Binkys. Pacis. Dummiesopens a new window. Soothers. Nuks. No matter what you call them, pacifiers can be lifesavers during baby's early months. But how do you know when to help your little one say goodbye?
The great thing about pacifiers is their ability to satisfy a baby's natural reflex to soothe through suckingopens a new window. The enormous plus side to their use is they are an instrumental part of your baby's safety during their most vulnerable time: sleeping. They're also a more attractive option (to a parent) than a thumb, since you can take away a pacifier.
Down the road, though, they can cause bumps in a child's development. Dental problems and possible speech impairments, just like thumb sucking, are two of the main issues associated with prolonged use of pacifiers.
So what's a parent to do? Below are resources to help make the decision that's best for your family.
The American Academy of Pediatrics' blog, Healthy Childrenopens a new window, has practical tips for deciding whether or not to use a pacifier with your baby. The AAP states using a pacifier during sleep times will decrease the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndromeopens a new window, as long as the paci is not attached to your baby's clothing.
For new parents, explore the ins and outs of babies and pacifiers with Bundooopens a new window.
Parentsopens a new window has a comprehensive FAQ about pacifiers for all ages, including how to pick a safe paci, how to introduce one and when to give it up.
Hear from a speech pathologist at Playing with Words 365opens a new window who judged pacifiers…until she had her own child.
The Happiest Babyopens a new window uses one of my favorite pieces of advice: your baby will not go to college with a pacifier. They're all about helping your child to give up the binky when they are ready.
Wondering about the dos and don'ts of pacifiers? Need breakup ideas? Aa to Zzopens a new window has several different methods of letting the pacifier go, depending on your parenting style and needs. They advocate for lots of gentleness and understanding.
Washington Parentopens a new window has brilliant child-led ways of ushering paci out the door. My favorites are sewing it up inside a Build-a-Bear or "donating" them to a new parent.
And if humor is your best medicine, check out Scary Mommyopens a new window's take.
The common thread through all of these is that it's so. hard. on a child when they're asked to give up something that makes them feel safe. And of course, it's not easy for you, either. Parenting is a series of experiments, finding what works for your family.