Dear Kristin (advice on pacifiers):

Dear Kristin!

I am here to tell you all about pacifiers!

First, some unsolicited advice:

Everyone has an opinion.  EVERYONE will have an opinion about your parenting and your baby and your relationship and your choices, and inevitably they will think you’re doing it wrong.  You aren’t.  You are just doing it differently from them.  You, your daughter, your family are all different from everyone else’s situation and they need to shut up.  A good Southern ‘bless your heart’ needs to be firmly in your arsenal.  So does ‘Piss off’, but only if you’re feeling particularly British and will say it with an accent.

OK, so, pacifiers, with the understanding that this is what worked for me, and what I’ve found, and my opinions.  Take what works for you and leave the rest.  🙂

In my experience (four c-sections), my babies all were born tired.  None of them wanted to eat the first day they were born.  They just wanted to sleep.  I did not give them a pacifier (Oliver being the exception because he was in the NICU and I don’t know what they gave him because I couldn’t get up to go see him).

On the first night/ second day, they started really breastfeeding, and it’s awkward and it’s uncomfortable and it’s beautiful and it’s weird and it’s hard.  You will be learning how to shove your nipple all the way down your baby’s throat, she will be learning how to not gag but still eat.  At first, you will not produce milk, but colostrum, which is the absolute best thing for babies.  Whatever the hospital tells you, your body knows that the baby was born and your body knows that your baby was born full, and she will eat when she’s hungry, and your body will give her what she needs, even if it doesn’t seem like enough.  They really only need a couple of drops of colostrum every couple-to-few hours, or whatever your body makes for you baby.

My worry with offering pacifiers at first was always that it would cause nipple confusion.  My goal was always to wait until breastfeeding was established, especially because when Oliver was in the NICU and they were putting who knows what into his mouth, we then had six months of intense pain during breastfeeding.  (I think that is partially due to a possible lip tie that was not ever looked for and my Raynaud’s syndrome that I didn’t find out about until later.)  So, when Hazel was born, I didn’t give her a pacifier in the hospital.

The second night in the hospital, Hazel wanted to nurse all. night. long.  ALL. NIGHT. LONG.  I was in the hospital alone with this tiny parasite who only wanted to suckle.  In letting her suckle all night, I destroyed my nipples, which led to more pain when I got home.

Same thing with Henry.  (I’m apparently a slow learner.)

With Fitz, on that second, hungry night, I held him almost all night long, and breastfed him every two hours or so.  But I gave him a pacifier when he stopped breastfeeding and he fell asleep that way (and I did too).  He was the only baby for whom I did not ever have any breastfeeding pain (but, to be fair, Henry had only stopped nursing a few months before Fitz started, so that might have played a part in it too).

We gave all of our kids pacifiers when they came home.  Babies like to suck on things; it brings them comfort.  They cannot constantly be sucking on my boobs because I have other stuff to do.  I’d love to be a mother in some stock photo gazing adoringly at my newborn constantly, but there’s all this life that happens that demands me to look away.

Oliver and Henry were never that into their pacifiers.  Oliver would use his to fall asleep, lose it, and generally not care.  Transitioning him away from it when he was old was a non-issue because it wasn’t his THING.  Same for Henry.  It was a useful tool, but not his special lovey.

Hazel was another story.  Hazel loved her pacifier.  When she could talk, she called it her “Fada” (pacifada).  It helped her sleep (like a sweet dream) as an infant.

Fitz also loves his Fada.  Ideally, he would like to have two or three in bed with him at night, and he will rotate them to see which is the best before settling on one (seriously–it’s pretty adorable).

So, yes, we use pacifiers.  The pros are that your baby will sleep, and that your baby can have something besides you to comfort her.  That’s huge.  HUGE.  The cons are that some babies don’t love giving them up.  They drop them (throw them) and you have to go find them.  Some people worry about how pacifiers affect speech and a possibility for dental issues.  And I think other people worry about how it affects breastfeeding.

Regarding the cons:

  1. Some babies don’t love giving them up.  When Hazel was 2, we started saying she could only have it in bed.  If she wanted it, she had to get into bed.  (That sometimes led to voluntarily early bedtimes for Hazel.)  When she was about two and a half, we told her she had to give them up.  She really didn’t want to.  I took her to Toys R Us and told her to pick out whatever stuffed animal she wanted that we would name Fada, to become her new comfort object, and I told her we would have to throw away all of the fadas in the house because she wasn’t a baby anymore.  She picked out a horrific, giant stuffed gerbil with a skirt which she immediately hated because it was the reason she had no fadas anymore.  There were a couple of hard nights.  I would infinitely trade a couple of hard nights with a toddler (which, let’s face it, you’re likely to get by virtue of having a toddler) in order to have a few hours of peace with a baby who only wants to suck on the boobs that you’re pretty sure may never look normal again (don’t worry, they will).  I anticipate that I will have to go through something similiar with Fitz, but we aren’t there yet.  :D2.  They drop them/throw them.  They just do.  They throw them, then they cry because they don’t have them.  Yay for experiments and learning and object permanence and the chance to do some extra squats.  I can’t fix this problem, except that if it isn’t their pacifier, they’ll be throwing something because, science.

    3.  Speech.  Babies don’t talk.  And when they do start speaking, you can avoid speech problems (related to pacifiers) by telling them to take that junk out of their mouth to talk.  Restricting it to bed helps (although some kids (like, say, Hazel and Fitz) are sneaky and go get them and ferret them away, but then they are taking a hit from their drug of choice and not trying to talk to you anyway).  But, just like I don’t let my kids talk with a mouth full of food, or a mouth full of a sippy cup or fingers, I don’t let them talk with a mouth full of pacifier.  Out of all my kids, the one who has the most speech issues (that I can see, anyway) is Henry (who still doesn’t bother to say his Rs or Ls), and he wasn’t a fada-addict at all.  Some kids have speech issues.  Others don’t.  I don’t know that pacifiers really make that much difference.

    4.  Dental issues.  My kids have had multiple pediatric dentists and none have been concerned about pacifiers.  They are much more concerned with bottles of milk or formula in bed, and about not brushing their gums after breastfeeding before sleeping.  I do not personally wake up my sleeping infant to wipe their gums.  They can have some freaking cavities if they will JUST. SLEEP.

    5.   Breastfeeding.  I nursed Oliver for 15 months, and he stopped on his own.  I nursed Hazel for 18 months. I nursed Henry for 22 months.  And Fitz is still nursing at almost 18 months with no end in sight.  I really think that if you offer the breast before the pacifier to your newborn, it won’t affect breastfeeding.  I do think that Oliver had nipple confusion as a baby, but I think that was also due to the other nonsense we had with him being given formula and bottles and just the level of unprepared that I was for breastfeeding and what it should be like.  Being apart from him at first for days was hard, and I did not have supportive nurses in the hospital.

So, in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with pacifiers.  I will admit that when I see kids that are Henry’s age out and about with pacifiers in their mouths, I have a hard time not starting to feel judgmental, but I try to remind myself that I do not know their situation.  Some people just judge.  But I promise you they will judge you no matter what you do, and you will never please the illusive them, so you should just do what’s right for you guys and feel comfortable in your decisions because let’s face it–you probably think they’re doing it wrong. 😀

So, that brings up the obvious next question:  Which kind of pacifier is best?

The hospital will often give you this kind:

That was the kind we continued using with Hazel until we traded them for a creepy gerbil.

I think we used that kind with Henry the whole time too.

We started using those with Fitz, but at some point we got these instead:

We didn’t switch for any particular reason that I remember (probably the fadas all went missing and that was all we could find at the grocery store).  That’s the kind he uses now.

I don’t think the type matters; some kids are pickier about their type than others.  Personally, I don’t like the type of pacifier that looks like it’s too small for a baby’s face and leaves marks on their face from being too small.  I don’t care how cute the design is, it’s not a good look for a baby.  Obviously that’s my personal, judgmental opinion.

Tips and tricks for pacifier use:

  1. Babies need to learn to use a pacifier.  They are born pretty dumb–they can eat and breathe and poop and that’s about it.  And they don’t do any of it well.  So, they have this strong sucking instinct but no instinct for keeping the pacifier in.  You might have to hold it in for them until they learn how hard to suck to keep it in themselves.  This is normal and doesn’t mean you’re plugging up your baby (well, it does, but not in a negative way).
  2. There are all these things they make to help your baby fail at throwing it.  My sister uses a clip for her pacifier (it clips the pacifier to the clothes so when spit out, it stays attached.).  I was never a competent enough human to figure it out.  You are probably more competent than I am, and this could be huge.  There are also stuffed animals with a pacifier attached (I believe they are called wubanubs).  They are great, but I found them to be heavy for my kids.  Great for baby wearing (snuggling with a baby AND a stuffed animal?  Fine by me!), but I really wasn’t competent enough to use that either.
  3. They will get lost.  Somehow, when your baby is screaming you know you have 19 pacifiers somewhere in the house, they will ALL. BE. MISSING.  You can look, or you can send Sean to the store to buy more.  One day, it will be like they all reproduced and they will all turn up in the same weird, inexplicable corner.  Until you need them, and they will ALL. BE. MISSING.  I do not understand this phenomenon, but it happens.  Especially the Soothies–they roll AND they are translucent (read: impossible to see in the dark).

I hope this helps!  😀  And if you have more questions about pacifiers, I may have answers.  And if you have any questions about anything, I’m here!

Dear reader,

Are you wondering why this obviously-an-email post is posted here instead of sent privately to someone, maybe someone named Kristin?  I did send it just to her, but she thought it was funny.  And since I’m narcissistic enough to want everyone to think I’m funny, I’m posting it here too.  She might have more questions (She’s going to have her first baby soon!  And I get to be an aunt again!!!!), and if I continue to be funny, I will continue to publish my responses.