Updated: Jul 26, 2019
I was totally that Mama who said I would never give my baby a pacifier. Ha! That lasted all of 1 hour after getting home from the hospital. Here's how it started…
For the first 24 hours after having Johanna, she was basically glued to my breasts. I was obviously very new at this and even though the nurses kept saying, “you seem like a seasoned Mom,” I was not at all! Every time I would put Johanna in her bassinet she would last all of 20 minutes then back on my breast she'd go. It was about 2am when the nurse came in and created 2 horrible habits. Thanks girl! She grabbed my phone and started playing white noise then she stuck her gloved finger in Johanna's mouth until she fell asleep. I mean, it worked. The hospital doesn't give out pacifiers anymore and I'm not really sure why if they just stick their fingers in the babies mouth as if they are sucking on a pacifier.
Now, I don't mean to say horrible habits as such a bad thing. And when I say horrible habits I actually mean for me. I realized that Johanna was soothed by these 2 things instantly and for me that's all that matters. I HATED seeing her cry which is why 99% of the time she was on my chest. I loved her so much I was all for soothing her with whatever habit the nurses gave me!
Needless to say, about an hour after getting home from the hospital I popped that pacifier right in her mouth and cuddled up with her. Ah! It was amazing.
One year later…. Johanna still uses the pacifier but I've managed to limit the use to naptime, bedtime and car seat only. I think at 5 months old she started to recognize the pacifier and anytime she would see it, she wanted it. I didn't want her to be so dependent on it so I cold turkey stopped giving it to her unless she was sleeping or riding in the car.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with giving your baby a pacifier! I repeat, there is absolutely nothing wrong with giving your baby a pacifier. In fact, there are many benefits to include reducing the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (sids), encourages breastfeeding particularly for mothers with postpartum depression, distracts from stressful stimuli, helps premature babies thrive and eases air travel. These are all things listed by the American Academy of Pediatrics (you guys know this is my favorite site). Reducing SIDS is likely the reason I continued the pacifier use during bedtime. It's a reminder for the baby to breathe due to the encouragement to suck. Mothers who may suffer from postpartum depression should give their babies pacifiers in order to encourage them to nurse. If you've read my blog on postpartum depression, you know that breastfeeding reduces PPD tremendously. Using a pacifier during stimulus such as vaccinations or a bump on the head is helpful because it reduces pain.
Now for you Mama's who are like me…. The cons of using a pacifier include dental problems, risk factor for ear infections, potential weight gain and too much dependence. Don't worry about the dental problems until between the ages of 2 and 4. Studies show the pacifier can cause an overbite or cross bite during use between these ages. The greater risk for ear infections comes from a change in pressure behind the ear during the action of sucking.
When you're ready to get rid of the pacifier, there are so many ways to go about it. The American Academy of Pediatrics advises taking the pacifier at a year old. However, if you're not ready to take it most children will stop on their own between the age of 2 and 4.
Some suggestions on weaning and completely kicking the pacifier habit include going cold turkey, setting some parameters, trying positive reinforcement, trading the pacifier for something more desirable and most importantly don't cave! Going cold turkey definitely depends on the parents because this seems like the toughest method. If you think about out of site, out of mind it should be the easiest, right? But after creating this habit the AAP states that it takes about 2 weeks to break after going cold Turkey. This means 2 weeks of a crying fussy baby/toddler. But if you are able to do this then more power to you! This is not the life for me!
Setting some parameters was what I did at first. Now I'm torn about what to do next. I limited the pacifier to sleep times and the car seat only. Recently, I stopped letting her have it in the car seat. So far, it's been going okay. Nighttime weaning will be the hardest part!
Positive reinforcement and trading the pacifier for something more desirable are things you should do in addition to the method you choose! Distracting baby is the best thing to do when trying to change a habit. This worked wonders for Johanna! These are the things I did when I took the pacifier cold turkey during the daytime.
If any of you Mama's have been through this stage already, let us know what you did to get rid of the pacifier!