Monday, February 6, 2017

How Pacifiers Might Be Ruining Your Baby's Sleep

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The pacifier might be ruining your baby's sleep. Sound odd? The pacifier is supposed to help soothe your baby and help her sleep better, right? How can it possibly be ruining it?

It is quite simple. Your little baby falls asleep with the aid of sucking on the pacifier. Once she falls asleep, the pacifier eventually pops out of her mouth.

Every 45ish minutes, a sleep transition happens. This is when the body moves from one type of sleep to the next. The body basically wakes up, or almost does, and slips into the next sleep state.

This transition moment is where your troubles can come. If your child wakes up enough, but doesn't have the pacifier in the mouth, then your child will not be able to fall back asleep into the next sleep cycle. Your child is only able to fall asleep with the pacifier in the mouth, so she just comes to be fully awake.

This is most commonly an issue right around 3/4 months old and continues to be one until your child can find the pacifier and reinsert it, which typically happens around 6-8 months old.

So what are your options?

  1. Wean from pacifier--that means stop using it.
  2. Wait for your baby to be old enough to find the pacifier. Until then, you go in and reinsert.
  3. Try for a middle ground between one and two.
Most parents who say the pacifier did not interfere with sleep report that they do not play the reinsert game. They give the child the pacifier initially. If it falls out, they might reinsert one time. After that, no more reinserting (for that nap). This is a combo pacifier use/cry it out approach. 

The solution you choose is totally up to you. This is your call based on what you think your child can handle and what you want to work toward. 

If you wean from the pacifier, you are likely in for some cry it out. The plus side would be that you will result in a baby who can fall asleep and stay asleep unassisted, which means more sleep for baby and you. The down side is cry it out process is no fun.

If you wait for the baby to be old enough to find and reinsert the pacifier, your upside is no sleep training process. The down side is that you are in for several more  months of waking in the night and having short naps. 

The middle ground allows you to still use the pacifier, which a lot of people like. They want to prevent thumb or finger sucking. It also uses some cry it out, so you should lead to a better sleeper who can sleep with the pacifier but can also sleep independently. 

Decide which pros and which cons you want all around and take action toward that solution. You can always try a different solution later if the first one doesn't work out. 

 When sleep props are okay and when to avoid them

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