To pacify or not to pacify?

The use of pacifiers is such a controversial topic. Some people swear by them and other people refuse to use them. All I can do is give you my point of view through my experience. I have used pacifiers, much more frequently in the beginning of my career, but now I try not to.

The reason being is that I now believe a pacifier is just a bad habit, that covers up the real reasonĀ  your baby is crying.

When your baby cries they are communicating with you. They are letting you know they are tired, hungry, uncomfortable or gassy, so if you constantly put a pacifier in your baby’s mouth you can miss the subtle differences in their cry. After all the word pacify means to keep quiet.

But if your baby is trying to let you know their diaper is dirty and you are putting the pacifier in their mouth, you’re not actually resolving the problem. I’m sure your baby will go to sleep, but you are teaching them that you won’t always tend to their needs, you just want them to be quiet!

Not to mention if your baby is always put to sleep with a pacifier, they never actually master the skill of self soothing and so the moment they lose the pacifier they are unable to get back to sleep, so you then need to put the pacifier back in their mouth, which isn’t fun at 3am, 3.20am, 4am! This inevitably is what happens when your baby is used to the pacifier as they usually don’t have the ability to keep it in their mouths. So then you end up trying to prop it in their mouths so it doesn’t fall out, which is probably worse, as the baby is then sucking on it constantly so never gets the opportunity to try to put themselves to sleep!

So what is the alternative? In my opinion the best alternative is simply teaching your child to go to sleep unaided. Remember the baby isn’t born knowing what to do, we as the parents have to teach, guide and help them. So how do you teach your child to go to sleep unaided, I hear you asking? Obviously every baby is an individual so it all works a little differently as in some babies will take to it quicker than others. You simply need to put your baby down to sleep, right before they fall totally asleep in your arms. This can be a little confusing, as many parents will say but I really enjoy holding my baby, and thats fine. Hold them as much as you would like, but when they are falling asleep put them down in their crib! Now if they are asleep in their crib and you still want to hold them, you can. Gently pick them up so they stay asleep and you can hold them in your arms. I strongly believe in having plenty of cuddling time with your baby in the beginning, they just need to actually fall asleep in their crib. Once your baby has reached 6 weeks old I wouldn’t recommend picking them up anymore once they are sleeping.

There are always exceptions to the rules. If you have a severely collicky baby who can’t be settled any other way, then I would use a pacifier. Occassionally if you have a baby who is having a difficult time adjusting from the breast to a bottle a pacifier can be used to help the transition. But always keep in mind, using the pacifier is habit forming, so the more you use it the longer it will take to stop using it!