Babies showing signs of problematic attachment to a pacifier may need weaning

Are pacifiers good for babies? This question can be very subjective. For parents, this often seems to be a topic that brings on strong feelings either way. Granted, there are several pros and cons in introducing baby to a pacifier. Many parents are staunch advocates of giving baby a pacifier, while others feel it just as strongly and take a firm position against it.

Realistically though, perhaps the decision or whether or not to use a pacifier should be left . . . to baby! Some babies have a stronger sucking instinct than others and may need that extra sucking stimulation and/or comfort. Other babies find their comfort in different ways, and in these instances it would not make sense to force a pacifier.

If a pacifier is used, however, it is important to understand some unexpected issues may arise as a result of pacifier usage. In the early months, there may come a time when the parent(s) may need to make a decision about whether or not to continue the pacifier. For instance, those children with strong sucking instincts may become dependent on the pacifier in order to sleep, and this is where using this type of soother can become a problem if they cannot sleep without one in their mouth. Babies, like anyone else, will toss and turn, and if the pacifier falls out of the mouth, it is not uncommon to find this will disrupt sleep and baby will wake up frantically crying.

These types of night time awakenings can be persistent and eventually develop into abnormal sleep patterns. Some may even continue beyond the age of two, and at this time parents are also likely to be exhausted with the nightly ritual. By age of two, however, the pacifier has likely become more of a habit rather than a need. The problem is, at this stage of toddler-hood, it becomes more difficult to wean a child away from the pacifier. Being a pacifier offers no benefit at this point, it is likely a good idea to wean a child away from the pacifier before things get to this stage.

Babies that exhibit early signs of problematic attachment to a pacifier may need to be weaned early, but this will be unique to each parent and child. There are definite pros and cons to pacifiers and parents sometimes may need to look beyond the ‘now’ and see the full picture. It is a lot easier to wean a three or six month old baby from a pacifier than it is a two or three year old who is more stubborn and rooted in habit.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with giving baby a pacifier as long as it does not interfere with baby’s sleep or other daily routines. It is also important to be aware of the pacifier’s effects on baby’s sleep, because if the pacifier becomes a source of interruption, this may set the conditions for long term poor sleep habits. Additionally, a restless and sleep deprived baby leads to an unhappy baby, and worn out parents, which is unhealthy for all.