is known that the use of a pacifier predisposes your child to an ear infection. For example, studies show that a toddler who uses a pacifier is three times more likely to get an ear infection. 

  • Possible nipple confusion

Continued use of a pacifier may confuse the artificial nipple from the pacifier and that from your breasts. This is because the baby’s muscles used to extract milk from the breasts are different from those used in a pacifier. Therefore, you should introduce pacifiers to your baby when they have fully learned how to latch correctly.

  • Affects speech development

Prolonged use of a pacifier might cause speech delays in your child. With a pacifier in the child’s mouth, they will not imitate noise or sounds, which is critical to learning how to speak. Therefore, speech and language pathologists recommend stopping using a pacifier between the age of 12 to 18 months as this is when a child starts developing speech.

  • Dependence

Pacifiers have proven to be addictive over time. Your toddler might probably get attached to having the pacifier in their mouth and will cry whenever you want to take it away. 

Pacifier alternatives for toddlers 

By understanding all the above, you can now be convinced why you need to stop using a pacifier for your baby. But, it is not as easy as it may sound because your infant uses the pacifier to cope with frustrating emotions. Therefore, by finding an alternative for why babies love pacifiers, you will be able to have a seamless transition. Below are some of the informed suggestions on the best pacifier substitute.

  1. Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding is regarded as the best replacement for pacifiers. Nothing can ever go wrong with nursing. At some point, you will have to practice comfort nursing, where you breastfeed your baby to calm them down. Besides using breastfeeding as a calming tool, your baby gets nutritional gain and immunity boost from the breastmilk as it contains antibodies that prevent disease.

2. Rocking your baby

Rocking, bouncing, and swaying is considered as an effective way of soothing your baby. You might need to seek help from a glider or other rocking tools to help soothe your baby. Additionally, bouncing on a yoga ball is still excellent in soothing a fussy baby. This method works magic, and with no time, your baby will be back to being calm. It is necessary to make sure that you position and support their neck and head properly to avoid any injuries while rocking your baby.

3. Swaddling

Swaddling is a good pacifier alternative since it gives the baby a sense of warmth, security, and comfort all blended. When swaddling, be keen to notice any movement so that you free the baby’s arm. It would help if you also bought swaddle clothes that make it easier to change diapers by having a zip at the bottom. You should understand that your baby might not like being swaddled, and if this is the case, a sleeping bag can be used in its place. 

4. White noise

A womb is a quiet place; hence the baby is used in this kind of environment. Therefore, it makes sense why using a shushing voice effectively works to soothe your baby. Alternatively, you can consider buying a white noise machine that amazingly soothes your baby. When looking for a white noise machine, you can choose a portable one that the baby can move with. If a white noise machine is expensive for you, a hairdryer or a vacuum cleaner is an equally better option.

5. Teething toys

Your baby might become extra fussy during teething, meaning you will need to give them some comfort. The best option to soothe the baby is a teething toy which she can chew on to counter the pressure of the gumming action. You need to pay much attention to the materials used to make the teething toy. Natural materials such as silicone and wood are a better option than potentially toxic plastic chemicals. A modification on the teething toy will have you adding frozen breastmilk to provide an extra soothing effect to the gums.

6. Night light

You probably might have noticed that your baby starts to cry whenever they are in a dark room. Consider using a night light or a projector in your baby’s room to deal with this. The light will distract the baby as they will draw all their attention to it. Giving them a sense of security. Choose a night light based on what entices them to make it effective.

7. Using a bottle

Bottles with straws are pretty efficient in weaning off your baby from a pacifier. Immediately your baby wakes up or starts to cry; you can give them a bottle filled with water or milk; the bottle needs to be spillproof. Since it also has the exact sucking mechanism as a pacifier, it would be a suitable replacement. After it becomes a routine, you can place the bottle by the side of their crib or stroller so that they can pick it on their own when need be.

8. New toy

Using a new toy as an alternative for a pacifier usually works for kids above two years old. The toy would distract the baby, and you don’t need to soothe him for weaning off the pacifier.

One last thing on Pacifier alternatives for toddlers

Final thoughts A pacifier is an excellent go-to option when looking for an easy way to soothe your baby. But over time, you will need to wean them off this routine as it causes more problems down the road, from affecting teeth development, some ear infections, and being too dependent on the item. Parenting is a learning journey; thus, the weaning off process is learning what your child likes and use that to distract them from the pacifier. 

(Visited 93 times, 1 visits today)