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Are you calming your child at the expense of her health?

By Vision Reporter

Added 22nd August 2010 03:00 AM

MARIA Okech, a first time mother, is troubled by her fussy two-month old child. “My baby cries all the time. Sometimes I am forced to strap him on my back while I do my domestic chores.” Okech says a friend advised her to use a pacifier, a rubber or latex tool that soothes an infant.

MARIA Okech, a first time mother, is troubled by her fussy two-month old child. “My baby cries all the time. Sometimes I am forced to strap him on my back while I do my domestic chores.” Okech says a friend advised her to use a pacifier, a rubber or latex tool that soothes an infant.

By Agnes Kyotalengerire

MARIA Okech, a first time mother, is troubled by her fussy two-month old child. “My baby cries all the time. Sometimes I am forced to strap him on my back while I do my domestic chores.” Okech says a friend advised her to use a pacifier, a rubber or latex tool that soothes an infant.

But Angelina Kakooza, a paediatrician at the Department of Paediatrics and Child Health Mulago Hospital, says though a pacifier calms an irritable child, it has its pitfalls.

Kakooza says: “Because a pacifier is hard, it confuses a baby. When a child feeds, it finds the breast flabby. Eventually, the baby may lose interest and abandon the breast,” Kakooza says. Some babies have trouble learning how to suckle if a pacifier is introduced too soon.

Although a pacifier prevents a baby from crying, a child may end up biting the teat of the pacifier when angry or irritated.

Similarly, when breastfeeding, such babies bite the mother’s nipple, causing sores. As a result, a mother fails to breastfeed, confusion a baby.

Pacifiers also cause teeth misalignment. The teat of the pacifier presses on the teeth, causing the top front teeth to slant outward or not develop fully. However, James Obua, a dentist at Angel Medical Centre in Bukoto, says the effect depends on how long the child uses the pacifier.

A pacifier can also be a source of infection. When it drops and is placed back without cleaning, it causes on infection.

Flora Kisembo, a senior midwife, says: “Babies cry to seek comfort, so when they find solace in sucking a soother, they forget about the mother.”

Kisembo says if a baby uses a pacifier to sleep, the mother encounters frequent crying spells when the pacifier falls out.

Once a baby gets used to a pacifier, weaning him off the soother becomes difficult. Even after stopping, a child develops unbecoming mannerisms such as sucking the tongue.

Tips for parents
Wait until breastfeeding is well established then introduce the pacifier.

It may take a few weeks to settle into a regular nursing routine. Introduce a pacifier at one month.

Do not use a pacifier as a first line of defence. Sometimes a change of position, rocking or feeding can calm a crying baby.

Choose a one-piece, dishwasher-safe pacifier. Two-piece pacifiers can a choke the baby if they break.

Once you have settled on a pacifier, keep a few identical backups.

Let your baby set the pace. If your baby is not interested in a pacifier, keep trying or give up.

Wash a pacifier with soap and water and allow it to dry.

Replace pacifiers often. A cracked one can tear off and pose a choking hazard.

Never use a string long enough to get caught around your baby’s neck.

Are you calming your child at the expense of her health?

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