Should I give my new baby a pacifier or not? It’s a question you may have thought about even before bringing the little one home. Let me break it down for you.
The pros and cons of the pacifier
First, a confession: I’m a big fan of the pacifier, up to a point. Prior to four months of age, a baby really needs something outside her body to help soothe her. Most babies satisfy this need to be soothed by sucking, and if they cannot suck on a pacifier they will use mom as a pacifier. Our second child did this for a year. My wife reports it was annoying, to say the least.
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Worth a try
I had been taught that a baby would either take a pacifier or she wouldn’t. I offered a binky to our first baby when he was a few days old, to try and help him sleep. He spat it right out. I thought “Oh, well, I guess is the kid who won’t take it!”
But a couple days later, I thought “You know, this kid just isn’t settling. Why don’t I try it again?”
Sure enough, he took it and it was a good thing. At that point in his life he and his mother needed it!
Breast-fed vs. bottle-fed babies
If you’re going to breast feed, seriously consider the binky. Some babies need to suck much more often in order to self-settle. Trust me, you don’t want to end up as your baby’s human pacifier. For bottle-fed babies, the stakes are not as high, so if your baby doesn’t really need something in her mouth at all times, you might consider trying to wean off the pacifier early. Here’s why:
A life saver becomes a bad habit
Too much of a good thing, right? As I’ve said in other posts, at some point the baby will learn to self-settle. For boys this happens by 6 months, for girls around 4 months. After that point, if the baby still uses a binky, she’s at risk of developing a bad sleep association. The binky changes from being something necessary to being a bad habit. I recommend tossing the little buggers out by six months. I mean throw them outside the house. You want to reduce your own temptation to go get it when the baby cries!
If you don’t get rid of it soon after the baby learns to self-soothe, it becomes progressively harder to do so. And you’ll smack yourself in the forehead wishing you had done it sooner!
So What Do I Do?
- Try it. If your baby won’t take a binky at first, don’t give up. Try different sizes and shapes. If you hit on something she likes you’ll be glad you made the effort.
- Just be sure you throw away the pacifier at six months. If you keep it in longer than that, it will become a habit that some day you may regret not breaking sooner.