Update October 2019: As a first-time mom, the world of parenting is a foreign one. But we all learn quickly. By the second baby, we feel like pros. This means a lot of the anxieties aren’t present. We learned from experience and have a clearer picture of how things will go.
One of the baby items I made sure to include on my registry this time around were pacifiers—and without any mom guilt.
When I was pregnant with my son I went to childbirth classes at the hospital I delivered at that had a zero pacifier policy. They firmly believed that newborns get confused with using one and instead need to get used to breastfeeding and feed on demand.
I agree with this 100 percent, but I also now see no harm in giving a baby a pacifier once that feeding pattern is developed and working. It is a great way to teach babies to self-sooth which can lead to more sleep for mama.
There are few concerns regarding whether or not to use a pacifier. This includes dental health, nipple confusion, when to start and stop using, and choking hazards. These concerns are all highlighted in-depth on Mom Loves Best.
The short answer is yes, pacifiers can impact the baby’s teeth to have an overbite. But this isn’t an issue if teething hasn’t started yet.
Pacifiers should have air vents so that the baby can breathe the sucking.
And yes, when used early it can cause nipple confusion and cause breastfeeding rejection. So start breast or bottle feeding down first before introducing the pacifier.
Wait until the baby is about one-month-old to start introducing the pacifier.
The following is my original post detailing my mom guilt and getting over it as a first-time mom. I will say that my son didn’t use the pacifier often. I am actually surprised when I see photos of him with one.
It wasn’t used all the time or to become a serious habit or attachment. But mild use did seem to work for us.
Like a Gremlin my newborn turns into a monster in the latter 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. Welcome to the cluster feeding stage.
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 of nutrients. He has regular diapers and was gaining weight consistently. I also both breast and bottle-feed him and on-demand. If he wants to eat, he eats.
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 a pacifier. Ugh, the mom guilt.
And the clouds opened up, the light was shining down on me and all was peaceful in the world—for about 5 minutes.
He adorably sucked, just enough time to get him a fresh onesie 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 spits the sucker out of his mouth, but he laid there content for a few more minutes like the good boy he is.
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 given 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 that my baby, for the most part, is a good baby in the sense that he doesn’t cry a lot. 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 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.
However, once teeth do some in, even these can impact tooth placement.
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 SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), the leading cause of death in babies and 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 it 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 soothe 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 soothe 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.
Here are the benefits of using a pacifier:
- Reduced risk of SIDs during naps and at night
- Self-soothing teach technique
- Helps establish sucking reflex
- Might relieve colic
- Great distraction when the baby is fussy
Things To Know About Pacifier Use:
- Don’t use in the first month to encourage healthy feeding habits
- Best used in babies younger than 6-month-old
- Buy once piece pacifiers to prevent choking risk
- Do no leave string on a pacifier at bedtime to prevent choking
Read all about Pacifier Pros, Cons & Safety Considerations from Mom Loves Best.
Photo: Maria Eklind | Flickr