Pacifier, binky, soother…….whatever your call that thing that is in your baby’s mouth, that’s what we are going to talk about today! I want to walk you through the benefits of your baby using a pacifier, how and when to start encouraging your baby to replace it on their own and when to drop it.
What are the benefits?:
First of all, I am a fan of the pacifier! There are two main benefits of your baby using a pacifier. Let’s talk about both and then maybe you will understand my love for the Paci.
1. Reduces SIDS
Many studies have shown that pacifiers help reduce the risk of SIDS. In a study published by the AAP, researchers “recommend that pacifiers be offered to infants as a potential method to reduce the risk of SIDS. The pacifier should be offered to the infant when being placed for all sleep episodes, including daytime naps and nighttime sleeps.” Another study recently found that use of a pacifier during sleep reduced the chances of a baby suffering from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by 90 percent. That’s HUGE!
2. Promotes Non-Nutritive Sucking
There are two types of sucking: Nutritive and Non-Nutritive. Nutritive is when a baby is sucking for milk. During this kind of sucking a baby has to have calories, whether that’s from breastmilk or formula. This need has to be met with milk. Non-Nutritive sucking is when your baby is full but sucking for comfort. This is when the pacifier is very helpful! Sucking is a natural comforting reflex for a baby. Being able to use the pacifier for your baby when they are experiencing non-nutritive sucking can help:
-Healthy dIgestive system (not overloading the babies tummy with milk during non-nutritive sucking)
Now that you know why I love the pacifier so much, let’s talk about how to start building your baby’s independence with the pacifier so you are not constantly having to replace it for them!
How do I encourage pacifier independence?:
The pacifier is a wonderful tool for the reasons I gave above, but it can become an exhausting game of replace the “paci”. That’s why I encourage my clients to play The Paci Game! This is a game I encourage you to start playing with your 5 month old if they use a paci for sleep. It’s a fun game that teaches your baby that they can replace their paci all on their own! Here is how you play:
How do I play The Paci Game?:
-During your baby’s awake time find a space on the floor where your baby can lay or sit up.
-Place 3-4 of their pacifiers on the ground in front of them.
-If your baby touches or picks up the pacifier cheer for them. You can say things such as “good job!”, “yay!”, and/ or clap your hands. We want them to see that their ability to touch or pick up their pacifier on their own is GOOD! Of course if your baby picks up the pacifier and puts it in their own mouth we want to cheer for them! Get excited! Like I said before, we want them to connect the dots to “me picking up my paci and putting it in my mouth is good!”, “I can replace my own pacifier!”, etc.
That’s the game! Simple as that! Like I said, this is a good game to start playing around 5 months old if your baby does take a pacifier. Of course this is the only time I promote you use the pacifier outside of the crib. Once your baby gains the independence to grab their own pacifier keep the pacifier usage within the bars of the crib.
TIP: Lay 3-4 glow in the dark pacifiers in your baby’s crib for sleep. That way they have a better chance of seeing the pacifier and grabbing it themselves.
Gaining this independence is a huge milestone! If your child is struggling to sleep without you having to replace their pacifier all through the night or all throughout their nap times, we can easily start a plan and I can give you the tools and support to help you through the binky dilemma. Speaking of binky dilemma, let’s talk about when the best time is to drop the binky.
When is it time to drop the binky?:
The AAP recommends limiting or stopping pacifier use around 6 months to avoid an increased risk of ear infections, especially if your child is prone to them. But there is no right answer to when the time is best for your baby. It’s true that after 9 months of age your baby will develop an emotional attachment to their binky, making it harder to wean, but most children are emotionally ready between the ages of 2 and 4 years old for the binky drop. Ultimately, when you decide to drop the pacifier is the right time. Let it be when you feel like your baby is ready, not when your friends or family tell you that you should drop it.
That’s all the binky talk for today! I hope you found this information helpful and reassuring! Stay tuned this week to my social media platforms (Facebook/Instagram) for weaning tips for when you are ready to drop the pacifier and a video of how to play The Paci Game! Stay tuned!