Pacifiers: the Good, Bad, How and When to Wean
Pacifiers are one of those things that are either a mom’s best friend or viewed as a great big no-no. So what gives? Is a pacifier a good thing or a bad thing?
Learn about how and when to wean your little ones from pacifiers. An experienced mum tells all in this article.
Babies tend to either love their pacifier or completely refuse one; there seems to be no middle ground. This fondness (or not) also seems to be something they decide on their own. I’ve seen very few (if any) babies who can be coerced into taking a pacifier. But if you have a baby who loves it, don’t worry. Pacifiers aren’t bad.
Pros of the pacifier
Aside from the obvious benefit of being able to soothe a fussy baby, there is evidence to show that babies who sleep with pacifiers are less apt to stop breathing while they sleep; possibly saving them from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
The sucking motions help keep their nasal passages and mouth open which enables them to keep breathing. Pacifiers are also more orthodontia-friendly than sucking on their fingers or other objects.
Cons of the pacifier
While no one disputes the value of a baby being able to self-soothe, some babies may sleep less soundly if they go to sleep with a pacifier. The reason? Losing it in their sleep may cause them to wake up.
Paediatricians also recommend not giving a pacifier to breastfed babies for the first month to avoid the possible problem of the baby satisfying their need to suck and problems with latching on – resulting in poor nursing and reduced milk supply (because of poor nursing).
So which pacifier is best for a baby? There are so many out there how is a mum to know which is really the best one to buy?
Experts agree that nursing babies are better off with a pacifier that doesn’t have an angled nipple. Using a straight nipple will help save the confusion of knowing how to latch on to the breast vs. the pacifier and vice-versa.
NOTE: These same experts also encourage breast-feeding mums to use a pacifier as little as possible during the first month to assure the baby is nursing efficiently and adequately.
It is also advisable to select a pacifier sized for your baby. The nipples on newborn pacifiers are smaller than those for older infants. Buy accordingly.
Buy two or three different styles or brands of pacifiers. If the first one you offer your baby doesn’t seem to satisfy, you can try another. Finding the right one may take a while, but having just the right pacifier to soothe your baby is definitely worth the ‘trouble’.
Even more difficult than deciding to use a pacifier and which pacifier to use is the question of when to wean your little one from their pacifier.
The ‘right’ age depends on who you ask, but the overwhelming majority of mums choose 2 as the magic age of ‘pacifier weaning’. This stems from several reasons including the social stigma that is often associated with using a pacifier past age 2 and the fact that their teeth and jaws are ‘settling in’ at this point.
Other mums insist that the right age to wean is before baby’s first birthday when the switch is usually made from bottle or breast to a cup. Their argument for this is that at this point, the sucking reflex (or need to suck) is gone.
Six months…age one…age two…or even later…the choice is up to you.
Pacifier is MIA
How to get rid of a pacifier isn’t a question with one definitive answer. Like which pacifier to use and when to take it away, the answer to how is up to you. But creatively always works well…
Have your toddler place their pacifier under their pillow for the ‘paci-fairy’ to take; leaving a small gift in its place
Pack them up and ‘mail’ them to babies who need them
Trash them while your toddler is sleeping and go ‘cold turkey’