- Pregnancy & Childbirth
- Attachment Parenting
- Family Nutrition
- Family Wellness
Babies have an intense need to suck, and some have more intense needs than others. Babies even suck their thumbs in the womb. Next to holding and feeding, sucking is the most time-tested comforter.
1. In the newborn nursery. Peer through any newborn nursery window and you're sure to witness contented babies lying quietly in plastic boxes all plugged in with no place to go. Pull the plug on this scene. These babies should be plugged into their mothers.
2. In the early weeks of breastfeeding. When learning how to breastfeed, a baby should have only mother's nipple in his mouth. About the only thing a newborn has to "learn" is how to suck on mother's nipple the right way to get the most milk.
3. When pacifier overuse is harming the teeth. Between two and three years of age, toddlers can cause their upper front teeth to protrude by sucking intensely on a pacifier, especially at night.
4. As habitual substitutes for nurturing. Ideally, pacifiers are for the comfort of babies, not the convenience of parents (but I have yet to meet the ideal parent or the ideal baby and, believe it or not, you probably won't meet any on this site.) To insert the plug and leave baby in the plastic infant seat every time he cries is unhealthy reliance on an artificial comforter. This baby needs picking up and holding. Always relying on an alternative peacemaker lessens the buildup of baby's trust in the parents and denies the parents a chance to develop baby-comforting skills. Pacifiers are meant to satisfy intense sucking needs, not to delay or replace nurturing. A person should always be at the other end of a comforting tool. The breast (or the finger) has the built-in advantage of making sure you don't fall into the habit of just plugging up the source of the cries as a mechanical gesture. When baby cries, if you find yourself, by reflex, reaching for the pacifier instead of reaching for your baby, pull the plug – and lose it.