Anything that helps your newborn sleep through the night is something worth exploring. For many tired parents, the pacifier is helpful to keep your young one asleep, allowing you to find some rest of your own. But there comes a time when you can no longer rely on its magical powers. Learn how long your baby should use a pacifier and the tips for weaning them off it for the best results.
The Purpose of a Pacifier
A pacifier can be a lifesaver for parents during the first few months of parenthood. Even when newborns aren’t hungry, they may want to suckle on something to settle down. Often, that will be their mother’s nipple if that is their food source.
They take to a pacifier so well because it simulates the nipple and soothes them. But pacifiers come with added benefits that go beyond comforting a fussy baby. Pacis can aid premature babies in acclimating themselves to the bottle. Tube-fed newborns may not be too keen on a bottle initially, but pacifiers can bridge that gap. Most importantly, pacifiers can prevent SIDS by keeping the tongue in a spot that doesn’t block the baby’s airway.
When To Begin Using a Pacifier
Because a newborn’s brain is constantly developing and understanding how this life outside the womb works, it’s wise to hold off on the pacifier until a nursing routine develops.
The Mayo Clinic recommends waiting nearly a month before you offer your little one a pacifier. Some medical opinions feel pacifier use could deter a newborn’s interest in feeding, while others find no correlation.
The Window of Pacifier Usage
Ideally, you should begin the weaning process as the baby approaches their first birthday, although teething could throw a wrench in that plan. Your child’s pediatrician may have other ideas, but the one-year mark is generally the best time. If you continue to give your toddler a binky, there is a slight uptick in potential ear infections and tooth misalignment.
Three years should be the worst-case scenario for a cutoff point between your child and their pacifier. Hopefully, they wean themselves off it during that time, but the odds are if you wait that long, you will be in for a battle.
Tips for the Weaning Process
A child who’s reliant on a pacifier to calm down or make themselves fall asleep will, at the outset, fight to have one in their possession. But there are some helpful tips you can try to make the weaning process easier for both of you.
You don’t want to stop cold turkey and hope your child realizes their pacifier days are over. They won’t understand why it’s gone and will react accordingly. Instead, try taking away the pacifier slowly. If they use one for their daytime nap and overnight, try cutting out one of those times. Doing so will help them fall asleep without one, making the transition smoother.
How long your baby should use a pacifier doesn’t have a concrete answer because every situation is different. But at least you know the most widespread answer is between one and three years old to wean them off one.
Until then, if you want to keep track of your numerous pacifiers, Bunnies by the Bay has an adorable stuffed animal pacifier holder for you! Your child gets something cuddly to hold, and you have something to store them in so you’re not losing them or stepping on them throughout the house. Please join our mailing list for a special discount on your first order!