To Pacify or not to Pacify..that is the question…

Pacify- verb.1. to bring or restore to a state of peace or tranquillity; quiet; calm:

There are many ways to calm or quiet your baby, and giving your baby a pacifier is one option. There are many issues to consider on this topic. In this post, I hope to share some of my experiences with the pacifier and some pros and cons for you to consider when making the decision in your own family.
Often a pacifier is introduced too early and this can cause breastfeeding problems. If you decide to use a pacifier, please wait until your breastfeeding relationship has been well established. Nipple confusion can be an issue for some babies when an artificial nipple is introduced too early. Realize a pacifier could also affect a mother’s milk supply. If you are struggling with a low milk supply you should hold off on using a pacifier. Milk supply is an issue of supply and demand in most cases. So when you introduce a pacifier, a baby is taken away from the breast, and not stimulating prolactin. A mother may think she’s not producing enough milk when really the pacifier may be interfering with her milk production. When in the hospital you can make your own signs saying, “breastfeeding- no pacifiers”. This encourages regular nursing at the breast and puts breastfeeding off to a good start.
In our society, we often find pacifiers used without thought. Small babies and toddlers alike walk around in a dazed state sucking on their pacifiers. Parents need to use caution to make sure that they are still paying attention to their infant’s feeding cues and emotional needs. There has also been some research showing that prolonged use of pacifiers can be connected with ear infections and tooth malformation. There can be some benefits to using a pacifier for short times of separation, or on a long car ride to keep the peace.
If choosing to use a pacifier, there are a few things to consider when purchasing one. Babies can develop a latex allergy from using a latex pacifier. Silicone is another option for you to consider. There is some concern about chemicals leaching from silicone, so do your research. Beware that there have been many pacifiers recalled and children have died from choking on a pacifier. Never tie the pacifier around your babies neck as this can pose hazardous as well. There are also different sizes and shapes that are more effective for your babies age and oral development.
These are just a few points to consider when deciding whether or not to introduce a pacifier to your baby. With Big Sister and Little Brother, we didn’t use a pacifier. Little Brother sucked his thumb until around 6 months, then lost interest. There were times when I think a pacifier would have been an easy solution, but we managed to find some other strategies that worked. Mostly this involved nursing on demand and meeting their needs that way. With Bella, our middle daughter, we did use a pacifier. She was tube fed, and still had a strong sucking need, so a pacifier was a good solution. It was a great comfort to her though I did find it nerve racking at times to keep up with it and keep it clean. For Bella, sucking and eating were not connected so our circumstances were different than most. Sucking is an intense need for infants, it provides them comfort and security. When considering how to bring tranquility and calm to your baby, I encourage you to look at their needs and see what works best for them.