Your baby was thrust into the world after being cradled and coddled in the womb. It was a wonderful place where all was quiet and warm and their basic needs were met. Now that they’re cold, hungry, and cranky, how can you deprive them of the one thing that always brings them comfort?
Pacifier weaning can make you feel like a mean mommy. After all, what harm could a little rubber baby pacifier do? A newborn pacifier is great, but we all know it’s intended to be a short-term solution for fussy little ones.
If this is your first time helping your baby transition to a new comfort item, it can be stressful. As hard as it may seem, it’s worth the effort. But why is weaning so important, and how should you go about it?
If you’re thinking about pacifier weaning in the near future, these tips will help. Read on to learn about the best way to go about replacing the pacifier with the fewest tears – for you and your baby.
The Problems With Pacifiers
If you’re currently mothering a newborn, it can be difficult to imagine that your tiny, gummy baby might have a mouth full of pearly whites one day. How can you be thinking about your infant’s oral health when there are so many other things to think about? Well, your little one’s baby teeth will be with them for years, so you owe it to your child to be proactive.
Problems With Teeth
Prolonged pacifier use can cause changes in the physical shape of your child’s mouth. Remember all you learned about supporting the baby’s soft spot while their skull was developing? In early childhood, your baby’s skull is still pliable, and that includes the roof of the mouth, called the palate.
It can also lead to issues with tooth alignment. There may be crowding and other issues that make it difficult for teeth to erupt where they should. This can lead to problems with eating and, later, social problems.
Pacifier use is directly linked to a need for expensive orthodontic intervention in the future. This is true even if you do not have a family history of requiring braces.
Problems With Speech and Language
Pacifier use has also been linked to an increase in ear infections in young children. It causes the auditory tubes to open up, which allows bacteria from your baby’s throat to enter their middle ear. Once there, it can fester into aggressive infections that can even lead to hearing loss.
Pacifier use is also linked to speech problems for many of the reasons listed above. The shape of your child’s palate and the location of their teeth changes the way they produce sound. It can be difficult to understand these children, and they may require speech therapy into childhood.
Furthermore, if your child’s mouth is always busy with a pacifier, they are less likely to be using it to talk. This can lead to a reliance on grunting or pointing and delay their expressive language development.
But can baby sleep with pacifier? Surely they won’t be developing speech and language skills in their sleep! Sleeping with a pacifier can still lead to mouth and tooth malformations, and cause those nasty ear infections.
All in all, even the best baby pacifiers can lead to problems down the line. It is best to wean before your child can become too dependent.
Tips for Pacifier Weaning
Please don’t feel like a bad mother for allowing your baby to use a pacifier! The best pacifiers are efficient, soothing solutions that provide babies with comfort. The best mothers allow pacifier use but know when it’s time to take them away.
It may be hard to believe now, but there are ways to get a baby to sleep without a pacifier! You will need patience and persistence to succeed, but you are capable!
When to Wean
Most pediatric professionals agree that the right time to begin weaning is about the age of one. The process can and should be gradual, not traumatic. This is so that children do not develop an emotional attachment to the pacifier that makes it much more difficult to take away.
You might consider weaning by eliminating the use of the pacifier in the daytime first. They might only be given a pacifier for naptime and bedtime. It might be a difficult few days, but once your child has adapted, you can think about eliminating pacifier use during naptime, then bedtime.
How to Wean
Many parents begin the weaning process by cutting the tips off of the pacifiers before giving them to their children. That removes the physical soothing mechanism of the pacifier without removing the object. When the pacifier becomes uncoupled from the positive feelings, they may decide to ditch the pacifier on their own.
You might also consider offering another comfort item in place of the pacifier. Consider a stuffed animal or other lovie that can provide comfort without harming your child’s development.
Many parents swear by the use of a “pacifier fairy,” similar to the concept of the tooth fairy. They encourage their little ones to bundle up the pacifiers and leave them to be collected by the fairy, who will give them to a smaller baby who needs them. If the “fairy” leaves a big kid gift in return, it can be easy to transition without any trauma!
Many parents, however, simply go cold turkey. It can be rough, but some children, surprisingly, don’t seem to mind. It might be worthwhile to give the gradual approach a shot and see how your child responds.
Wean Your Baby Like Magic
Pacifier weaning may seem like a big, heartbreaking feat. The small amount of stress and effort will pay off. Weaning your baby early will have positive long-term results on the health and happiness of your child.
Feeling empowered to make more positive changes for your family? There are more ideas where this one came from! Browse the rest of the blog for more inspiring articles for moms on a mission!