Pacifier Or Not?

Before I had children, I swore my child would never use a pacifier. To me, they were simply signs that a child was just not very well taken care of. You know, Mom doesn’t want to pick the baby up and comfort her, so she just puts a pacifier in her mouth to quiet her. But, I’m older now, and I have three children, so I’m wiser too. There definitely are times when a pacifier is a huge help – not just a crutch for Mom.

As it turns out, some newborns just have a greater urge to suckle than others. If your baby is like this, a pacifier is almost a necessity. For these babies, the suckling they get from nursing or taking a bottle is simply not enough. My daughter was one of these babies, and unless she fell asleep while nursing or taking a bottle, that pacifier was critical to getting her to sleep.

Other children simply don’t need this extra suckling, and, for these children, a pacifier is usually not necessary. Occasionally sucking their thumb or fist is satisfying enough for them. Watch your child in those first few days, and make the decision based on your baby’s behavior. One caution, however; if your baby is nursing, you should avoid the pacifier until your baby’s nursing habits are fully established. A pacifier can cause nipple confusion in babies who are struggling with breastfeeding.

The problem with pacifiers isn’t really the use of the pacifier itself, rather overuse, or use of it long past a normal age. Pacifier use can cause serious dental issues, and should be used only for the required amount of time. Plus, the older your child gets, the harder it will be for you to keep it clean. Also, if your child relies on a pacifier to fall asleep, you will be required to retrieve it for him multiple times during the night, when he is unable to locate it on his own.

If your child uses a pacifier, look for the natural opportunities that will arise for giving it up, and seize them. For example, my daughter caught a bad cold at about six months old, and wouldn’t use the pacifier; because she was so congested she could hardly breathe. As soon as she started to refuse it because of the cold, I put it out of sight. Once her cold was over, she had forgotten about it. My middle son held on to his a little longer, but at about thirteen months, I noticed that just before he fell asleep at night, he would toss the pacifier out of his crib. So, one night, I picked it up off the floor, and put it away. Same ending – he never noticed it was gone.

If your child needs it, a pacifier can be a great comforter, and can make life easier for you, too. Just be sure not to let it go on for too long, or you and the baby can become dependent!

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