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How To Pacify An Infant – Or Not

15 January 2013

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Pacifier. Nuk. Binky. (Husband has some weird term for it that he swears is legit, but sounds totally made up to me.)

Our little meatball is hardly a month old (Already! Seriously. I don’t know if I can handle this pace.) and I’m ashamed to admit how much time and energy I spend thinking about a piece of plastic and rubber small enough to fit in my pocket.

Parents, I want your input. 

First, I tend to look to and trust the doulas and midwives in my life, on baby matters, more than pretty much anyone else. There are only two of them, but they’re passionate and wonderfully accessible. If one of them got in a fight with an OB, I’d side with the doula. I’m like that.

And they don’t like pacifiers.

  1. It can cause “nipple confusion,” especially in newborns, which makes breastfeeding difficult. Baby needs to learn how to latch on to a boob, and pacifiers are different, and some babies seriously, and understandably, have problems going from one to the other.
  2. There are benefits to letting Baby stay on a boob even when he’s not really eating anymore. It stimulates milk production. It releases hormones that help Mommy and Baby connect and bond. Ask yourself: Which came first – the nipple or the Nuk?

On the other hand, I’ve read:

  1. Sucking triggers a calming reflex in newborns and infants. It’s natural and normal, and doesn’t become an emotional attachment until Baby is 3-4 (some say 6) months old. It’s one of the “5 S’s” for calming babies.
  2. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends pacifiers for preventing SIDS.

I’ve heard from parents who have had no problem with pacifiers, and from parents who have vowed off pacifiers because of bad experiences.

So, parents, I’m soliciting advice.

Right now we have one that we keep in the diaper bag, and we only pull it out as a last resort … most of the time. He usually only gets it if we’re in public, or if I’ve tried everything else at home and he’s still angry (which doesn’t really happen much anyway), or if we’re in the car and he’s crying.

Parents, share your wisdom. Did you use one? If so, were you breastfeeding and did it interfere? Did he/she give it up easily later on? How much later on? How often did you use it? Did you try other things for comfort, or just go straight to the pacifier? If you didn’t use one – why not? Did your baby substitute a thumb or finger? Was that hard to break?

I’m curious.

(Dooley. I’m not sure if that’s how it’s spelled, but Husband calls them “doolies.” I Googled it. He made that up.)

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Lisa permalink
    15 January 2013 2:22 PM

    Not an ounce of medical book knowledge- but both our kids used a “paci”. Both my kids nursed without an issue. One needed it as she was VERY oral and would calm instantly when it went in her mouth – and one kinda dug it but didn’t need it. No problems giving it up at 2 and both turned out to be very normal kids : ).

    • Lex permalink
      15 January 2013 8:52 PM

      I don’t know if I’d say your kids are “normal,” but they’re pretty great. 😉

  2. Annemarie permalink
    15 January 2013 3:27 PM

    I nursed and used the pacifier. If he seems to be nursing well and has no problem attaching, I would not think that nipple confusion would become an issue at this stage (especially since he is now a grown up infant and no longer a newborn 😉 ). My husband was very opposed to kids walking around with pacifiers so the rule was that it had to go as soon as he started walking, which was 9 months. I wish I had known then about cutting the tip off a little at a time because that has worked really well for several of my friends. We, meaning hubby, decided one day that was it so he threw the pacifier in the trash and walked the garbage bag to the curb. Hubby was not my favorite person when nap time rolled around, and he had to take the night shift until the hysterics (not an exaggeration) stopped, but it only lasted for two or three days.

    We did the pacifier because both of my sisters were major thumb suckers and it took them years and years to break the habit, well into their elementary school years. I wanted an option that could be used when he was little and sucking did serve an important purpose, but then could be taken away as he reached the toddler stage so that we did not have problems breaking him of the habit. Additionally, it was really important for me to be able to leave him with other people for date night away with hubby and if his only source of comfort was my breast, that would have been a challenge.

    • Lex permalink
      15 January 2013 8:53 PM

      Ya. In the weeks that I held out against the pacifier, he started to suck on his fist and then his thumb. Wasn’t excited about that.

      Never heard about cutting the tip off, but three people today have mentioned that. Interesting strategy. Thanks for the insight!

  3. 15 January 2013 8:14 PM

    I can not comment on this too much for the fact that neither of my boys would even take the nuks. But I know several people who breastfeed and use nuks and they have no problems. It has been shown to help reduce the risk of SIDS and we use it in the hospital to help calm the baby for procedures and such. It really becomes a decision of what you prefer. If my boys would have taken the nuk I would have given it to them.

    • Lex permalink
      15 January 2013 8:56 PM

      We had on our birth plan that we didn’t want him to have a pacifier, but when Natasha (pretty sure that’s her name) came to get him for his circumcision, she just told us he was going to get one during the procedure. Didn’t ask. Just informed. And we figured that meant it was pretty serious. 🙂 What kind of pacifiers do you use in the hospital? Any particular reason you use those over the rest?

  4. Crystal Tolentino permalink
    15 January 2013 9:22 PM

    Hi Lex,
    I am pro-pacifiers:) All four of my kids used them and I nursed them all. I had no issues with nursing and using the pacifier and going to the bottle when it was time to go back to work. The pacifier keep my lil ones quite and relaxed and help them sleep. All four also came to a point where they did not want it anymore and just throw it. That was at the age of 2-6 months. From Krystyna to Elyssa and with all the different pacifiers out in the market I thought the Gumdrop made by Hawaii Medical were the coolest and best ones on the market. This pacifier was given at the hospital where Elyssa was born and I ordered a fee on eBay for reserves. Google it. My kids did not suck their thumb. Nico for comfort other than the pacifier loved playing with the pointy ends of blankets with his finger..lol and Elyssa had her teddy I gave her when she was born and Cecilia loved the colored cloth diapers she used as a “towee”. Those were all more as their security item though. Ummm.. Oh Nico loved to listen to classical music.. That seemed to calm him at times without his pacifier while laying in his bouncer. Hope this helps!! Welcome to motherhood.

    • Lex permalink
      15 January 2013 10:19 PM

      Thanks! We have one cheap-o pacifier that I got at a shower and kept, “just in case.” I’m thinking if we’re going to actually use one, I should look into getting a good one (if there is such a thing). I’ll look into those Gumdrop ones. 🙂

  5. 22 January 2013 6:20 PM

    I’ve used pacifiers (or soothers, as we call them in Canada) and I don’t regret it! 🙂 They are so nice to have when you need to calm your baby – in the vehicle, in public, for naps & night time, etc. We mostly decided to only use soothers for sleeping and not for awake time, also not wanting to have kids walking around with it in their mouth all the time. We weaned them from needing it at night time around a year and a half, which wasn’t too difficult, and honestly, didn’t wean them from it for nap time until they no longer napped. 🙂 I’ve had no problems with nipple confusion and have also heard that they have a need to suck and that it can help with SIDS. As for other things we’ve used for comfort – we play white noise in their rooms for naps & night time, and my youngest has grown to like his blankies. We also swaddled our babies for sleeping for as long as we possibly could. 🙂 But I love soothers – they are a life saver!!

    • Lex permalink
      23 January 2013 8:48 AM

      Thanks! We definitely do the swaddling thing too, although he only seems to be okay with it about half of the time. 🙂

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