How Pacifiers Might Be Ruining Your Baby’s Sleep

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 downside is cry it out process is no fun.

>>>Read: Weaning from the Pacifier: When, Why, and How

If you wait for the baby to be old enough to find and reinsert the pacifier, your upside is no sleep training process. The downside 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.

Some parents successfully use the pacifier as a sleep tool rather than a prop. Read all about that process here.

Pacifier Tips from the Baby Whisperer

A basic summary of Tracy Hogg’s view of pacifiers is to not let your child get hooked on using it for sleep, but you can use it during wake time if needed and even in the middle of the night to help train baby to sleep through the night.

That is a basic summary. If you are one who wants to use a pacifier but also wants to prevent your child from getting addicted to it, I would recommend reading Hogg’s suggestions.

For that reason, I will list page numbers I found helpful for pacifier use, and you can read her words first hand. This information is found in Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg.

  • Page 126
  • Pages 172-173
  • Page 179-180

One reader said: “My daughter always seem to wake up at 5:30. I leave her in her crib to talk and try and pacify with a pacifier and try and to prolong her to start her day closer to 7.”

 When sleep props are okay and when to avoid them

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