Put a Bib on It

Pacifier or Not?


My 15-month-old son, Ev, uses a pacifier. There, I said it.

Before I had a baby, I saw other people’s children with pacifiers and thought, “My child will not use one of those.” Then I had Ev. When he was a newborn, it seemed to me he was always hungry. Even after he was fed, he would still cry for no apparent reason.

So I began asking questions and researching ways to soothe my baby boy.  The nurses at the hospital told me that newborns have a natural reflex to suck and it’s not necessarily that they are hungry; they suggested I give him a pacifier. And so I did. And it worked.

I watched a video I received free in the mail called Happiest Baby on the Block. Dr. Karp, who is featured in the video, reported that infants need the five S’s: Swinging, Shhhing, Side/Stomach, Swaddling and Sucking. So I began swinging, shhhing, cradling him on his side/stomach, swaddling–and I introduced the PACIFIER!  Yes, the pacifier, the one that I said my child would never use.

I must admit that it was one of the best things that I could have done for my son (and myself). After a few weeks, Ev was a very happy baby indeed. He was sleeping through the night at just nine weeks.This gave me reassurance that the  pacifier was the way to go.

Now, however, it is 15 months later and he still uses it. He usually only wants it at bedtime or when he is tired, sad or riding in the car. I know that the pacifier has become a comfort item. Whenever I think about transitioning him off that pacifier, I feel guilty because I know it is comforting to him. I would never take a “blankie” from my 15-month-old, so why would I take away his pacifier?

Ev cries in the middle of the night and won’t stop crying until my husband or I go in, find the fallen pacifier that is under the crib (which requires body contortions) and give it back to him. Then he magically falls right back to sleep.

When I brought the pacifier up to Ev’s pediatrician she was very adamant that it wasn’t a big deal. She also told me that one of her sons used a pacifier until he was age 4. Many people (friends, family and strangers alike) told her, just as I have been told, that the pacifier was going to mess up her son’s teeth.  She also went on to tell me that her son has a perfect, NATURAL smile.

With other developmental transitions, my husband and I followed Ev’s lead, figuring that he would take the next step when he is ready. I suppose that is what I will do for now with the pacifier. And, in the mean time, I will look for ways/activities to make that transition easier on him.

5 thoughts on “Pacifier or Not?

  1. I personally sucked my thumb until I was at least 4…(it tasted good!). My kids all used pacifiers as infants but none developed a love for using it. One of my nieces used hers until age 4. I only have 2 suggestions for you…1) I think you’re on the right track just giving it to him at certain times- sad/tired/hungry, etc., and perhaps say something of an explanation like “the pacifier is for night-time; not when you’re playing… something like that shows you’re expecting him to not have it in his mouth everywhere he goes, all the time he’s not eating or talking. If he wants it all the time, maybe make compromises….let’s put it up until nap time, if you want banana, give me the pacifier while you’re eating, etc. 2) I think you need to buy a couple or three more pacifiers–keep them clean and ready..then in the middle of the night, grab one and give it to him. In the morning, dig them out from under the crib with a yardstick…minimize your own out-of-bed/awake time.

  2. Sadie – I was the same way. Hopefully my story will make you feel better 🙂

    I remembering registering at BRU when I was pregnant with Taylor and thinking, pacifiers? Really? I am so not going to have a kid walking around with a pacifier hanging out of their mouth (yea, just like I wasn’t going to have a chicken nugget and fries kid either) But as the story goes Taylor would go on to be one of those babies that required quite the bedtime routine and if a paci wasn’t in her mouth, she just wasn’t going to go down for me.

    By 12 months old, I thought ok, this is it, time to start phasing these things out. But that was the same time I went back to work and daycare, God love ’em, kept giving her the paci – the ONE I kept there for emergencies – a room of 10 crying babies probably is an emergency, it would be to me anyway and they continued to give it to her on command. So that combined with my working-mom guilt and bam, the paci lived on for another year. Then it became bedtime only thanks in part to a tough-loving teacher (thanks Mrs. Debbie) that told us she didn’t do diapers or pacifiers in her room. Great for school during the day, but Taylor now 2 years old would keep a secret stash of those little things around the house so just when we thought we had better control over WHEN she had the paci she would pop up with one while playing in her kitchen or with her box of blocks.

    It would be another long year of pacifiers for us. When Taylor was 2.5, we had her brother Parker and we knew that she would be very observant to his paci use. And she was. We took that as a time to show her that paci’s were for babies, like Parker. I kind of feel like it is at this point in the story where we should have not been so afraid of our kid and just thrown away any of her remaining stash, but we didn’t. Her third birthday came and went that Feb. We were planning a week in FL for June – and that I decided would be the right time. So the night before we left, I somewhat ceremoniously threw away every.single.paci of Taylor’s. And literally, that was it. She didn’t ask for one the entire week we were gone, so busy with being a now 3.5 year old loving life, she could have cared less. We returned home, she never asked. That was a year ago, but seems like forever really.

    Now as my son approaches his second birthday this October, I am starting to have flashbacks of the coulda shoulda woulda. Though Parker is different, he will go without one, in fact we haven’t had one at daycare for him in forever. He likes one at bedtime and we let it fly.

    This time around I think we will let him throw them away, make it a proud moment for him that he a big 2 year old. Taylor will be there to encourage him and he will think it is fun.

    Each child is so different. Taylor wasn’t interested in potty training until right before her third birthday and yet Parker at just 18 months started saying “potty” and trying to pull his pants down. Plus so much of it is in the heads of the parents. I wouldn’t let what other parents do dictate what you do that is right for your kid. We never used gates for our steps or baby locks on cabinets – people may think that is crazy, but it worked for us. I let my daughter keep a paci until she was 3.5, some people may think that is crazy (ok, I think that is crazy), but it worked for us at that time for that child.

    Good luck and maybe give Ev a little slack and a few more months with his beloved pacifier and you will likely see an opportunity to cut him off when the time is right.

  3. Ava had colic for every bit of 6 mo. I definitely think they help… I would have given her anything to soothe her. Also, a fan of Harvey… Reading his toddler book now. Ava’s 23 mo now, we started to limit her uSe when she was 18 mo or so. I found she was less animated and quiet in playgroup situations and it was keeping her from being as vocal as she wanted to be. We let her have it at bedtime, nap time and sometimes in car. The first few days were rough because she begged for it. We have a “nunny” bowl and when she wakes she puts it in bowl and knows she can pick one out at nap time. Works great. She wants to be “big girl” and also LOVES the rumpke guys…. So here in a month or so, we are going to give our “nunnys” to the “peeyou” rumpke guys and tell them to take them to the babies. Because she’s a BIG GIRL! I think it will work, but of course we will have to re sleep train. I think each situation is different. Whatever works, works! I especially thing it’s not a big deal at bedtime… I didn’t want Ava to rely on it in public and when awake. Her personality really came out when we took it! But there still babies and if they need some soothing, go for it 😉

  4. Sadie,
    Good for you! Our “paci” was our savior. I can remember buying stashes of them incase we lost one! My mother in law vividly recalls a time we traveled in the car for hours, me sitting in back next to the baby, tapping constantly on his paci to soothe him. We finally stopped our paci buying when it accidentally fell out of his mouth into the toilet. All gone!

  5. These pacifier stories and “tid pits” are great. I really appreciate all of you sharing. Ev is now pacifier free. Both myself and Ev’s child care provider started noticing that it was disrupting his play. He was generally only taking it at sleep times and car rides. However, he started asking for it in the middle of playing and/or eating. I took that to mean he was ready for someone to help him learn to self-regulate without the use of the pacifier. So, his child care provider was the bravest and stopped giving it to him at nap time (this was on a Thursday). She talked him through it. She patted his back at nap time and stayed by him while he fell asleep. When he woke, she made a big deal about being able to sleep without it. That Friday, we gave it to him at bed time. On Saturday, we did not give it to him at nap time and he went right to sleep. However, that night, he went to bed at his grandma and grandpa’s because they were babysitting him, and we decided not to fight the pacifier battle. That was the last time he had his pacifier. Sunday evening, we laid him down for bed without it. When I walked out he whined for about 10 minutes. My husband went in and rubbed his back for a minute and talked to him and then left the room. Ev went right to sleep. That was the last time Ev has “complained” about it and he hasn’t had the pacifier since. That Monday, Ev turned18 months and had a check-up. We explained the transition to his Pediatrician and she said, “Don’t look back”. And we haven’t.

    One thing has rung true in all comments and that it that different young children have different needs and you have to do what’s best for your child.

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