The very first contact a newborn has with the mother’s bacteria is via the passage through the birth canal. The infant’s next contact with bacteria is through breastmilk. Researchers in Sweden have studied a novel, low tech method of introducing your own bacteria to your baby.
Babies Have a Suckling Instinct
Whether you call it a pacifier, binky, nooky, nuk, tippy, plug, etc. It’s still the oldest form of quieting a baby.
Babies love to suckle. It makes them calm and content — so much so, that many sonograms capture the baby sucking their thumb!
Most parents find that a pacifier works wonders to sooth an agitated baby. Several studies have shown that pacifier sucking may prevent SIDS, possibly by keeping the nose free of bedding and helping to keep the infant airways open.
The Argument Against Pacifiers
Some folks are against pacifiers because they claim it causes nipple confusion. Then there are the concerns about how it affects the developing teeth and jaw bone. One pediatric dentist has said,
Pacifiers can harm a child’s normal growth and development causing the upper arch to be too narrow and the lower jaw joint to develop incorrectly.
Hmm, that sounds similar to what Dr. Weston Price said about foods of modern commerce. But let’s not get off topic here.
There are also the potential problems with ear infections that come from a buildup of pressure in the middle ear from all that sucking.
I never found any of that. My newborn son was miserable until I found the pacifier that could stay in his mouth. I had a bag full of pacifiers that didn’t work for him. When I found the right one, he was the happiest baby around — no ear infections, no buck teeth and no nipple confusion.
Good for More Than One Thing
Pacifiers are good for more than just keeping a baby content. They can be used to transfer the parents’ microbes to baby by simply being sucked on by the parent.
This study published in Pediatrics May 6, 2013 found that babies benefit from transfer of the parents’ oral bacteria by having less potential for allergies, asthma and eczema.
The researchers found that children whose parents sucked their pacifiers to clean them before giving them to the children were less likely to have asthma, eczema and sensitization to potential allergens at 18 months of age than children whose parents did not suck the pacifiers. The protective effect against eczema remained at age 36 months.
Beneficial Bacteria is Protective
Of course, if you want to provide your baby with good bacteria, the best thing to do is to eat a lot of cultured foods so that your body fluids are abundant with microbes. Then suck on the pacifier and give it to your child.
If the child is born via cesarean section, the child will pick up bacteria from the primary care giver — another good reason to start enjoying your baby’s pacifier and passing it on!
Advice of Good Binky Practices
You wouldn’t use the same dirty fork meal after meal and day after day, so wash your baby’s pacifiers often to avoid bacteria build-up.
I guess you could amend that to say, put the binky in your own mouth, suck for a while and then transfer it to baby for microbial benefits. Of course, common sense should prevail here. It should be cleaned under running water — and then suck on it and transfer to baby!
Don’t Be Afraid of Germs
Babies are exposed to a great many new bacteria on a daily basis. They need that exposure in order to develop their immune systems. In our modern society, we are too clean!
I remember seeing some moms clean their child’s pacifier by sucking on it and thinking it was gross. Now, I reconsider.
What about you? What do you think about this? Have you enjoyed your baby’s pacifier?