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I haven’t used pacifiers with either of my children. I have viewed it as a sleep prop that the child can’t control for a long time, so I don’t do it.
An article I have read discusses the use of a pacifier and strategies for dealing with the use of it if you choose to use it. As it states, “Also remember, using the pacifier is neither a right nor wrong issue; often it comes down to preference and what each parent is able to handle regarding the issue of baby’s cry.”
I do want to offer a word of caution about pacifiers. Many moms find pacifiers become a disruption at some point in their young babies lives. They find themselves waking up often to reinsert the pacifier. They find naps are cut short and baby won’t sleep without mom reinserting it. For some moms, this is fine. No problem. For others, this has caused them to reevaluate and then drop the use of a pacifier. Most babies can’t reinsert the pacifier until he is around 8 months old (some younger, some older).
A few months ago, I did a survey about pacifier use to see what the effects were, if any. Through it, I learned a good strategy. Many moms who used the pacifier without negative effects wouldn’t reinsert it over and over. They would do it once or twice, but no more. Then the baby did CIO. In that case, the baby was learning to self-soothe without the use of a pacifier.
If you use a pacifier and are experiencing sleep troubles, evaluate if it is the culprit. If it is, then decide what you want to do about it. Again, the article on growingkids.org is excellent. It will give you several good ideas. If you want to use a pacifier, by all means, do it. I link the article to help those experiencing troubles associated with the pacifier and also to help those using a pacifier to avoid troubles.
Here is my report on my survey:
An informal survey was taken on the effects of pacifier (paci) use and Babywise babies. Here are the results of that survey:
There were 26 responders
- 17 (65%) do not currently use paci
- 9 (35%) do currently use paci
- 14 (54%) of those surveyed have nap problems
- 9 (53%) of those who do not use a paci have nap problems (note that since the survey, two of these yeses have changed to nos, so that changes the statistic to 7 (41%)
- 5 (56%) of those who do use a paci have nap problems
- 5 (19%) of those surveyed are experiencing night problems
- 1 (.06%) of those who do not use a paci have night problems
- 4 (44%) of those who do use a paci have night problems
Points of Interest
- One baby who uses a pacifier with no sleep issues was mentioned to be 8 months old. This baby was able to reinsert paci herself without the help of mom, so it was not considered a problem.
- Another baby who uses a pacifier with no nap issues was said to need reinsertion of paci during nap. While this mom considered this to not be a sleep issue, I would consider it to be. This same baby was said to have night issues, so I suspect the reinsertion is needed at night, also, and the mom finds this to be a problem.
- A third baby who uses a pacifier with no sleep issues doesn’t get paci back during sleep. Mom said she doesn’t reinsert it. This could possibly be a factor in why baby doesn’t have sleep issues.
- As mentioned above, two moms with babies who don’t use pacifiers with nap issues have had nap improvements since answering this study. It is unknown for sure how many others (from either side) could have had changes since answering.
A rough conclusion would be that whether or not a paci is use, about half of babies experience nap problems, though the numbers are lower in those who do not use pacis. With night time sleep, there is a significant difference between those who use pacis and those who do not. Less than one percent of non-paci users have night problems. Nearly half of pacis users have night issues.
It is my conclusion that pacifiers do interfere with sleep. I think nap issues will arise throughout the first year no matter what. That can be seen with the results of this survey. It is my conclusion that a “paci baby” will wake in search of a paci, and therefore experience nighttime difficulties. A nap can simply be short enough to not experience that problem.
There are several limitations to this study. The age of the baby was not taken into account at all. Also, there was no definition of sleep issues, that was left to the interpretation of the respondent. Another problem is that there were not even answers from each side (paci and no paci). There were more people (nearly twice as many) who don’t use paci as those who do. However, this can be a strength to the nighttime sleep conclusion. If you take it against total number of responses rather than number in their category, .04% of had night issues who don’t use a paci vs. .15% of responders who do, and there were twice as many who answered who don’t use it and therefore more opportunity to have problems. Finally (but not lastly), there are so many possible factors affecting sleep that is a fallacy to assume a pacifier is the only variable.
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