Friday, February 3, 2012

Pacifier Use and Baby Behavior

A recent study conducted in Australia and published in January 2012 (Mauch 2012) explored the most common reasons why mothers use pacifiers. Guess what the reasons were? Many mothers reported that they used pacifiers to control their babies’ behaviors. There were a lot of other interesting findings in this study, so we will report them in 2 parts. Today’s post will focus on why moms use pacifiers and who advises moms to use them. Next time we’ll talk about how the use of pacifiers might (or might not) affect babies so moms can make informed decisions about when and how to use pacifiers.

A little bit about the study
670 first-time mothers of healthy, full-term infants in Australia completed a questionnaire about infant feeding and pacifier use. Babies were, on average, about 18 weeks old at the time questionnaires were completed by the mothers.

Pacifier Use
In this study, 8 out of 10 babies had used a pacifier and about 2 out of 3 mothers introduced a pacifier before 4 weeks of age. You may be wondering how this compares to other countries. In a separate study in the United States, 51% of infants were using pacifiers by 2 weeks postpartum, with another 17% beginning by 6-weeks. (Howard 1999) Pacifier use at 3 months of age also appears to be high in Dublin, Ireland (61%) and Italy (70%), with the lowest rates seen in Japan (13%) and China (23%). (Nelson 2005)

Advice about Pacifier Use
In the Australia study, many mothers, about 60%, received advice about pacifier use. The most common sources of advice were grandmothers or nurse/midwives and friends.

Top Reasons Mothers Use Pacifiers
Most mothers reported more than one reason for giving a pacifier. Here are the top 5 reasons mothers reported for giving their infants a pacifier.
1. To soothe baby when upset/irritable, or for other reasons (78%)
2. To help put baby to sleep (57%)
3. To keep baby comforted and quiet (40%)
4. Because it is natural for babies to suck (22%)
5. To prevent baby from sucking thumb (21%)

Next time: More about using pacifiers!

Mauch CE, Scott JA, Magarey AM, Daniels LA. Predictors of and reasons for pacifier use in first-time mothers: an observational study. BMC Pediatrics. 2012;12:7. [Epub ahead of print]

Howard CR, Howard FM, Lanphear B, deBlieck EA, Eberly S and Lawrence RA. The Effects of Early Pacifier Use on Breastfeeding Duration. Pediatrics. 1999;103;e33.

Nelson EAS, Yu Ly-Mee, Williams S and the International Child Care Practices Study Group Members. International Child Care Practices Study: Breastfeeding and Pacifier Use. J Hum Lact. 2005;21: 289.

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