Could Pacifiers be Detrimental to Development? by Rhiannon Parker

1 Dec
Psychologists are now saying that pacifiers could rob baby boys of the opportunity to experience facial expressions during their crucial infant years. Odd enough, this theory does not apply to baby girls. The World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics have already suggested limiting pacifiers use for both sexes because they are linked to causing ear infections and dental abnormalities. Psychologist say that humans often mirror expressions and body language of the people around them, by doing so, it can create some part of the feelings aw well. This tool is what helps us understand what others are feeling; its the reason for empathy. Mirroring is an essential tool for babies. For example, we can talk to babies and even though they don’t understand the words we are saying, they can infer through facial expression, tones, and body language what it is we are trying to communicate. However, if an infant has a pacifier in his mouth, he is less likely able to mimic those expressions and emotions.
A group of male, college students took a test on perspective-taking (a component of empathy). The students who reportedly had more pacifier use scored lower than their peers. In another study,  students took an emotional intelligence test that measured the way they make decisions based on identifying how others feel. Once again excessive pacifier use coincided with low scores. It has been proven that nighttime pacifier usage does not effect an individual since they are not exposed to others, therefore they do not need to mimic facial expressions. Although not all pacifier use is bad, the next step in this theory is to find out how much use is too much and also to find out at what age child should stop using a pacifier. Another great investigation would be to find out why girls are immune to excessive pacifier use. Could females compensate? Do they develop earlier or are they just better at reading others emotions even from infancy?
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