New Study: A Novel Method of Transferring Bacteria to Your Child

New Study: A Novel Method of Transferring Bacteria to Your Child post image

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

One piece of advice is

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?

This post is shared at: Barnyard Hop,Traditional Tuesday, Hearth & Soul Hop

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Leave a Comment

  • Kevin May 10, 2013, 12:17 am

    Really interesting post, I would have never of thought of that. Our son started losing interest in his pacifier at about 9 months and we avoided giving it to him again, more out of fear of him being rather fond of it and eventually having to take it away from him later on.

    The topic of germs and all that is really of high interest to me because our son was born premature. His lungs were really underdeveloped and the hospital had a lot of recommendations to keep him healthy, since a minor bug could result in him being re-hospitalized. This obviously was a big concern, but I’ve also been of the mindset that germs are good… we limited his exposure though, and he seems to be doing pretty good now. He’s had a few small colds and had no problems… in a few months he starts daycare though, so that should be interesting :\.

    • Jill May 10, 2013, 8:07 pm

      Hi Kevin,
      Day care will be challenging. The idea is to get lots of “germ” exposure that doesn’t necessarily make you sick — but makes the immune system stronger.

  • Elizabeth Casey May 10, 2013, 5:46 pm

    Great article, Jill. I’m passing it on to all the new and expectant mothers that I know.

  • Marie May 10, 2013, 9:05 pm

    Very interesting article. I’m currently reading the “Oil Pulling Therapy” book and Dr. Bruce Fife was mentioning that the most troublesome bacteria in our mouth is the Streptococcus mutans. That’s the bacteria causing cavity and feeding on carbohydrates. So, I was wondering if this is the primary cause of transmission of that bacteria to our children, we better be careful with the health of our mouth and gut before we start sharing our oral bacteria with our kids.

    • Lauren May 13, 2013, 11:07 am

      That was my first thought too, Marie.
      There’s a YouTube video of Dr. Campbell-McBride with Donna Gates where they recommend coconut water kefir on the nipple before feedings – a good dunk of the dummy would work too.

  • Courtney May 14, 2013, 10:24 am

    Love this article! My 3 month old daughter’s binky was a lifesaver. She would do nothing but suck on my finger 24/7 and it made it impossible to get anything done. She decided she liked the pacifier and I was suddenly hands free to get other stuff done. I always felt guilty about it, like I was hurting her by giving it to her, but this makes me feel better about it!

  • Heather Kallimani May 16, 2013, 9:19 am

    I loved this post when I read it! I used to put my kids’ pacifiers in my mouth after they dropped it on the ground, and then give it to them. People would always tell me how gross that was but I never believed it. You have now proven me right! Thank you for that! 🙂

  • Sally May 16, 2013, 2:23 pm

    really love most of your articles w/the exception of this one. It is irresponsible to suggest and encourage the use of pacifiers!! Please read the late Dr. Brian Palmer’s work. Yes, babies like to suck-non nutritive sucking is comforting and soothing for them. Also, the need to suck can also be a way for a baby to self adjust the palate from a structural imbalance caused by a tongue tie, high palate or birth trauma etc. Addressing the need and desire to suckle is NOT through the use of pacifiers!! Babies can get bacteria from mom via birth, breastfeeding, skin to skin contact, mother kissing baby…Please do further research.

    • Jill May 16, 2013, 3:09 pm

      @ Sally,
      The use of pacifiers seems to be a controversial issue. Having been out of he “baby scene” for quite a few years I am unaware of all the issues. So, how do you address the need to suckle if not with a pacifier?