Pacifier: To use or not to use?

The thought of my child still sucking on a pacifier at 4 years old was enough for me to never want to use one. That is until my DS just wouldn’t settle down one night to go to sleep. So I, like many mothers before me (and many more to come), caved in and allow my DS to use a pacifier.

So what are the pros:

  • The most obvious one, less crying.
  • Pacifier use has been linked to a decrease in SIDS.
  • When its time to stop using it, I don’t have to worry about chopping off a finger or a thumb
  • It helps establish a ritual (we only use the paci for nap time and bed time)

The cons:

  • In the beginning, learning when to and not to replace the paci when it falls out is tiring… especially in the middle of the night.
  • Regular pacifier use can increase ear infections (although the risk is lowest from birth to 6 months)

For me, the pros outweigh the cons. And for my husband, the one and only reason to use the pacifier is it helps keep our child calm and relaxed when its time to go to sleep. We both have the tendency to over do it with our child so he’s exhausted by the time he’s ready to sleep. The paci helps calm him down.

Sucking is a natural reflex that babies are born with. In fact, it is crucial for their survival. All babies start sucking when they’re in the womb. Sucking has a calming effect on infants because it reminds them of being in the womb – all safe, comfy and cozy. So if the AAP (American Association of Pediatrics) and the ADA (American Dental Association) encourage it, who am I to argue?

But we do have a few guidelines in place:

  1. We did not introduce the pacifier to him until he was 6 weeks (actually our LO was 5 weeks and 5 days) in order to make sure that breastfeeding was well established.
  2. The paci is only offered when our LO is really tired and crying. If he is drowsy and calm, we put him down without it.
  3. It is only to be used for nap time or bed time (although I think my DH might ignore this rule when I’m not around and our DS is screaming).
  4. If the paci falls out, we do not rush to put it back in. 80% of the time our DS will just drift off to sleep without it.
  5. We don’t force the paci in the mouth.
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