Does offering a baby a pacifier at bedtime help reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)? Yes, according to updated guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Using a pacifier may prevent the baby from sleeping too deeply, which could increase the risk of SIDS in a susceptible infant.
The guidelines advise delaying pacifier use in a breast-fed infant until she's 1 month old, after breast-feeding is firmly established. A baby who rejects a pacifier shouldn't be forced to use it. Pacifier use should end at 12 months because continued use can increase the risk of ear infections and misalignment of teeth.
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The previous 2000 SIDS guidelines said putting infants to sleep on their sides was acceptable, although placing them on their backs was preferred. The new guidelines recommend placing babies only on their backs because a side-sleeper might roll onto her stomach.
For the full updated guidelines, visit the Academy's Web site at http://www.aap.org.
Do pacifiers reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome? A meta-analysis, Pediatrics, F Hauck, et al., November 5, 2005.