- Babies' need to suck: an innate reflex
- The thousand and one benefits of breastfeeding
- Breast, pacifier or pacifier, thumb or cuddly toy: soothe the need for sucking
- Our advice for managing your baby's need to suck
- The physiological pacifier: how to choose a pacifier for your baby?
- Sucking disorders: how to recognize them?
Babies' need to suck: an innate reflex
At the time of the ultrasound, it's sometimes the big surprise: baby is sucking his thumb! A prenatal reflex which will be refined throughout the pregnancy to reach its peak at birth. It is also thanks to it that your child can take his first breastfeed.
It is then a question of nutritious sucking that baby uses to feed himself and during which he is concentrated, sucking the breast milk for a long time and swallowing between each sucking.
At the same time, non-nutritive sucking at the breast, with a bottle, with a comforter or pacifier, is faster and involves long pauses. Here it is not a question of hunger, but of comfort.
Recognize the need for sucking
But then, how can we differentiate hunger from the need for comfort ? If it's past meal time (even just a little) or if it's approaching and your baby is hungry , there's a good chance he or she will start crying. You may also be able to recognize his mouth movements and attempts to suck on his blanket, his fingers or his entire fist, without being able to calm down.
The need for comfort can be marked by a child who is rather agitated, who has difficulty falling asleep, who gets upset or who turns his head in all directions. If he gets upset, he calms down automatically and very quickly.
Take the test yourself! When in doubt, if it's not yet meal time and his diapers are clean, give your baby your little finger to suck on. If he doesn't calm down, you can prepare his milk meal.
The thousand and one benefits of breastfeeding
Innate reflex (or archaic reflex) associated with grasping reflexes, cardinal points, Moro reflexes, automatic walking, cross extension and head holding) the sucking reflex plays many roles in your baby's life .
- Feeding : above all, breastfeeding allows your child to drink his milk, maternal or infant, given at the breast or in a bottle.
- Regulate milk production : by suckling from your breast, baby stimulates and modulates your milk production according to his needs and appetite.
- Soothe : Sucking provides a feeling of soothing and calm that consoles or relieves your little one depending on their needs.
- Manage stress and pain : sucking releases endorphins. A relaxation and sleep hormone, it also has an analgesic effect that is particularly useful during medical examinations, for example.
- Interact : each time you breastfeed, if baby stops sucking, you change breasts. This is a first form of exchange for him, often accompanied by looks and little sounds (so cute!).
- Growing up : sucking plays a significant reassuring role in the child's psycho-affective development.
- Develop the palate : perinatal osteopathy teaches us that the pressure exerted by the tongue on the palate (during feedings and at rest) helps to establish it through the movement of the cranial bones that compose it.
- Develop the jaw muscles : sucking works all the muscles of the face to, in part, shape its shape.
- Finally, sucking forces baby to breathe through his nose : the best way for him (and everyone) to oxygenate his brain.
Breast, pacifier or pacifier, thumb or cuddly toy: soothe the need for sucking
Over the weeks and months, the sucking reflex evolves into a need, as your child understands that it comforts him. It is often during this period that he adopts his cuddly toy, his thumb or a pacifier to accompany him.
On the parents' side, the great relief of having found a remedy for their babies' crying and discomfort quickly gives way to questions about its advantages and disadvantages.
The thumb, impossible to misplace
A real asset, especially appreciated at night. If you wake up , your little one doesn't need anyone to go back to sleep , they find their thumb very easily. However, when the time comes to stop breastfeeding, it's a different story. Because if the main advantage of the thumb is that it is impossible to lose, this is also its first disadvantage.
Specialists also blame it for greater orthodontic deformation, mainly in children who suck their thumbs for a long time.
The breast, difficult to refuse
Breastfed babies tend to mix nutritious feedings and comfort feedings , by latching on. If these moments are often imbued with sweetness and magic , it is not always easy to tell the difference between the two and even less to refuse the breast or to remove the baby from the breast because you have the impression that he does not head not effectively.
For this reason, many mothers choose to give their child a pacifier, or pacifier or pacifier.
The pacifier, easier to stop
Unlike the thumb, the pacifier is easier (and above all physically possible) to give up , even when we know how much babies love their pacifier. Interchangeable for hygiene and practicality, it may however be lost while walking or misplaced at night . This is often why, as parents, we have a veritable collection.
More flexible than the thumb and more profiled (we speak of an anatomical or physiological pacifier), the pacifier finally has a reduced impact on the oral and dental development of babies.
The cuddly toy and its emotionality
Finally, the cuddly toy, a transitional object par excellence , accompanies children during moments of separation from their parents . It therefore happens that it more or less temporarily takes the place of the pacifier (what stuffed rabbit has never seen its ears touched?), but also that the pacifier transforms into a cuddly toy with babies who use the breast shield to rub your nose and soothe yourself.
Our advice for managing your baby's need to suck
Doctors and pediatricians recommend reserving the use of the pacifier during sleep (at night and during naps). But, most children also look for it when they are tired , sick or if they have hurt themselves . In short, when the need for comfort is at its maximum. There are also babies who need to breastfeed “all the time” and babies who only fall asleep at the breast . However, certain habits should be avoided:
- give the pacifier instead of meals (or during),
- dip the lollipop in jam, honey or sugar to make it more appetizing,
- leave the pacifier available without limits.
However, in the first weeks and even during the first months, do not feel guilty about giving your baby the breast, pacifier or little finger . If, outside of meals, he asks for a breastfeed, it is because he needs it to soothe himself, calm down, reassure himself or fall asleep. Gradually, as he grows, he will eventually regulate himself like an adult.
Pacifier and breastfeeding, a duo to avoid?
On this point, opinions differ. While some doctors recommend not using a pacifier alongside breastfeeding to avoid any risk of confusion , various studies show that, in healthy full-term babies, the introduction of the pacifier has no impact. particular .
The general recommendation, however, in the United States, but also in Denmark, is that pacifiers should only be offered once breastfeeding is well established .
The physiological pacifier: how to choose a pacifier for your baby?
Because once adopted, a pacifier is difficult to change, here are some tips for choosing it without making a mistake.
- For comfort and ergonomics, choose a pacifier adapted to the age of your child , which you will change at each level (from birth to 2 months, from 2 months to 6 months, 6 months and more, etc.).
- Opt for an extra-soft physiological pacifier designed to adapt to the palate and respect the correct positioning of the teeth when they begin to grow.
- The pacifier must always allow the baby to close his mouth.
- Also check the composition of the pacifier and breast shield to favor the healthiest materials . This is for example the case of medical silicone or natural rubber.
- Finally, the shape of the shield is also important to avoid any pressure on the mouth and to let the skin, often wet with drool in this area, breathe.
- Of course, for fun it is also recommended to choose your baby's pacifier based on its unique design !
Do you know ? As it is no longer recommended to sterilize baby bottles each time they are used, it is no longer recommended to sterilize pacifiers. Wash them yes, rinse them too, but for your child's immune system to develop, good hygiene is sufficient. At the same time, note not to forget the pacifier in the sun, not to freeze it or put it in the dishwasher to avoid damaged pacifiers!
Sucking disorders: how to recognize them?
The sucking reflex allows your baby to feed from your breast or from his bottle. However, certain disorders can complicate his life and yours too. Here's how to try to recognize them.
Feedings are long , more complicated, sometimes anarchic and above all unsatisfactory for you and for your child. Symptoms such as refusing the bottle or breast , leaking milk , aspiration , GERD or increased fussiness during meals can alert you.
When breastfeeding, you may feel breast pain, see cracks appear or experience significant engorgement.
Consulting your pediatrician can help you identify the cause of this sucking disorder (mechanical, functional or sensory) and find its origin in a tongue tie that is too short, a narrow jaw or even the prematurity of your baby.
When to stop using the thumb or pacifier?
Ideally, health professionals recommend stopping the pacifier between two and three years of age, to preserve the good oral and dental development of children. In general, entry into nursery school coincides with a gradual loss of interest in the pacifier. However, if you feel your child is struggling with this big step, do not hesitate to encourage him, tell him that adults do not have a pacifier and install a small pacifier box in the house to place him in. , very safe.
- The sucking reflex is present from birth. Over the months, it transforms into a need for sucking used by babies to soothe and reassure themselves.
- Sucking allows your child to feed himself, stimulate lactation if he is breastfed, calm down or even fall asleep.
- To choose the right baby pacifier, take into account its size, shape and the materials it is made of.
- Sucking disorders, when they exist, can manifest themselves by refusal of the breast or bottle, crying, aspiration or the appearance of GERD in the baby.
- There is no age to stop sucking your thumb or pacifier. Each parent must support their child in this process while avoiding exceeding the 3-year mark.