Monday, February 22, 2010


The hot topic around oir house these days is whether to offer Miss M a pacifier. T. thinks we should've introduced it weeks ago. I wargued for waiting until breastfeeding was well established, secretly hoping that she would simply start sucking her thumb, and we'd never get there. Unfortunately, she hasn't miraculously started sucking her thumb. There is, however, an increasing desire by Miss M to sooth herself by sucking...on me. Frankly, my nipples are tired, and it would be nice to put her down once in a while. It's become clear that she likes having something to just suck on.

T. has advocated for the pacifier from the very beginning. He thinks he needs a tool in his baby-whispering arsenal for when she's crying, but well-fed and clean-diapered and burped and warm. He argues that I have the power of The Boobs, but he has nothing (I'm not pumping yet, which is a whoele other post). He has urged me to "just" sanitize them so they are ready "just in case."

My mom thinks a pacifier is preferable to the thumb. She tossed my pacifier at the end of the first year. My brother, a thumb-sucker, was harder to break of the habit, she lamented. He was five before she could convince him not to thumb-suck (although I don't know why she was so anxious to break him of this habit. Is it bad for teeth?). I will say that I have perfectly straight teeth, and my brother's are not. Could it be the paci vs. the thumb?

I don't know why I'm so opposed to it. I think it's the idea of havng to add something that we always have to ensure is around (thumbs are emminently portable, and never roll away under the seat while you're in traffic). It's one more thing to sterilize. Perhaps most importantly, it can get in the way of a baby expressing hunger cues. I rely on those for feedings. How will I know when to feed her? It's funny-I have them on hand because I always thought I'd use them. But now that she's here, I feel differently about them.

I did break down tonight and sterilize two A.vent orthodontics. "Just in case.". I'm not sure what I'll decide to do.


VA Blondie said...

This is something I have been thinking about, too. Our baby will not take a pacifier, despite our efforts. He will suck on his fingers and hand, though. My mother is the opposite of your mother. She thinks that he should suck on his fingers rather than a pacifier. I am willing to let it happen and not force the issue. It does help that I have pumped some, and have some breastmilk to offer when I leave him for a while and need a break. And I know that he can take a bottle, which makes it easier to leave him.

I wish you the best. I wish I had more of a solution for you.

TXmom said...

I have just a comment about the hunger question and if a pacifier masks it. I always found that a hungry baby knows right away that the pacifier doesn't give milk and spits it right out and cries for milk. Just my experience. - good luck w/what you decide!

Rebeccah said...

We wouldn't have made it through the last year without the pacifiers. I was very very against the idea at first, but it was such a help in soothing the baby (and our baby needed so much soothing) that it became an essential tool in our arsenal. Yes, it's a royal pain making sure you have plenty on hand (because they disappear) but the benefit is that when you want to break them of it, you just toss the darn things. Squeaker is 14 months old now and only uses the paci at night, and then only to go to sleep. Once he's asleep, he spits it out. I expect we'll be over the habit completely in the next few months.

Thumb sucking is a more difficult habit to break for the exact reason you stated -- it's attached to their arm. My brothers each sucked their thumbs until they were 7 or 8 (they only stopped because of peer pressure), and my youngest brother almost had to have braces because the force of his thumb was pushing his adult teeth around.

On the other hand, if the baby doesn't want a paci, then I wouldn't force it. Best of luck either way!

Eva said...

I experienced with my first child that it can happen when you do not introduce pacifiers/bottles early enough, they will not learn to handle them (in our case my son really disliked the bottle and first learned to drink from a glass! with 5 months when I went back to work and then finally from a bottle with 10 months).

So I took the advice of a pediatrician and introduced both the bottle with expressed milk and the pacifier with my second child after six weeks (to avoid confusion with breastfeeding) but before 8 weeks (which I was told would be good because after 8 weeks they sometimes stop to suck on anything unknown and it can be very hard to start anything new). And it can take a while/days/weeks until it works, so if you want to introduce a pacifier it can take some practising!

I did not like the bottle/pacifier concept, but with hindsight - both are great tools, they allow other caregivers to take over, it makes going back to work easier etc. Never a problem with not realizing hunger. In contrast - for learning to sleep through the night it is much better to have a method of soothing that does not involve mommy/breastfeeding/milk by bottle.

I think the timing is important and I would have somebody else introduce it. And baby will show if it something she likes or if the whole pacifier question is not interesting to her…

Heather said...

I will say I wish our daughter didn't suck her thumb. She's 9 years old now and will need braces for how much damage she's done. Both the boys loved their pacis, but they've both given them up at 9 months old. Tommy does like his thumb, but I won't let him suck it when he's bored, only in his crib. Liam sucks his first two fingers only when he's in his crib too, so I think we're doing OK for now. I hope they don't end up with a bad habit.

ryanandjoesmom said...

Our little guy is a thumb sucker, but started with a pacifier so my boobs could get a break. He found his thumb at about 4 months and I'm hoping he will give it up before graduation. I say give yourself a break and pop the paci in every once in a while.