Did you know that the use of a pacifier or other feeding devices can cause orofacial myofunctional disorders such a tongue thrusting and malocclusions?
My son in seven months old. I exclusively breastfed him for the stipulated six months, but since I’ve had to resume work, I have begun weaning him. However, I do still nurse him before bedtime and as often as I can. I recently read somewhere that the use of a pacifier has some pros and cons, especially when it comes to weaning. How true is this? Will it really help wean him effectively or will it cause permanent damage if it forms a habit? Please advise.
Query answered by Effath Yasmin is India’s leading International Board Certified lactation Consultant (IBCLC), Biodynamic CranioSacral Therapist, internationally certified lactation educator and the founder director of Nourish & Nurture Lactation Care & Parenting Education.
Congratulations on exclusively breastfeeding your baby. I can imagine how confused you must be feeling. Here is some information which may guide you in this situation. It might help you to understand that sucking is a necessary biological restorative for babies and growing children. Your baby needs to nurse for security, positive hormonal releases, bonding and togetherness. Allowing him to comfort nurse, providing nursing time, meeting his nutritive and comforting needs, normally reduces or altogether eliminates clinginess and separation anxiety. However, a pacifi er may be just a compensatory mechanism. While it can meet your son’s basic need for physical sucking, it does not fulfi l the need for comfort and the regulation of his autonomous nervous system that sucking at a mother’s breast can provide.
It might help to know that mothers are primary caregivers and babies will look to them for pacifying. This is natural. Unfortunately, society tends to make us feel like we are not supposed to be used as pacifiers. Your baby’s connect to his life and his environment is through you as a mother, and this is beneficial in all ways for your growing child.
Now, weaning is an interactive process between you and your baby. Additionally, it’s important to remember that your baby can be completely trusted to wean himself as his security and comfort needs are slowly and effectively met. You must remember that this is not a habit that needs to be broken. Weaning is actually a a milestone a baby reaches his own internal pace. Remember that milestone markers are different for each child, just like walking, talking, and other milestone are different for each child.
The need for sucking is real, too. For example, many babies forced to wean before they’re ready, resort to sucking on their thumbs, fingers, hair, blankets and pacifiers. Sucking is a tool for growing and is a healthy need of a baby, not a habit that they form as commonly portrayed. According to Norma Jane Bumgarner in her book Mothering your Nursing Toddler, “A baby is learning to trust and depend on other human beings, especially his mother, and to suppose that nutrition is primary significance and that attachment is secondary, will be a mistake.”
Moreover, exclusive breastfeeding has played a huge role in influencing the shape of the hard palate and building the muscles needed for the tongue’s correct swallowing action, and alignment of the teeth and dental arch. The use of a pacifier or other feeding devices can cause orofacial myofunctional disorders such a tongue thrusting and malocclusions. All these structures and functions have a great impact on the airway and have been linked to Obstructive Sleep Apnea and many other airway issues. |MB