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I can’t tell you how many times a random person has said to me “wow, you let your baby use a pacifier?” And he’s 6 months old! How dare they say that to me? What is it about having a baby that makes people think they can say whatever they want to you? Sigh…but that’s a whole separate blog post.
Anyway, yes I use a pacifier and yes, I think it’s actually a GOOD thing! Liam doesn’t have a pacifier in his mouth 24/7 – he uses it for comfort when he’s trying to sleep or is upset. Without it, we probably would be struggling to get through the night still!
Our only issue is he only uses the Wubbanub. He won’t take any other type; but that’s not really a big issue. We bought 2 so we have a back-up!
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So why are pacifiers so scary?
One of my favorite parenting books, Touch Points, goes into a little more detail on why pacifiers are NOT bad (before a certain age). The author is a pediatrician and from what he’s learned is that many people are afraid of two things when it comes to them:
-Being unable to wean off of it
And these are absolutely valid concerns. However, a baby under the age of 4-5 needn’t worry about crooked teeth due to the use of a pacifier or thumb for sucking, and as long as you drop the pacifier early enough, its a non-issue.
As far as becoming addicted to it, many experts recommend weaning your baby off their pacifier before 1 years old. After that, it becomes much more difficult (but not impossible). I’ve even read that 9 months should be when you decide to wean them off. Before 9 months, the association isn’t as strong and taking it away shouldn’t be an issue.
Liam is approaching this age so we are starting to think about weaning him. I’ll admit – I am nervous! Again, he doesn’t use it constantly but he it’s a huge help when he’s fussy or upset or on the brink of sleep. He has started using his thumb more lately, though! We’re hoping he will forget about this Wubba and just go for his thumb.
Another thing Brazelton mentions is that it’s perfectly healthy and even encouraged that a young baby has something they can use for comfort. He mentions that fetuses even suck their thumbs in the womb and even goes so far to claim that sucking a pacifier can help reduce the risk of SIDS (he says that some medical journals have shown this). Not allowing your baby that comfort item (thumb, or pacifier) is only putting stress on him/her. So if your baby wants to use their thumb or a pacifier, let them! Show them that you are there to help through hard times and that these simple actions, such as sucking a thumb or paci, are something he can rely on when he’s upset.
I’m absolutely an advocate for using a pacifier, or even sucking a thumb. It’s imperative to wean them off at an appropriate age, but when your baby is young (less than 9 months), then please, let them use it!