In defense of the lowly pacifier

With my first son, I waited to introduce a pacifier until breastfeeding was well established. He wasn’t interested. By that time, I had become his pacifier of choice.

His little brother, born 6 weeks early, tried to stick his hands in his mouth constantly from day one. The pediatrician recommended giving him the pacifier from the start to avoid the longer-term issue of thumb-sucking that might arise otherwise. He took to it eagerly, and it didn’t interfere with breastfeeding at all.

Now at a month and a half, I give him the pacifier when he’s falling asleep.

I might have thought that introducing this potentially habit-forming object at bedtime was a really bad idea. But I recently noticed that the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) also recommends offering a pacifier when your baby is going to sleep.

Not that I follow all the AAP’s recommendations. I agree that crib bumpers are evil – and a waste of money – but I’ll admit I embrace co-sleeping wholeheartedly (with strict precautions of course).

Still, backing by the AAP gives the whole thing an air of validity when I explain to the grandparents that a binky can be a good thing.

Why would the AAP recommend such a seemingly innocuous baby item? Apparently, using a pacifier can reduce the risk of SIDS. The AAP reports: Four recent studies have reported a substantially lower SIDS incidence among infants who used pacifiers than among infants who do not.

See here how the AAP recommends using pacifiers, including type, size and what NOT to do with a pacifier.

My baby also has reflux, brought on by an immature digestive system. The extended sucking action that goes along with pacifier use may help alleviate his discomfort. According to Dr. Sears, “Frequent sucking stimulates saliva production, which… eases the irritation of reflux.”

Plus, with many obviously experienced moms, including this mom of 6, backing the idea that pacifiers are indeed ok, I feel confident that I’m not setting my baby up for trouble. (As an aside, see that link above for a vivid description of the different style of sucking a baby must use depending on the type of nipple. Talented little people, babies are.)

So, this is my defense of the lowly pacifier.

I may check back in when it’s time to wean the baby off it. That might be a whole separate article, as they say.

Confessions of a reformed baby-led parenting extremist
To my not-yet-mom friends: I’ll return your call in 6 months after I feed my baby

Comments (3)

  1. Lisa

    I never realized that pacifiers could help with reflux! Sadly, my son is not interested in his pacifier. He is trying to jam his hands in his mouth so maybe he will learn to suck his thumb soon.

  2. Jessica Beard

    Before I had my son, I always thought I wouldn’t introduce a paci to him until a few months after birth. My opinion changed after he was born. He was a little guy that wanted something in his mouth at all times in order to satisfy him. It did not interfere with him getting used to breastfeeding. Now that he is six months old, I have found that the pacifier helps calm him down when he is upset, soothe him as he goes to bed, and helps keep him entertained. I have also read that pacifiers help reduce the chance of SIDS. We’ll probably both have to ween our sons when they get a little older, but for the time being, it helps to have pacis around.

  3. Lisa

    Ok, now I’m feeling the pacifier actually interferes with his sleep. He can go bonkers for two hours straight when he’s so tired and wants to sleep, but the binky keeps falling out of his mouth and waking him up. That means every 5 minutes we’re sticking it back in, too. Anyone else have this problem?

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