Parenting for the Perplxed | To use or not to use: the big pacifier debateby rachel biale
|Follow j. on||and|
My 3-month-old baby wants to suck all the time. After 10 minutes on a side, she’s full but wants to stay on the breast for another hour. I want to meet her needs but can’t have her Velcroed to me all day. We’re considering a pacifier, but every time I see a 4-year-old with one lodged in his mouth, I shudder. Your advice? — San Francisco mom
Dear San Francisco mom: Pacifiers do generate passionate debates. I, too, cringe at kids cruising around town with pacifiers permanently implanted in their mouths, but I’ve never seen one go to college that way, so let’s not panic.
Pacifiers are useful for soothing babies, especially fussy ones, and getting them back to sleep in the middle of the night. But you will have a problem if your child grows extremely dependent on a pacifier and you don’t gradually restrict its use.
Decide about a pacifier based on these questions:
1. Is your baby very sensitive? Fussy? Wants to suck all the time?
2. Is your life hectic? Are both parents working? Are you stretched to the maximum?
4. Do you have an older child or an aging parent who needs your care?
5. Do you live far from other family?
If you answered “yes” to most of these, I advise trying a pacifier. Crutch? Yes, of course; but raising a baby takes many hands, so a crutch is probably exactly what you need.
Your baby may be finicky, so try several pacifiers until you find one she likes (some never take to them). Of course, you can see if your baby will use her thumb or fingers. These never get lost but are, obviously, harder to wean from.
If you go for a pacifier, bear in mind:
1. Pacifiers work well for helping babies get back to sleep but often fall out or get lost in the crib. Attach the pacifier with a short, 2-inch ribbon to the edge of your baby’s sleeve and teach her to find it by moving her hand for her until she grabs it. Put an extra pacifier in a box in the corner of the crib so you can find it in the dark. Eventually, your child can learn to get it from the box herself.
2. It’s really easy to overuse the pacifier! Don’t resort to it every time your baby cries; develop other soothing methods.
3. With time, gradually increase restrictions on using the pacifier — first only at home, then only in her room, finally only in her crib or bed.
4. Around 3 is a good age to wean from the pacifier. Start with a discussion, lay out a step-by-step plan, and promise a big reward once she’s “pacifier free.”
We did that with my son, taking advantage of his upcoming third birthday as motivation to be a “big boy.” His “pacifier habit” was one in the mouth, one in the hand. We began with the easier step — the hand-held one. We put it to bed at night in its own shoebox. That went well. Soon he started putting the mouth pacifier in the box too after a quick goodnight suck. The pacifiers spent the night right there, in the corner of his crib.
A little while later, we were driving across the country when my son wanted to fling Motzetzi (Hebrew for pacifier) out the window. We explained we were driving fast and that once he threw it out, it wasn’t coming back. He still wanted to do it, so we rolled down his window and he tossed it, yelling “Bye, Motzetzi!”
Minutes later he wanted it back. He was sad: “Motzetzi is all alone by the side of the road!” “Yes,” I said, “but probably a rabbit hopping near the road found it and took it home.” It worked! We continued with “Bunny and Motzetzi Adventures” all the way home.
On the subject of saying goodbye, “Parenting for the Perplexed” is going on hiatus. I will continue to offer parenting advice on my website Parentingcounseling.net and on my Facebook page “Parenting Counseling by Rachel Biale.” Thanks to all who have supported and appreciated this column — hopefully it will be back soon.
Be the first to comment!