Sleep training your baby with a pacifier is an important topic for many parents. At the same time, the history of pacifiers is, well, controversial.
Do the pros of using a pacifier outweigh the cons? Do pacifiers help or reduce the effectiveness of your sleep training efforts?
In this post, I’ll discuss the pros and cons of sleep training with a pacifier and dive deep into all the reasons why you should and shouldn’t use a pacifier while sleep training your little one.
Hopefully, it’ll help you decide whether you should consider using this technique in your sleep training efforts or steer clear of it.
Let’s dive in!
Are pacifiers good or bad?
Here’s the thing: millions of parents around the world use pacifiers to help soothe their little ones.
But have you ever thought if these props are actually good for the baby?
It turns out that pacifiers come with plenty of benefits. One of the benefits is that it helps get your baby sleeping better. In fact, pacifier usage has been shown to decrease crying, which leads to an increase in quality sleep and improved moods for both infants and their parents.
Sleep training your baby with a pacifier can also be beneficial if you have twins or another child who is constantly crying at night and waking up the other one who’s usually sleeping like an angel.
However, there are some drawbacks that should be mentioned.
For one, using a pacifier for an extended time can lead to a child developing a negative sleep association. And as we all know, breaking a habit is incredibly challenging and can take weeks of your life.
It’s also possible for babies to become so used to sucking, which can make breastfeeding more difficult later on in life. Studies have shown that when parents use pacifiers too much, their children will suckle less after turning one year of age.
Are pacifiers a bad sleep association?
In short, pacifiers are both a negative and positive sleep association. On the one hand, pacifier use reduces the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) by up to 90%.
It also helps with breastfeeding and can help your baby learn how to fall asleep before he turns one year old.
On the other hand, pacifiers have been associated with early weaning, dental problems, and even interfering with speech development and normal sleep habits.
It all comes down to your baby and their preferences for falling asleep. If giving baby a pacifier helps them to sleep better, it’s okay to use it during sleep training. If not, you can do without it.
Can you leave a pacifier in your baby’s mouth while sleeping?
Yes, letting your baby sleep with a pacifier at night is entirely safe. Leaving a pacifier in his mouth will give him something to suck on and calm down when he wakes up at night. However, many children stop sucking on pacifiers as they get older, which may not be the best long-term solution for all parents. Teaching your baby how to self-soothe on his own is the better approach.
Can you do cry-it-out with a pacifier?
The most crucial step before trying the cry-it-out method is deciding whether you’re going to use a pacifier or not. If you’re going to stick to using a pacifier, choose when you’ll give the binky and stick to that rule. For example, you can use the pacifier to help your little one fall asleep and take it out afterward.
However, keep in mind that getting your baby used to the pacifier comes with a risk. For instance, some babies have no trouble weaning off the pacifier, while others will wake up screaming for it every one or two hours at night. If your child falls into the second category, this means that you’ll be waking up 1,267 times per night until your little one outgrows it.
If your little one is waking up multiple times at night crying for his pacifier, then it’s time for the pacifier to go.
What precautions should be taken if a baby is given a pacifier?
- Make sure that the nipple of the pacifier isn’t too pointy and can be well hidden from sight.
- Use one-piece pacifiers that can’t come apart.
- Opt for a pacifier that is made from natural rubber and other safe materials.
- Avoid tying a pacifier to your child’s crib or around the neck or hand.
- Frequently clean your baby’s pacifier. Until your baby is 6 months old, you should boil pacifiers or run them through the dishwasher. After age 6 months, wash pacifiers with soap and water.
When should you wean your baby off of a pacifier?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends weaning from the pacifier by age 3. Sucking on a pacifier when the child is into his toddler years may lead to dental issues down the line. Some babies self-wean as they get older. Always consult with your pediatrician about what’s best for the child.
How do I wean my baby off the pacifier?
When it comes to weaning your baby off the pacifier, there are two roads you can take: either go slowly or do it overnight.
The fast route involves removing all pacifiers at once. You may expect some crying if your baby has developed a negative sleep association, but it shouldn’t last longer than a few days.
Make it easier on your little one and offer him another comfort toy like a blanket, teddy, or teether. Another idea is to tell the paci fairy story of a fairy who comes into the house to take the pacifiers away so that other babies can use them.
That’s the quicker way.
The slower route involves slowly limiting the use of the pacifier. For instance, if your baby uses the pacifier to fall asleep on every nap and at night, gradually reduce usage to just naps or just nighttime.
Here’s another idea: do your normal bedtime routine and put your baby down in the crib with his pacifier in the mouth. When his sucking slows, you gently break the seal and remove the pacifier before he’s fully asleep.
In case he wakes up and becomes fussy, do some minimal soothing to help him go back to sleep. This can involve gently patting him on the back or jiggling the crib. Just remember that the longer route requires consistency and patience.
In this post, we discussed the most important benefits of using pacifiers and the downsides. We looked at how sleep training your baby with a pacifier works and how it all depends on your baby’s temperament and your personal preferences. Whether you include the pacifier in your sleep training process or not, make sure it goes before your little one celebrates his third birthday.
Thanks for reading!