When I was pregnant with Little-I had no idea what to pack in my hospital bag. So, I hit up Pinterest. And in a lot of the advice I found, it was recommended to pack a newborn size pacifier, if you chose to want to offer one to your child. After chatting about it with the hubby, we decided we were ok with it-and in the bag it went.
We gave it to him while still in the hospital-and he took to it right away. After having one particularly rude nurse literally pull it from his mouth and scold me for it, we didn’t hear much either way about it.
Despite what a lot of people will say, there actually are some benefits to your little using a soother-as long as it doesn’t become a dependency. I’ll lay out for you some of the pros, the cons, and the myths behind soother use-and how you can break your little’s habit of it when they and you, are ready for it.
- Some studies have shown that infants who use a pacifier are at a much lower risk of SIDS. Some reasoning behind that is that it can help a child improve their arousability if faced with this life threatening challenge. It also can help keep the oral airway open by keeping the tongue forward.
- Sucking is a natural urge for any infant. Some babes are fine just having it occasionally while feeding, but others may have a stronger urge/need for it. Offering a pacifier can help calm the urge, and also encourage self soothing. Sucking also releases a chemical to the brain that can help relieve a child’s stress.
- Removing a soother is a much easier habit to crack then thumb sucking or finger chewing.
- If you are able to breastfeed, pacifier use can interfere. It can reduce the need for a baby to suckle, therefore potentially causing milk supply to start dwindling. You can help prevent this by waiting 4-6 weeks until introducing the soother so that baby establishes a good feeding routine.
- Pacifier use can be associated with a potentially higher risk of ear infections.
- The soother may become a child’s only source of comfort. To prevent this from happening, try your best to offer other forms or tools for comforting as well-like cuddles, or a special stuffed toy.
Myths ( or old wives tales that don’t have 100% truth)
- While prolonged pacifier use can cause problems with proper development of the mouth, tooth alignment and the formation of the roof of your child’s mouth-there are ways to avoid this. It should only be offered at bed time while the child is falling asleep, or for short periods of time during the day if needed. If the child has it in their mouth 24/7, that’s when you’re going to start noticing problems. Also, be sure to only use pacifiers with symmetrical nipples that correspond with your child’s age so that it sits in the correct position in their mouth.
- Pacifiers will not affect the way your child speaks-as long as you encourage them to remove it from their mouth while talking. If your child develops the habit of chattering with the soother in their mouth, you may start noticing lisps and slurring.
- It’s recommended that children stop using a pacifier at one. It is best, but if you were to use it occasionally slightly past one, your child should still be ok. I was told by my dentist and doctor that the problems begin when a child’s palate begins to harden, which is closer to four. Prolonged soother use closer to this age can cause teeth to be pushed forward and potential bite problems as their jaw will develop and form over anything held inside. So, while it could be ok to use past one, understand the risks, and try to begin weaning around one if possible. There really is no right/wrong answer.
Suggestions on how to break the habit
- Praise and encouragement work wonders with littles. Make a big deal out of the times when they are able to go without-create a star chart, or let them earn a reward.
- Don’t ever scold or punish your child for using the pacifier while trying to break the habit-this could encourage them to use it to cope with being reprimanded.
- Let them “trade” in their binky for a new toy or book, or chocolate treat.
- Tough it out. Go cold turkey. You may have to endure a few nights or episodes of kicking or screaming, but they will get used to it.
- Make a big deal out of getting rid of them. Pack them up and “ship” them to other littles who need them more-or let them help cut the nipples off of their stash. One cute idea I saw online recently was a grandfather tied his grandson’s soother to a balloon and let him release it up into the sky and wave bye-bye. The little guy loved it!
- Dip them in something safe. Try vinegar, or really minty toothpaste. Make sure you do it with them all. If they all taste gross, they’re not going to want them in their mouths.
- Get creative!
Just remember-contrary to what some will say-pacifiers aren’t evil. They’ve been used for centuries-and as long as you use them properly-they can be great! 😊