|My oldest, pre-paci weaning|
It has been about 3 months since we broke our two year old from using her pacifier (nicknamed “paci” in our house.) She was 2 years, 9 months old. I refused to have a 3 year old with a pacifier.
Hers was not even a huge issue. She has an amazing vocabulary, speaks very clearly (and adorably, I might add). She only used her paci to sleep and when she was sick. She knew she couldn’t talk with her paci in her mouth and it wasn’t allowed out of her bed. But I still knew it couldn’t go on.
It was a hard first few days. She cried. A lot. We had to bribe her and comfort her and threaten to take away toys but we survived. Naptime is still a huge task and bedtime has its moments but we survived.
You may be wondering, wouldn’t it simply be easier to not introduce the pacifier? I have two more kids to go through this with, of course I would love to avoid the entire scene but is there a benefit to pacifiers? Is there an age that is too old for them? Or too early for them? Should hospitals immediately give them to babies? Should toddlers or preschoolers be walking around with them?
There are many sources that try to answer these questions:
· Kellymom is a site I use regularly to help with my breastfeeding questions. It suggests that pacifiers lead to nipple confusion and less success during breastfeeding because of pacifier use (I did not experience this with any of my three children).
· Earth Mama Angel Baby agrees with the risks above but gives information about the benefits of using pacifiers, specifically by helping reduce the chance of SIDS. This specific benefit according to the site outweighs any risks involved.
· Super Nanny explains that pacifier use in older children will typically lead to an increase in ear infections. My older daughter just recently got her 2nd set of tubes put in. I came across this information once her 1st set of tubes fell out. It did impact our decision to wean her from the paci. It is hard to say though if the surgery or if the lack of pacifier is leading to her feeling better.
· Colgate gives detailed examples of the damage pacifier use can do to an older child’s teeth. Many parents say things like “It’s their baby teeth. They will fall out anyway.” It is important to understand that pacifier use can actually damage the gums under the teeth and cause the child’s adult teeth to grow in misaligned.
For me, the possible reduced risk of SIDS was enough in itself to convince me. Pacifiers were offered to all of my girls almost immediately to help them understand the suckling reflex. With 3 preemies, it was not exactly an option to have the girls go straight to breast like I wanted. Once I was able to breastfeed, it was important for me to not become a human pacifier. Don’t get me wrong, I love nursing and cuddling my daughters but as a working mom (when my oldest was a baby) and now with twins, I have no choice but to need my children to soothe themselves without my boobs.
I do think my almost 3 year old had her pacifier too long. Our original intention was to wean her before her 2nd birthday but for me, it was right in the midst of a complicated pregnancy and she needed the paci for extra comfort when her world was vastly changing. I cringe when I see a toddler trying to talk with a pacifier in their mouth though or even worse, a clearly older child (2-4 years approx.) with one while out at a store or restaurant, especially when the child is perfectly content, showing no distress or need for comfort.
Pacifiers have been in use for decades and are likely not going anywhere. Whatever your choice for pacifier use, it’s important to understand the benefits and risks.
You can contact Heather C. by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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