To use a pacifier or not to, THAT is the question

One of the most regularly asked questions on any baby website (and also often one of the most heated debate topics at baby groups) is “Should I use a pacifier for my baby?”

Personally for S, I used a pacifier. Members of my family sucked their thumb for far too long and the way I saw it was its easier to break them away from a paci than from their thumb (attached to their body!!). Also, S had reflux when he was very young and I found the paci helped. Do I regret it? Not at the moment. There were a few months I did alittle. He’d wake constantly and need it popped back in and when you’re as sleep deprived as I was, it becomes the bain of your existance! And I’m not a “cry it out” mom so there was no just taking it away. I succumbed to the idea that I’d have to wait till hes atleast 18 months before I try and “explain” to him that he no longer needs his paci.

But I’m all for looking at both sides of the coin so here are 5 positives and negatives about a pacifier, in my opinion:


1. When you have a child with reflux the sucking action def. helps. Babies have an innate desire to suck, they do it even in the womb. Having a pacifier can often provide them comfort and reduce irritability.

2. Sleep association (actually both positive and negative) – My son only has his paci when he’s sleeping. He now associates it with sleep and as we’re finally out of the stage where he constantly needs it popped back in, when he gets his paci, he knows, it’s sleepy time.

3. Lowers the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) which is the unexplained death of a baby under 1. Although its debatable how exactly this is, I think as babies with pacifiers don’t sleep as deeply as those without, they are able to move out of unsafe sleep positions more easily.

4.  Breaking your child off their pacifier habit is ALOT easier than breaking their habit of sucking their thumb (trust me I’ve seen first hand what some parents will resort to to break the thumb habit!).

5. Pacifiers can act as temporary distractions. They are great on flights if its not feeding time during take off and landing. Babies are unable to “pop” their ears themselves and sucking on something helps relieve the air pressure. Pacifiers also work well when getting vaccinations, blood tests, etc.


1. Sleep Association – While this worked for us because my son now knows pacifier=sleep time, it can be negative when the child is unable to sleep without it. So you have to always make sure you have one on you. I once took S out when he was about 4 months told and I forgot his pacifier. He was overtired and there was no way of getting him to sleep without one. I had to find a department store, buy a pacifier, “sanitise” it in boiling water (which I got from Starbucks)  and only then he managed to fall alseep. Not easy!

2. Early use of a pacifier might interfere with breastfeeding. Sucking on a breast and sucking on a pacifier or even a bottle are very different and some babies are sensitive to that.

3. Prolonged pacifier use may lead to dental problems. We’re talking about kids who just walk around with a pacifier in their mouth constantly or have a pacifier at the age of 5. I don’t get that. We were in Taipei last month at a playroom and several 20+ month olds were walking around with paci’s in their mouths. They weren’t upset, they certainly weren’t sleeping, they were playing but with this rubber thing in their mouths the whole time!! I don’t understand why a parent would allow that BUT each to their own.

4. Pacifiers increase the risk of middle ear infections. Although this is marginal, its still a negative in the debate of pacifiers vs. no pacifier.

5. It doesn’t allow your baby to learn how to self soothe. The one thing most parents pray for in the early months is that your baby will wake and be able to settle themselves back to sleep. Using a pacifier often doesn’t allow them to learn because they start to expect you to pop it back in and that becomes their soother.

So what do you think? Did you use a pacifier for your child? Were you happy or did you wish you never had?

One thought on “To use a pacifier or not to, THAT is the question

  1. Pingback: How do you get rid of a pacifier/dummy? |

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