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Should I Use a Pacifier and How Do I Wean?

Posted in , , , on 6-19-12

Should I Use a Pacifier and How Do I Wean?

Two common questions I get asked are, “Should I use a pacifier?” and “How do I wean?”. Since these are so closely related, I decided to put the answers in the same post to help you see the “big picture” on the reasoning behind pacifier use and the ideal duration for it.

This is one of those parenting decisions that you should make without outside influences.  You will hear pros and cons on what is best. Over the years medical advice has changed. My advice would be: go by what works best for your baby.

Babies are born with a reflex to suck that is present until they are 3 – 4 months old. In some babies this reflex is very strong; they want to suck around the clock.   Do not introduce a pacifier until breastfeeding is established. Once breastfeeding is going well if your baby still needs to suck, I suggest you help her meet that need.

At around 4 – 6 months your baby’s survival reflux of sucking starts to diminish. Up until then some babies have a strong compulsion to suck, which can be non-nutrient sucking at the breast (sucking for comfort) or a pacifier. As this reflux starts to diminish you can gradually stop offering your baby a pacifier. Your baby may show signs of  weaning naturally around the four month mark, at that time you may start to offer it less and less.

You do need to know when she sucks on her pacifier she gets great pleasure and calmness from it due to the natural hormones released through the process (oxytocin being one of them). If you are going to wean her, she needs to have oxytocin released in other ways.  To do this for her…hug and kiss her more, touch and caress, talk softly and lovingly, sing to her and rock her  – love is the ultimate way to increase her oxytocin levels and make her feel secure.

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