Infants instinctively learn how to suck before they are even born and many begin learning the comfort of sucking on a thumb or finger while still in the womb. This ability allows the infant to begin nursing soon after birth, providing both nourishment and comfort and playing a large role in the bonding of the mother and baby. But nursing alone will not always satisfy the baby's need to suck for comfort and mothers have universally used a surrogate to satisfy that need to suck, ranging from ancient soothers made from stone, cloth and wood to the modern pliant instruments of rubber or silicone that is used today as a dummy, pacifier, comforter or binky.
When to use a soother for your baby
Doctors generally agree that until the infant has learned to latch on to the breast and has reached the first weight milestone, proving milk production is established and the baby is receiving enough milk, a soother should not be used. This is because they kind of sucking action required for nursing varies from sucking on a soother and the infant may get confused between the two if the soother is used too early. After the initial four to six weeks the infants need for additional comfort and security will become apparent and offering a soft silicone soother for the baby to suck on, especially if they are restless due to tiredness, may help the infant relax and sleep easier and possibly reduce the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) by keeping the mouth clear of bedding.
Using a teat specially designed to allow air to enter, such as the MAM night soother, will ensure it stays soft once the baby latches on and they will be able to self-sooth at any time in the day. Keep in mind that some babies never take to a soother so if they spit it out after a few tries you may need to look for another alternative to soothing a cranky baby. Mothers should be careful to never use the soother to replace feeding times and always ensure any other infant needs are met before giving a soother to a baby. Removing the soother from the daily routine once the child becomes a toddler is usually received well and doctors agree that a binky habit is easier to break than thumb sucking or other forms of self-soothing.
Types of soothers available
Pacifiers are available in many shapes and S1, S2, S3 and S4 sizes. Each increase in number relates to a larger teat for a higher age group. The soft soothers made from natural latex may be easier for fussy babies to use but silicone soothers are more durable. Soothers should be regularly checked for cracks and once the baby begins teething ensure that they do not bite off pieces of the teat. Tommee Tippee's cherry-shaped teats are a good first choice as they closely resemble a nipple and are flatter on one side so that the baby can latch on easier. Avent soothers are BPA Free and heat proof so that they can be properly sterilised each day and when not in use they can be covered with a protective cap to avoid germs. NUK offers modern designs which have been approved by orthodontists for toddlers and Nursery ages so that it will not hinder the development or alignment of the teeth.