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Should My Baby Use a Pacifier? Do they Suck?

If you’re considering having your baby use a pacifier, you might be wondering, how am I going to get of it, and when? Should my baby use a pacifier? Click through to learn the pros & cons of a pacifier and if it’s right for you and your baby. baby sleep tips | how to get your baby to sleep | parenting | newborn sleep #sleepbabylove #sleeptips #sleep #parenting #newmom #babysleep

If your are considering having your baby use a pacifier, you might be wondering: “How am I going to get rid of it”? And when???  Should my baby use a pacifier? Or maybe you are thinking that your kid might pack the pacifier to college based on how attached he is to it!  If you have those questions – this post is for you – so you can be informed on whether to use the paci or ditch it!

Here are some pros and cons for using a soother.

Pros of a pacifier:

  • AAP recommends use of a pacifier for the first 6 months of baby’s life to reduce the risk of SIDS
  • A pacifier can be a good way to soothe a fussy baby or allow a baby to fall asleep easily (since babies love to suck!)
  • You can’t get rid of the thumb – but you can the paci – so a pacifier may be better alternative to some families than a thumb sucker
  • According to this article, spit cleaned pacifiers actually help a baby’s immune system (“ewww” or “been there, done that” – not sure of my response!)

Cons of a pacifier:

  • Babies and toddlers can become attached to their pacifier which may result in a tough transition to get rid of it
  • A pacifier may limit a child’s natural ability to learn how to self-soothe (which may become evident in the toddler tantrum years)
  • A pacifier may prohibit the natural transfer of transitioning sleep cycles (and even though your child is sleeping through the night, you may be going into their room multiple times per night popping in a pacifier)
  • Prolonged use of the pacifier may result in teeth issues or speech delays

My Story : Before I had kids I thought I was not going to introduce a pacifier. I passed judgment (wrongfully) against those toddlers that I saw with pacifiers in their mouth walking around the mall.  But then, I had a beautiful girl and I introduced the pacifier in those early weeks of birth and used it more and more during the 4 Month Sleep Regression.  No worries, it would be gone by 6 months….and then by a year (but we didn’t)…..and for sure by age 2 (but then a new baby was going to be born)….. soooooo…. long story short, that’s why at the age of 3, my daughter was super attached to her pacifier! 

Things to consider:

  • At an early age (about 6 months), practice placing the pacifier in your child’s hand to learn how to put in it his mouth independently.
  • If you have many pacifiers in the crib, your child may be able to find one and pop it back into their mouth.
  • If you are going to be doing sleep training – I suggest getting rid of all sleep associations, including the beloved pacifier.  If you are going to keep it during any training or coaching, make sure that you don’t deviate from your sleep plan.  Your child will really benefit from learning how to self soothe without the need of the paci!
  • You can disassociate a pacifier from sleep but still use it during wakeful period.  (Of course there is a risk that your child may not be into it anymore which happened with my second daughter).
  • Keep those pacifiers clean and make sure to toss broken pacifiers that can be a danger to your child.  Yes, as much as you hate buying them, do a paci overhaul and don’t forget to increase the size as well – from newborn to toddler sizing.
  • Some children don’t become attached to their pacifier so many parents don’t sweat using it all!

How to get rid of the pacifier:

For young infants you are better off doing a cold-turkey approach.  Out of site out of mind!  Probably when your baby is younger than age 1 is the easiest.  When / if you are implementing a sleep training plan, you should consider getting rid of the paci then so you don’t need to do any re-training when you are trying to get rid of it down the road.

For toddlers greater than 1, you can look to replace the pacifier with another soothing object.  This is a great time to introduce a blanket, lovie or stuffed animal.  Have your child create the association with this object by using it for several weeks prior to taking the pacifier away.

For a child older than 18 months work on limiting  the pacifier use to the crib only.   If they are currently using it all day, explain that the paci will be used only bedtime and naptime.  Have your child help put the pacifier back in the crib when they wake up.

I have heard some very scary stories of the nap going away with the removal of a pacifier for a few 2.5 year olds.  Make sure that you continue to offer a quiet rest period, (preferably in their crib) if your toddler stops taking that nap or starts fighting you.  Don’t think that they are ready to give it up.  After a couple weeks, I would hope that the nap will come back or will be less of a struggle.

For children older than age 2, you can allow your child to give up the paci up on their own. Control is so important for these toddlers, so if the idea is theirs – it will make the process easier.

Here are some helpful ideas to peacefully say “bye bye” to the pacifier:

  • Have your child hand them over to a newborn baby.  Explain that pacis are for babys and your child is now a big boy!  A not-so-close friend is a good idea to do this to since your child won’t hold any resentment to the newborn baby.
  • Trade in the pacis for a special treat or toy at your child’s favorite toy store.  Literally have you child hand them to the cashier so they can’t get them back.
  • Periodically ask your child if they are ready to toss them since they are a big boy and when they say “yes”, act on it!  Actually have them throw them in the trash and say “goodbye” to them.

What worked for us:  Starting at age 2, we talked with my daughter that when we’re ready to say goodbye to pacis they go into an airplane (it worked for someone else we knew).  If you asked my daughter what was on an airplane she could say pacis.  So this went on for a long time and then we started changing our message to “At Age 3, your pacis will go on airplane”.  And then one day, shortly after her third birthday, we asked if she was ready for her pacis to go in the airplane and guess what…she said yes.  But actually she said that she wanted them to go on an helicopter with Cinderella – so that’s where they fictitiously went.  The pacis were relatively out of site and out of mind for her since she called the shots.  Her sleep is affected and to this day she has a hard time calming herself down once she gets worked up.  But…. I’m happy to report that she gets gleaming reviews from her dentist about her nice straight teeth with no long term pacifier effects! (that was a huge sigh of relief!)

My second daughter does not use a pacifier – but guess what? She sucks her thumb!  

So what are your thoughts on the paci?  Do they SUCK or are you a fan?  Should my baby use a pacifier?  That’s your call to make!  Do you have a clever way that you were able to get rid of the paci?  Was it easy or hard?  I’d love to hear from you!

Photo Credit:

Susie Parker is founder of Sleep Baby Love and a Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant through the Family Sleep Institute. When Susie's not ridding the world of sleepless families, she loves spending time with her two girls that have given her a ton of real world sleep experience head on.

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