The Pacifier: Friend or Foe?

At 3:26 am my wife and I awoke to the sight of Mikaela at the side of our bed.  She informed us, “I can’t find my paci.”  She had probably been sleeping without it for the last five hours, but something led her to stir and now, at 3:26 am, she needs her paci to get back to sleep.

For us, the debate of whether to give a paci, or what type of paci to give, has long passed.  Bettina and I decided going in that our kids, if they wanted one in the beginning, would have pacifiers, but they would not have them once they were “too old”.  We didn’t really know what we meant by “too old”, but it was one of those things that we figured we’d know when we knew.  At this point both girls only use their pacifiers at naptime and bedtime, but they sometimes request it as a comforting aid when hurt or ill.

Pros and Cons of Pacifiers

If you’re still in the debating stage for whether or not to introduce a pacifier I will share my advice and research.  Keep in mind that I’m no expert, but I’m a dad that cares greatly for my kids and would do nothing that I felt could cause them harm.  I think the pacifier is a great tool that, when used properly, can be very helpful when soothing your child.  Some research is even showing that children that use pacifiers are at a lower risk for SIDS, but there is no direct causal link found at this time.

On the other hand, pacifiers can cause some issues.  It’s believed that prolonged pacifier use could lead to an increase in ear infections, and pacifier use could create nipple confusion for the child (there are now studies on both sides of this one).  Lastly, there are some pacifiers that could change mouth shape if used too frequently throughout the day and over a long period of time.

So there’s my little input to your debate, but you are the parent of your children and only you should make these kinds of decisions for your children.

Back to Our Girls

Now it’s just a matter of figuring out how and when to take the pacis away from our little ones.  We feel that Mikaela is ready, but with family in town for the next three weeks we’ve decided to delay the pacifier’s farewell for her until we are back to normal life.  Knowing the end was near, but that we were delaying it I sat down with Mikaela the other day and told her that in one month I was going to take away her pacifier.  She agreed and has since told other people who I was going to do so.  I’m not sure if she actually understands (she does understand a lot for her age), but I’m hoping it will at least lessen the blow some as the time draws closer.  And maybe if I continue a countdown for her it will help her see the end is getting closer.

Our younger daughter, Juliet, is 17 months Mikaela’s junior, so we are torn on her pacifier’s farewell.  It seems that it would be easier for us in the long run—though likely more difficult in the short term—if we were to also take her pacifier away in a month.  But that means that Mikaela was able to use her pacifier 17 months longer than Juliet.  I think we’ll land on taking both at the same time and hope that they form a mini support group for Sisters Grieving the Loss of Paci, but we’ll see how that goes.

The Farewell Tour

These pacifiers, these little round pieces of rubbery material have been in our lives for two and a half years now.  So it doesn’t seem right to simply take the paci from our child’s mouth and throw it into a trash bin full of dirty diapers.  This extra month we have given our daughters will also be an extra month for their pacis to enjoy the world.

They will get to go on one last vacation with us, they will get to rest upon the shelf a few more times, and they will get to ween themselves away from the home they’ve found with our girls.  But rest assured the pacifiers will be evicted in early August, and then we see how withdrawals go …

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