In the first few months, new parents will try everything to get their adorable (but loud) little bundle to stop screaming. Bouncing? Check. Singing? You got it! Pacifier? Well…that’s a thornier issue. Whether you know it as a binky, paci, bam-bam or soothie, here are some things to consider before using one.

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pacifier baby

1. It could save your baby’s life

Let’s start with the biggie: The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends that parents consider offering a pacifier to babies one month and older to help reduce the risk of SIDS. (One study found that risk to be reduced by up to 90 percent.) Though researchers are still not entirely clear on why pacifiers are such life-savers, the reigning theory is that the handle sticks out, making it nearly impossible for an infant to suffocate himself.

2. But you might have to try several kinds until you find one you like

If you ask ten moms for a paci reco, you will get 10 different answers. (“You have to use the one with the toy on the end of it!” “Wait, my kid hated the one with the toy on the end of it.”) They make pacifiers in every shape, size and color, so you might have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince.

pacifier toddler

3. And your child may eventually need braces

Most kids will ditch the pacifier well before it causes any permanent damage to their teeth. But if you’re one of the lucky few whose child keeps the binky (or the thumb sucking) into kindergarten and beyond, you could end up shelling out for some serious orthodontia. Experts agree that if your kid is four and still sucking away, you should make an appointment with a pediatric dentist…and you know, try to take the pacifier away even if it causes World War III.

4. Or get sick more often

Again, the American Academy of Pediatrics is pretty clear on its stance: Pacifiers are not a health-risk and are actively encouraged in the first year of life. Other research, however, has shown a link between binky use and illness. One Finnish study, for instance, found that children who don’t use them have 33 percent fewer ear infections than those who do.

pacifier sleep

5. But you might get more sleep

There’s a reason that sucking is one of a newborn’s first inherent reflexes. Namely, it’s super-soothing and can help little ones (finally) get to sleep. In fact, Dr. Harvey Karp (of Happiest Baby fame) has a whole chapter dedicated to its merits. More sleep for baby, more sleep for Mama. Win, win.

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