weaning off the pacifier

Amy - posted on 02/03/2014 ( 3 moms have responded )

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I am trying to teach my 4 month old to fall asleep without his pacifier. He's never been SUPER dependent on it to fall asleep, but sometimes it works much better and quicker than having to stand over him and pat and shush him back to sleep or to just get him to go right to sleep for a nap. However, I want to stop using it all together because I am worried he's going to get too dependent on it...he's already 4 months and he seems to still want it. Isn't this pretty old to be 'needing' his pacifier still? Maybe he just wants it because it's comforting, not because he REALLY needs it?? For example, right now he is is in his crib for a nap (I know he is tired) but when I put him down I did not give him his pacifier (which I've been trying to avoid doing lately) and he is STILL crying. I went in once to comfort him, but did not give him his pacifier. Should I give in and give him his pacifier? I'm telling you, if I give him the pacifier he will be out like a light in less than a minute. But he's gotta stop being so dependent on it to fall asleep, don't you think??? What should I do from here on out? Should I stop giving him the pacifier and just let him cry it out for naps and at nighttime or if he seems to need/want it, should I give it to him anyways even though I'm trying to get him away from needing it??? Please help.

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Chet - posted on 02/03/2014

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I don't know why. A lot of people hate to see babies and young children with pacifiers. It is your choice if you want to ditch the pacifier. People had babies long before pacifiers were invented.

There are legitimate ways that pacifiers can cause problems. They can interfere with breastfeeding and weight gain if the baby is sucking on the pacifier when they need to be nursing. In toddlers they can interfere with expressive language development if the toddler would rather have a pacifier in their mouth than talk. Right now though, the pacifier seems to help your baby a lot. Good sleep is really important.

Now, I also don't think it's horrible for a 12 month old to have a pacifier either. Some kids still gain a lot of comfort from sucking at that age. The truth is, most babies and toddlers do give up their pacifier on their own or with very minimal effort on the part of their parents, and if you have a 2.5 or 3 year old who still has one children that age are easier to "reason" with than a baby or young toddler. You can often convince them to trade their pacifier for something else, send their pacifier to a new baby, etc.

I don't think you're at risk of raising a pacifier junkie if you're only giving him the pacifier to fall asleep. It's not the same as him having the pacifier in his month every minute of the day.

Another other thing to consider is that chronic pacifier use (on the off chance that you find yourself there) is easier to deal with than chronic thumb sucking.

Amy - posted on 02/03/2014

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Really? 4 months isn't too old to be having a pacifier? You don't think he will become dependent on it? I mean, I don't want him to be 1 year old sucking on a pacifier for goodness sake! I guess I'll just leave it alone for now though and see what happens. Yeah, this mommy knows nothing about good sleep anymore!! :( Thanks for your advice!! :)

Chet - posted on 02/03/2014

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Babies have a very strong suck reflex. Most will give up on the pacifier on their own when they lose that strong desire to suck... usually later than four months.

There are reasons to not give a pacifier. It can interfere with breastfeeding for some moms for example. But honestly, I wouldn't take a pacifier away from a baby purely so they could "learn" to fall asleep without it.

Good sleep is really important. I'd let him have the pacifier if it will allow him to easily get the sleep he needs.

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