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Should I use the pacifier?

Should I Use a Pacifier?

infant newborns troubleshooting Aug 12, 2021

Should we use the pacifier?  

Is the pacifier a sleep crutch?  

Can I let my child sleep with a pacifier?  

 

These are the most common questions I hear from my followers and families, especially given that the American Academy of Pediatrics published a recommendation to offer a pacifier to a baby up to 1 year of age to decrease the risk of SIDS.  So what is the correct answer?

 

My anti-climactic answer is that there is no RIGHT answer, but it is essential to decide based on what is best for your family.

 

PROS

  • The use of a pacifier DOES decrease the risk of SIDS.
  • Satisfies the suck reflex that babies naturally have and can soothe them - some may say it’s a form of self-soothing as it helps them feel relaxed and feel secure.
  • A pacifier can prevent overeating.
  • According to Kinacle, “While it isn’t guaranteed, pacifiers do have the potential to impact speech development negatively. This is because when your little one is constantly sucking on a pacifier, they aren’t going to attempt to babble and copy anything you say.”

 

CONS

  • Pacifiers ARE a sleep prop.
  • Some children can sleep through the night with a pacifier as a sleep prop, but only if they can replace it on their own; otherwise, it will require intervention.  This means with every sleep cycle your child will awake to look for the pacifier if they cannot replace it on their own, causing a night waking.
  • Constant use of the pacifier in a recent study found a 33% increase in ear infections in infants aged six to ten months, so it is important overuse or constant use is avoided.  

 

WHEN TO USE IT

Pacifiers are most effective in preventing SIDS up to 6 months of age at the onset of sleep, so if you plan to use a pacifier, you may want to think about ditching it around this time before there are any long-term impacts or other effects that you may not want to linger. 

 

If you are breastfeeding, you also do not want to introduce a pacifier for at least 4 weeks, or until you have established your supply.  Doing so can impact your total breastmilk supply.  When breastfeeding, it’s also recommended to avoid the use of a pacifier if you are seeing deceased weight gain of your child, pain or issues with your nipple if you are already having supply issues and if your child already has difficulty latching or nursing.

 

Beyond these recommendations and guidelines, it is okay to use a pacifier as long as you are aware that there is a chance it can become a sleep association that requires intervention and reveal itself in multiple wakings as your child gets older and that you may need to wean them.

 

HOW DO I WEAN THE PACIFIER?

If you have just decided to use the pacifier, and your child is still under 12 weeks, you can begin practicing by slowly taking the pacifier out after your child has to fall asleep and practice having them fall asleep without a pacifier.  Moderate use will also help you avoid the pacifier becoming a sleep association and a burden in the future.  For example, use it for a couple of naps and avoid using it at every bedtime.

 

If your child is nearing 6 months of age or more, you may be one of the lucky ones and you can simply stop using it.   Some children may be okay by giving them some extra time to fall asleep without it, or you may choose that you want to have your child continue, so you can fill your crib with pacifiers so they are easily accessible to them during the night. 

Now, if you find yourself struggling to simply remove the pacifier from your sleep routines and you are also feeling the impacts of multiple night wakings to replace the pacifier, it may be time to teach your child how to fall asleep independently.  Don’t worry, this is what we are here for. 

If you are a DIY kinda mom, our Rested Mama Library and Membership gives you a step by step guide on how to do this.  If you would rather get a little extra help and need a coach, I am here for you to guide you through it all.

 

Sleep is around the corner,

Rested Mama, Happy Baby Founder

 

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