I have a love/hate relationship with pacifiers. On one hand, they are very helpful to a tiny new baby (not to mention their tired Mommas!)...on the other, they can be as addictive to a toddler as cigarettes to a truck driver.
I personally think there are a ton of benefits to using what we called a "binkie", especially in the first 6 months. Sucking can be soothing for a baby and providing them with a pacifier helps keep their fingers and thumbs out of their mouths. Breaking a child of a pacifier is A LOT easier than breaking them of thumb or finger sucking...I have several people in my life that will tell you first hand. You guys know who you are! ;o) Haha!
Another benefit of using a pacifier is the possible role it plays in the prevention of SIDS. I've seen a few articles about this and although it isn't 100% apparent what WILL prevent SIDS, there are lots of thoughts and pacifiers are one of them.
There are some obvious disadvantages to using a pacifier that can't be ignored. The greatest being the habit that is formed. Babies (and their parents) start relying on pacifiers VERY early on. Lots of babies need a pacifier right after they eat, before/during/after sleeping and some basically think that a pacifier is a permanent part of their body and just won't give it up.
So is there a happy medium to get the advantages of using a pacifier AND not making your child feel like you are cutting off an appendage when you start weening them? I think so! Here's what seemed to work for us:
- From birth our daughter was only giving a pacifier when feeding, diaper changing and rocking didn't sooth her. If she didn't stop crying after us giving her the "binkie" for a few minutes, we took it away and tried something else.
- We would always let her fall asleep with her pacifier, but somewhere between 3 and 6 months we would walk in after she feel asleep to take it out.
- After 6 months, we took the pacifier away during the day. It was put up and only used in the car, for sleeping or when she was SUPER inconsolable from teething.
- At a year she was only using it for sleep and long car rides.
- At 15 months I drew the line. We started clipping the end of the "binkie" and after a few days she was totally done with it.
As we all know, every child is different but I think a very important thing to remember is that a pacifier should be a BABY'S soother, not a crutch for Mommy and Daddy. It is SO easy to pop that little thing in baby's mouth for a few minutes of quiet...but if you work on not creating bad habits from the start, your baby can have a great option for soothing and still be independent from the addiction that is "the binkie".