PACIFIERS - The Great Debate
By Nancy Hamm
It’s 2 a.m., and you have been up every thirty minutes for the last four hours. You expect to be up every thirty minutes for the rest of the night. You are exhausted. Life looks pretty dim, and your precious bundle of joy is only three weeks old. The baby will sleep fine when sucking on the pacifier but she does not have the control to keep it in her mouth so when it falls out, she wakes up and starts crying. Wait, you can take the baby to bed with you and hold the pacifier in her mouth. It will work, but you will not sleep well knowing she is right beside you. So what is the solution to this exhausting situation?
I am here to give you insight into the pros and cons of pacifiers. Do I use them in my work? Yes! They do a great job to stretch feeding time and soothe a fussy baby. Has a baby I cared for been pacifier dependent? No! Why not? It is a habit that can be easily broken and is not beneficial.
Let’s start with the pros and cons of pacifier use:
Great Soothing tool
May offer a temporary distraction
Works well to extend feeding time
Pacifiers are disposable
Baby may become dependent
May increase the risk of middle ear infections
Prolonged use may lead to dental problems
If you choose to offer your baby a pacifier, keep these tips in mind:
• Let your baby set the pace. If your baby is not interested in the pacifier, try again later or skip it entirely. Don’t force the issue.
• Let sleeping babies lie. If the pacifier falls out of your baby’s mouth while he is sleeping, don’t pop it back in. They may cry for a minute but will soon learn to soothe themselves.
• Try other ways to calm your baby. Don’t use the pacifier as the first line of defense. Sometimes just changing the baby’s position may be all that is needed.
• Know when to pull the plug. If you find your baby becoming too dependent on the pacifier, pull the plug. Do it in the first three months. After three months it is entirely a habit. Please don’t get me wrong, it can also be a habit in the first three months and the longer you let the habit continue, the harder it is to break. Once broken, your life will become much easier.
Use the pacifier with caution. The following advice is what we call insider’s information. It is so simple but takes a lot of consistency and fortitude.
You must teach your baby to self-soothe. Part of the self-soothing is giving the pacifier as a part of soothing a baby one time. When it falls out you must let the baby soothe. Self- soothing can also involve distracting them, changing their position, patting them or shushing them loudly in their ear, swaddling them or gentle jiggling. Yes, even when they are only two or three weeks old self-soothing works. As a matter of fact, the earlier you start the easier it will be. The crying schedule for a two or three week old is one to three minutes. Usually, they fall asleep before the time is up. This is the beginning of creating a baby-friendly home, a happy mommy and a content baby.
About the Author:
Nancy Hamm: Co-Owner of Gentle Blessings www.gentleblessing.com. Owner of Exclusively Newborns www.exclusivelynewborns.com and the Managing Director of the NCSA, (Newborn Care Specialist Association). Ms. Hamm is a Certified Newborn Care Specialist and has been caring for newborns for over 25 years. She educates RN’s, LPN’s, Doulas and Nannies in newborn education. Her first love is doing night or 24/7 duty for newborns and consulting/educating new parents. Ms. Hamm can be reached at 602-412-849