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Health & Baby

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Pacifiers or Thumbsucking: Which Is Worse?

Month 5, Week 2

Babies suck to soothe themselves, which is why many infants depend on pacifiers or thumbs when they aren't nursing or taking a bottle. Some parents are anti-pacifier, worried that their children will need braces or that the habit is hard to break. If your child is used to a pacifier, try phasing the pacifiers out after six months.

Here's what you need to know:

  • Sucking a pacifier while sleeping may lower your baby's risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Neither are perfect: Pacifiers can increase the risk of ear infections, but thumb-sucking can add germs to your baby's mouth.
  • Thumbs are lower maintenance, because babies know how to find them in the dark. Some babies cry in the middle of the night when the pacifier falls out.
  • As long as your child gives up her habit before her permanent teeth come in, her smile should be fine.
  • Try to keep the pacifier in the crib and limit its use to nap and night time.

Your Baby's Development This Week

Your roly-poly little one may be about to master a new skill: rolling over. Many babies lying on their stomachs will roll onto their backs for the first time this month. Some roll over slightly later, and some flip from back to stomach first – both are perfectly normal.

Here's what else to expect from your little mover and shaker:

  • Once they roll in one direction, babies quickly learn to roll in both directions.
  • When your baby kicks her legs, "swims" with her arms, or rocks back and forth during tummy time, she's preparing herself to crawl.
  • Your baby can use her hands to bring objects to her mouth. She might even grab an ankle and taste her own toes!

Month 5, Week 2 Tips

  • Never place a pacifier on a cord or string around your baby's neck. That's a choking hazard.
  • If your baby uses a pacifier and has had several ear infections, phase it out to prevent additional ear problems.
  • When your baby begins eating solid food, he's more likely to get a diaper rash. Help prevent this by changing his diaper often.
  • Help your baby avoid scratches by cutting his nails weekly. If he resists, wait until he's asleep to trim those tiny fingernails and toenails.
  • To save money, accept friends' hand-me-down baby clothes, and tell people what items you need when they want to give a baby gift.
  • Test out the new-parent social life by dining in family-friendly restaurants, having baby playdates with friends, or trying dinner-and-a-movie night at home.
  • Your baby will be mobile soon! For safety's sake, drop the crib mattress to the lowest level. Child proof your home: have baby locks on all cabinets, remove dangling cords and plug outlets, and make sure you lock up all cleaning products.

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