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Pacifiers Don't Necessarily Cause Early Weaning


"Breastfed babies have less allergies, less infectious disease such as ear infections, diarrhea, respiratory problems, less likely to be obese as children," she says. "Breastfeeding is also a benefit for the health of mothers. Their weight returns to normal sooner and some research suggests moms who breastfeed are less likely to develop breast or other cancers."

The bottom line, she says, is that pacifiers "won't enhance anything."

Yet other experts tell WebMD pacifiers won't do any harm so if they comfort your child, its OK to let them use one.

"I encourage parents to let kids suck a thumb or pacifier if the kid is interested in that," says Alan Greene, MD, assistant professor of pediatrics at Stanford University.

And that's good news for moms, because if you check out WebMD's parenting message boards, it becomes quickly apparent that many mothers are very pro-pacifier.

Still, Greene says he teaches parents early on to try out various methods of soothing to see what their newborn responds to whether it be rocking, singing, swaddling, or whispering.

"I go on at length about the benefits of breastfeeding and how healthy and helpful breast milk is for kids, but I also explain to them that all kids are built with a need for non-nutritive sucking," he says.

"I have never seen people who are motivated to breastfeed where it stops because of pacifier use," Greene says.

Kenneth Cohen, MD, a pediatrician at South Florida Pediatric Partners in Pembroke Pines, says he is neutral on the whole pacifier issue.

"I usually tell parents not to introduce a pacifier during the first month and after that babies will get an idea about nutritive nipples and non-nutritive nipples," he says. But if a child is still sucking on a pacifier at age 2, it's time to start cutting back on it's use.

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