by Fudia Muhammad
For a first-time young mother, the cries of her newborn can stir a range of emotions. She may experience moments of excitement followed by stress; happiness coupled with anxiety; elation deflated by a nagging concern, “Will I be able to interpret my baby’s cry?” The role of a mother is extraordinary and those new to motherhood can easily be overwhelmed. Motherhood can be an emotional rollercoaster for all new moms; but some are just better at managing it than others. One thing a new mother knows for certain– a crying baby means something is wrong! Therefore, she may believe that a pacifier is the best invention ever known to man since it appears to satisfy the baby and buys her some time.
Unfortunately, the momentary comfort and peace of mind gained by the use of a pacifier pales in comparison to its lengthy drawbacks and potential health risks.These negatives can be exacerbated by a mother who lacks experience as well as discipline; andoveruses the pacifier. The baby’s cry is instinctive and it forces the mother to respond. The sound and intensity of the cry will determine the speed of her response. The misuse of a pacifier can interfere with a mother’s ability to decipher and interpret the specific needs of her baby, if she is quick to reach for it at the first whimper.
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan has taught on the universality of a baby’s cry and how the cry is evidence that we are all born with faith. A baby’s cry is a prayer. It is an indication of the baby’s innate faith at birth. The baby cries because he has faith that his cry will be answered. When the mother answers the cry (prayer) of her baby by feeding him, changing him, holding him, burping him or soothing him to sleep, his faith is rewarded and strengthened by heractions. This is proof that mothers are God’s representatives in the lives of their young children. As children mature, they eventually grow to no longer cry for mommy; butinstead pray to Allah (God) for aid.
In England and Australia, a baby’s pacifier is commonly referred to as a “dummy.” In the United States a dummy refers to a mannequin or human-like doll. It is also an offensive term used to convey that someone is stupid. But the root word ‘dumb,’ was commonly used to refer to someone who is mute or cannot speak; unable to communicate verbally. So the “dummy” or pacifier is given to stop the baby from crying; which is his way of communicating his needs to the mother or caretaker. So, why would we want to render our babies dumb, mute or even pacify them?
Allah (God) does not silence us when we call on Him. In fact, it is His nature to respond. The Holy Qur’an reads, “And when My servants ask thee concerning Me, surely I am nigh. I answer the prayer of the suppliant when he calls on Me, so they should hear My call and believe in Me that they may walk in the right way” (2: 186). He wants us to know He answered our prayer, so that our faith in Him may be strengthened, which will encourage us to continue on the right path. Allah (God) declares that He cares for those of us who pray to Him.
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan said, “Babies have a bigger faith sometimes than grown-ups.”As God’s representative in the lives of our babies, we should never allow the cry of a baby to go unanswered. We should also not get in the habit of silencing their cries without addressing their specific need. Babies do not have the competence to deceive or connive. They cry because a need is not being met and we are obligated to satisfy it. You cannot spoil an infant, so we should never reject a baby’s attempt to be comforted. In extreme cases of abandonment, studies have shown that babies whose cries go unanswered, eventually stop crying. Faith unrewarded leads to disbelief. We want our children to grow in faith, not grow out of faith.
We must also consider that pacifiers can pose potential health risks for our babies. Pacifiers are made out of latex, silicone, plastic or rubber. Synthetic latex pacifiers can contain nitrosamines, a known carcinogen. Silicone pacifiers often use chemical softeners; and both silicone and plastic pacifiers often use colorants. Even 100% natural rubber pacifiers can contain carcinogenic chemical compounds if they have not been baked in a special oven for days and thoroughly washed multiple times, then sealed. If a pacifier must be used, do it sparingly, but first do your homework. Be sure they are free of Bisphenol-A (BPA), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), phthalates, parabens, allergens, artificial colors, endocrine disruptors, chemical softeners, and carcinogens.
While there is some debate about the potential for a breastfeeding baby to suffer from nipple confusion if a pacifier is introduced, there is no doubt that introducing a pacifier too early can affect the mother’s milk supply. The more the baby nurses, the more the mother’s milk supply increases. If the baby is offered the pacifier too often, the mother will be inadequately stimulated and will not produce as much milk; thereby making breastfeeding difficult.
Additional issues may develop if pacifiers are used extensively into toddlerhood. They can increase the risk of ear infections because the continuous sucking and swallowing motion changes pressure behind the ear, which leads to fluid build-up in the middle ear. Pacifier overuse can also lead to serious dental issues, thrush, facial rashes, gas and delayed or distorted speech.
The Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad stated that the reason we have such a great percentage of delinquency among minors is because our children are not fed from their mother’s breasts. He also wrote, “A baby nursed from its mother’s breast will love its mother more than the baby fed from the bottle. He loves the bottle.” The baby’s attachment and longing should be for its mother, not for a bottle, a toy or a pacifier. The baby’s brain is still developing during infancy and toddlerhood at a rapid rate – we should take advantage of this time by securing his connection and bond to human life and not to things. Otherwise, he may grow up to have more love for material objects than for humanity.
Parents who know they are not disciplined, should not even buy a pacifier. We may convince ourselves that we will only use it occasionally, but it is terribly habit-forming for the parents and the baby. If we have one available, we will use it and when most parents use it once, they will use it a hundred times. Pacifier woes can be agonizing and unforgiving. I’d take the cries of a baby over the tantrums of a toddler any day!
(Sister Fudia Muhammad is a member of Muhammad Mosque No. 64 in Austin, Texas. She is married to Student Minister Robert L. Muhammad and they have been blessed with four children. Sister Fudia holds a Master’s degree in Education – she is a writer, an educator and an advocate for God-centered child-rearing.)