“ Pacifiers as a tool to comfort or soothe a child come under some debate as to their function and possible abuse or over use.”
Pacifiers can be the difference to some moms between a peaceful plane ride or a plane ride from hell full of stress and dirty looks. They can be a helpful tool in comforting a child as well as a functional way to help wean a child off breast feeding when that time comes. However, pacifiers as a tool to comfort or soothe a child come under some debate as to their function and possible abuse or over use. Some people propose it becomes more about pacifying the parent from the stress and nuisance of an upset or fussy child. These critics believe that offering a plastic pacifier may be stifling the child from expressing his or her discomfort and feelings. I have heard theories amongst the more natural leaning attachment parenting community that a pacifier on a subconscious level may be teaching the child to reach for an external form of comfort rather than to sit with their feelings of discomfort and process them and therefore possibly lead to addictive behavior.
These theories may seem extreme but it is important to think about the function of this item and why you may choose to give it to your child. It is always important to consider what behaviors and habits we are instilling in our children from the youngest of age. Oral stimulation is a baby’s direct information source to the brain. Information from the mouth provides far more information to them than any other form of connection such as hands or sight. Which is why everything gets tested by the very sensitive lips and mouth. It is important to understand the impact of this soothing device and consider all the implications.
Some other things to consider are studies show that babies who are given a pacifier tend to have more middle ear infections than babies who don’t use them. Also, in younger infants, there is the problem of nipple confusion if the baby hasn’t fully gotten the hang of breastfeeding. So experts suggest waiting to introduce a pacifier until they are at least one month of age.
It is a good idea to manage your baby’s pacifier use so that they don’t become too dependent on it in the same way we would with sweets or television or any other form of pleasurable entertainment or treat.