Should I Give My Newborn A Pacifier? The Guilt And Reasons Why No Harm Will Be Done

Like a Gremlin my newborn turns into a monster in the later part of the evening and cluster feeds some nights. It seems like nothing will satisfy his need to keep on sucking. Last night we were going on hour three when my boobs felt depleted and saying I was sore is an understatement. It was after this long breastfeeding session when he wanted more and gulped down a 4 oz bottle of formula.

But even after all that food, he was opening his mouth and fusing as a cue that he wanted more.

Let me make it clear that I have or am in no shape or form denying or depriving my child nutrients. But he was chowing down so much that I knew we both (my son gets the bad case of hiccups) needed a small break to digest and relax, if even just for 15 minutes.

I also don’t want my baby screaming on the top of this lungs for 15 minutes.

So breaking down, I decided to give him pacifier.

And the clouds opened up, the light was shinning down on me and all was peaceful in the world—for about 5 minutes.

He adorably sucked for literally about 5 minutes, just enough time to get him a fresh onsie for bed, set up more bottles for when my husband takes over and go to the bathroom.

Looking at him in his bassinet, sucking away on a pacifier that was almost the size of his whole face, he looked like a little angel. Of course this didn’t last long. By the time his mobile stop spinning and the music stopped, this kid spit the sucker out of his mouth, but he laid there content for a few more minutes like the good boy he is.

The 5 minutes of solitude before he was over the pacifier.

This was short lived because it was then time to change him as he slowly began to fuss. But with a clean diaper and pajamas on, and my husband ready to take over to let me nap, he could barely believe that our little one was ready for more food. We weren’t going to let him go hungry, so off he went to give him a bottle while I went off to la la land.

But as I put my head on the pillow, I couldn’t help to feel a ping of guilt over even having to give him the pacifier. As if I did something wrong, when my husband first came into the room I blurted it out that I had used one as if it were a dirty secret and I just needed to confess it.

See, there are two types of parents out there: those who give their baby a pacifier and those who don’t. And it seems (at least within my inner circle) like those who do are judged for doing so.

But why should we feel guilty for giving our babies a binky? (This is what my family calls a pacifier.)

Despite the fact that I was giving a life supply of pacifiers at my baby shower, I have been hesitant to use them. For one, I gave birth at a “baby friendly” hospital that teaches that pacifiers should not be giving to a newborn for the first month. This is because breastfeeding mothers should feed on demand and giving them a pacifier could interfere with their intake of food. The theory is that giving them a binky means they will have missed out on getting the nutrients if you just gave them your breast.

The second main reason why I have been anti-pacifier is because my baby for the most part is a good baby in the sense that he doesn’t cry a lot, and fusses a lot during those occasions of cluster feeding. There simply just isn’t a reason to give one to him. As my family keeps reminding me, it’s one bad habit you won’t have to break later on, while advising me not to give one to him.

However, the more I think about it, it isn’t the end of the world if he sucks on the damn thing.

Okay, so the “bad habit” logic aside, many babies including myself are (were) thumb suckers. So what really is the difference between the two?

The second argument against them says that there are bad for the baby’s teeth and will make them grow in improperly. But the pacifiers I have clearly state that they are orthodontic pacifiers, which are designed to contour into the baby’s mouth to prevent the misalignment of teeth. So it seems like this point is invalid.

There are also other benefits of using a binky. In my research on newborn hiccups, I found that sucking on a pacifier can actually help reduce the case of hiccups. This is because the sucking will help them relax their diaphragm to have the hiccups subside.

Studies have found that pacifier use actually prevents against SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), the leading cause of death in babies and a real fear for parents.

Not only does it slightly help reduce SIDS, but one study published in the British Medical Journal in 2005, researchers found that is did so by 90 percent. While this reasoning behind this isn’t quite clear, it could do to the fact that the constant sucking means the baby doesn’t fall into a deep enough sleep, and also can’t bury their hands in blankets since the pacifier is in the way.

Pacifiers are often the only thing that can sooth a colicky baby, or a teething baby who is looking for relief. So why are we made to feel guilty about using them?

Then again maybe it’s just me.

All parents out there should not feel guilty about the decisions they make that they feel are best for their child. Every child and their needs are different, and so are parents and parenting styles.

For me, I decided that there is nothing wrong with giving my son a pacifier if it’s the only thing that will sooth him for a few minutes. I just won’t be reaching for it all the time. But when I do, I will now do so guilt free.


Photo: Maria Eklind | Flickr



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