Who hasn't passed a night of reinserting their little one's pacifier back into their mouth for the 1000th time? It does get old quite quickly...especially when you were having such a beautiful dream! Read on for some great tips on using them as a sleep association & even when it is time to ditch it!
Pacifiers are great! They help soothe that sucking reflex in the early weeks** AND have been known to help prevent SIDS in the first year of life (Sexton 2009). So many parents also rely on them throughout the night to help stretch their little one's hours (if old enough) or to help soothe after a night feed OR simply because it seems to be the only thing that helps get their little one to sleep.
Pacifiers are great for that nonnutritive sucking reflex in the first 6 months of life!
A pacifier is a great tool to associate with sleep in their first six months to a year of life but we want to try to not make it the only one! I am sure you don't want your five-year-old still needing a pacifier to fall asleep, so a neat way to work this to your advantage is by adding other associations along with the pacifier to help them off into the dream world.
Download my free guide for some ideas: click here!
Are you so done with the night wakes due to pacifier escapes?! Between 6- 8 months, your little one can begin to have the ability to put that pacifier back in their mouth on their own! Use this to your advantage! Some tips:
👌 Work with them during the day with this ability to eliminate the need to help at night.
👶 Place multiple pacifiers around the crib. For the first nights, just guide their hand towards a pacifier to encourage them to do it independently.
😗 Try letting them just reach a drowsy state before removing it so they can fall asleep without it
"Christina, please help. I am up all night because the moment his pacifier falls our or he wakes up, he'll launch it at me and start crying for it. What do I do? Why does he throw it if he wants it?"
This is generally a cry for attention. They know it, you know it - that if that paci hits the floor, mommy or daddy will soon be by their side to give it back. Most of the time, doing the steps listed in the above section & being firm about just giving it to them at the beginning of the night and not for the rest of the night, usually solves the problem. If your child is old enough, you could even hang a little bucket or cup with several in it on the outside of their crib and help them find that for a few nights. If all else fails...read the next section!
Time to Ditch the Dummy
Our first son loved his pacifier..even gave it a special name! It was heartbreaking when it was time to stop. He missed it so much! So when is a good time to get rid of the pacifier? We chose to wean our second son at 1 year and then our third son at 6 months. Our third son could have cared less that it was gone! By the age of 6 months, they are generally able to bring their hands to their mouths...and that is just what he did! He sucked his thumb if he needed to. As a 1 year old, my second son just for the first bedtime without it had a hard time, and then it was as if it didn't exist.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, while stating that it is a great prevention tool for SIDS, also states that you should begin weaning your little one sometime after the first six months. Why you may ask? They have given a list of reasons:
Prevent malocclusion - meaning: preventing the misalignment of their jaws. There is a higher possibility of this occuring with continued use after 2-3 years of age.
Preventing otitis media - meaning. prevent middle ear infections which have been linked to pacifier - both in children under the age of 2 but more so in those over age 2.
Prevent speech and language delays - which derives from prolonged use.
The AAP list seems to highlight that at about 6 months-10 months of age, the "risks begin to outweigh the benefits ... and appear to increase after two years of age." (Sexton 2009) It should also be noted that taking away or limiting the pacifier at such a young age has little to no effect on crying or fussing. Also just to note, at about 4 months of age sucking changes into something they choose to do and no longer a newborn reflex, so their need to suck decreases significantly.
Personally, I think once we took away the pacifiers, we were better able to understand or read our babies' cues. I can definitely say that I became more attuned to my little ones when I wasn't relying on a silicon tool to pop in their mouths when they were fussy. I learned to really see them and read what they needed. There are so many other methods to teach them how to soothe that don't have potentially adverse effects on their well being (and our sleep!) down the line.
Not to mention, if they are up at night throwing their pacis out of bed or begging for it when it falls out, it means they are not sleeping. Is it possible they aren't getting enough sleep as a result of this little tool? Could be!
But my little one is so...attached to it!
As a child grows, this beloved paci becomes a security item, as it did with my eldest son. This is truly the moment it is the hardest to get rid of it. It is something that they have become attached to and rely on (Niemela 2000). So how do you say goodbye without disrupting your little one's sleep you may ask? There are so many sweet ways to part ways! It was actually his choice..he bit the nipple off! Some choose to simply put a hole in the nipple, so sucking isn't gratifying any longer. Others say bye bye by going around the house together to put them in the "bye bye binky bucket". If you need some more ideas..just let me know!
Do you suspect that pacifiers are the reason your little one is waking up at night? Let's set up a time to talk and I can give you some great tips! Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or Book here!
Sexton, S (2009) Risks and Benefits of Pacifiers. Am Fam Physician. 2009 Apr 15;79(8):681-685.
Niemelä M, Pihakari O, Pokka T, Uhari M. Pacifier as a risk factor for acute otitis media: a randomized, controlled trial of parental counseling. Pediatrics. 2000;106(3):483–488.
** If breastfeeding, please follow instructions from a lactation consultant with regards to when you could use a pacifier. It is typically after one-month of successful breastfeeding. However, each child is different!