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Ask the Expert

Talk to the Doctor About Pacifiers & Babies

By May 12, 2011May 13th, 201216 Comments

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Earlier this week, Dr. Melissa began a discussion on pacifiers and babies with her first She Says, She Says post here on SITS. And what a discussion it was! Tons of you weighed in with your thoughts and shared your own experiences.

Today, Dr. Melissa is back and sharing her input. Read on to understand where this doctor and mother stands on pacifiers and babies.

pacifiers and babies

I loved reading all your comments regarding the pacifier…and thumb! Obviously, babies love to suck and some become quite enamored with that silicone soother.

I have to admit, at the start of my parenting journey, I was not a fan of the pacifier. I was conflicted about introducing one to my son. However, after more than a few difficult nights and naptimes, introducing the paci became the final icing on the cake to round out our bedtime ritual.

I have since become quite the pacifier fan. My daughter is currently in the throes of her paci love affair and we are nearing the day when she will have to say good-bye.

So, in a nutshell, here is how I feel about the pacifier: it is a potent soother, some babies love them, and some babies don’t. It does not replace responding to our babies’ needs but can provide non-nutritive sucking comfort. Yes, it can be habit forming, and yes, it is prudent to relegate the paci to nap and bedtime.

With all that being said, each baby and child is different. When and why to start weaning your child off the pacifier depends entirely on your child’s unique situation and temperament.

I generally recommend weaning from the pacifier if a child is suffering from recurrent ear infections, has a speech delay or impediment, is the age of 4 or older, or is showing you signs that she is ready (i.e. chewing on it).

Most parents I encounter are worried about their child’s teeth. As long as your child has kicked the binky habit by age 4, there should be no permanent jaw or tooth misalignment. What is most important is that your child is not walking around with a paci in his mouth all day.

So let’s talk about weaning. Typically, toddlers weaned off the paci prior to the age of two will do so more readily. After the age of two, children become much more attached and more elaborate weaning techniques may need to be employed. Usually, a visit from the paci fairy or a special gift for being such a big boy will do the trick.

Follow your instincts and your child’s lead on this one. My son was ready by age two. He started chewing on them and I told him it was broken now. He helped me throw them away and has been just fine ever since (he’s six now). My daughter is three and is in love. She already knows the day is drawing near when the paci fairy will be visiting. In fact, she has a special gift request in mind.

I know it won’t be easy for her…or me for that matter. However, we both realize our paci days are numbered. Just remember to involve your child in the good-bye process and most of all, enjoy your adorable tots. The days of the paci won’t last forever.

About Francesca

Francesca has an extensive background in content marketing, public relations, and social outreach. She oversees all Operations at Sway Group, including our robust metrics capabilities. Prior to joining the online world, Francesca oversaw viticulture and oenology at various wineries in both California and Italy, and managed regulatory affairs and facility approvals at the biotech company, Genentech. Francesca has been featured on CBS Sacramento and Food Blogger Pro’s podcast. She has also hosted an AMA webinar and spoken at Social Media World.

16 Comments

  • Andrea says:

    Go to the Thumbuddy To Love web site…they make 3 great products to help children wean from thumb sucking and pacifier sucking….children love it because it is positive and fun. You can also get it on Amazon…just search Thumbuddy To Love…

  • Thank you for this informative post. It could not have come at a better time as the binky fairy just visited our house this past weekend. My #2 is going through withdraw but each night he has cried for it less then the night before. Okay, he is three years old after all and it was high time that “stinky pinki” made an exit! I had been talking to him about the binki fairy coming for a while now and he would always say that he was going to hide it so she could not find it. Well as luck would have it, we lost the binki so I just went with it and said the binki fairy came and took it. Of course, after a sleepless night with him, I found it but at that point I was not going to give it back to him. He went to sleep tonight without a tantrum over not having it, I hope he stays asleep!! Bye Bye Binky forever!!! I wish I would have gotten ride of it sooner. Best of luck to all you Mommies out there.

  • Tamie says:

    I am a paci fan! I’m on son #3 and we actually had a challenege finding one that he liked. But finally (and thankfully) we got the hospital one and he still uses it (at 10 1/2 months). My second son was the hardest to wean! I agree that as they get older and it is more of a habit, you have to limit its use to the bed. I would tell my son that if he wanted his paci he had to get in bed, and what little one *wants* to stay in bed. Gradually it just went away and we couldn’t find them any more…..like you said: each child is different and you’ve got to treat the paci that way….great post!

  • Lindsey says:

    This is great info. All these comments are wonderful! My son in 1.5 and recently decided he was addicted to his binki. Drives me nuts, mostly because he just seems to old, or maybe because my Mom told me he was too old for it…hummmm

    With my first son he got hand foot and mouth disease, that took care of that! With my second I’m not sure what to do. I’ve heard cutting the end off works, then they think it’s broken and don’t want it. Just working myself up to trying it. So not looking forward to this, but the habit seems to be getting worse. Uggg.

  • Jayna Rae says:

    Very informative. My first son wanted NOTHING to do with the pacifier. However, my 9 month old used one. He has pretty much weaned himself, but each time a tooth comes in he wants it about once a day.

  • mangiabella says:

    very. good. input.

  • I was sad to give my first daughter a pacifier (or “nuk” as we call them, for some unknown reason). But I begged (BEGGED!) my 2nd daughter to take one. 😉

  • Jody says:

    Ours is a soothie Wubbanub, which I’ve found is great–she has three, two of which have been de-pacied, so she still has her little monkeys to love. She was only using them during naps and bedtime until we weaned her from the bottle, at which point she started using them more;then we had her little sister and neither of us were much willing to take it away. So our plan is to wean in July, the month she turns two, after all our parents are done visiting the new baby.

    Now whether we can keep her from stealing the baby’s, that’s another question!

  • Kaci says:

    You’re advice has taken a lot of pressure off of me!

    A short back story:

    My daughter is three and a has a FIERCE love of her bink. We regulate the use, but currently we are in the middle of a military move and it’s very stressful on her. Her father got back from overseas, then three days later we left the only home she’s ever known and all her friends. We are staying with my grandparents while our new home gets ready for us. She has very few toys and no friends to play with in this sleepy retirement town we are staying in.

    So, she has been permitted to keep it in her mouth but she must stay in the bedroom with it. Now, typically I just put it away and tell her “bed time only.”

    I anticipate the “Binky Fairy” coming to visit our new house in VA, relatively quickly.

    I am so torn about how I feel about it. On one hand, she sleeps through the night a good 12-14 hours with it. (It falls out of her mouth after she falls asleep) I really don’t want to mess with that! On the other hand, I’d like her to not be so dependent on something to calm herself down.

    Well, here’s hoping and thank you again for your advice!

  • Karmen says:

    That is the best piece of advice I have ever gotten since becoming a mother… “It won’t last forever”…nothing does with these every growing ever changing bundles of joy and it has helped me to relax and enjoy being a mother! Thanks for the wonderful input on the “Paci” debate 🙂

  • McKenzie says:

    My son, a little bit over a year old, uses/used a binkie. I don’t know how I would have coped without it, he is a very fussy and crabby boy and that binkie has been a life saver at times. We are now thinking of creative ways to get rid of it, haha!

  • Kelly Deneen says:

    My little one (2 months old) is not really a fan, and I am not sure if I am disappointed or relieved. We weaned our oldest daughter from her pacifier at 16 months, and bedtimes became SUCH a battle. Anyway, interesting discussion!

  • Miss Rosie says:

    My youngest is 2 and we have been trying to get away from the pasi. She never uses it at day care but when at home she throws a complete fit for it. I feel better knowing that is ok if she still uses it some.

  • My sister used to call it her “pass-a-flower”. Great advice!

  • My friend mailed hers to the “binky fairy” and the child put it in the mailbox. Another had her daughter go to bed and leave the binky under her pillow, and in the morning, there was a gift.

    My daughter loved her binky, and we weaned her off by only permitting her to have it in her big girl bed. My husband used to tease that she would go upstairs to “have a smoke”.

  • Jenny says:

    My son used a binky till he was about 1 yr old (mainly to shut him up if he was being really fussy) then one day he just didn’t notice them anymore and didn’t use them and they all just disappeared. Years later (last spring) we found them all under the fridge and stove LOL