Should I Ditch the Pacifier?

Written by Melissa Arca, MD

My baby girl, who is on the verge of turning three, has three big loveys in her life: blankie, paci, and bear. And I, nor she, are in any rush to give them up. Still, the question creeps in from time to time…Should I ditch the paci?

With my firstborn, my son, I felt pressured to wean him by a certain age. Mostly because I was a first time Mom and Pediatrician and felt I should do things “right”. So I was all proud as could be when his paci was completely weaned by the time he was two. Even at that age I felt I waited too long.

Well guess what went along with the pacifier? Nap time. Now I would NOT call that a success story. I would call that a painful mistake. He never went back to his daytime naps after that. Why oh why did I hold firm? I should have just gone out and bought another one.

Now, here I am, a bit more experienced. More comfortable with my mothering and doctoring abilities. The Mom side of me knows the comfort it provides my daughter while the Doctor side still wants to make sure I’m not overlooking any potential harm.

So in my effort to answer my own question, I’ve decided to have a conversation about the paci…with myself. Yes you heard me right…Mom and Doctor discussing the whole pacifier issue. Bear with me, it should be good…

Melissa: Do you think it’s time to wean my daughter from the pacifier?

Dr.Mom: Why? Does her pacifier use bother you?

Melissa: No, not really.

Dr.Mom: Does it bother your daughter?

Melissa: No. Actually, it is a great comfort to her.

Dr.Mom: What is your concern about the pacifier?

Melissa: Well, I’ve read that it can interfere with speech development.

Dr.Mom: Does your daughter have her pacifier in her mouth all day?

Melissa: No, she only uses it for nap, bedtime, and car rides.

Dr.Mom: And, have you noticed any impairment of her speech?

Melissa: No, she’s quite the talker.

Dr.Mom: Okay then…

Melissa: Well, I’ve also heard that it can effect the development of her teeth, is she going to have crooked teeth?

Dr.Mom: Well, she might but then again, she might not. The changes are usually temporary and self correct once the pacifier is no longer in use.

Melissa: Okay then…I won’t worry about it anymore.

Dr.Mom: One last thought Melissa

Melissa: Yes, Dr.Mom?

Dr.Mom: Honestly, when is the last time you’ve seen a child walk in to kindergarten with a pacifier in her mouth?

So there you have it…no I’m not going to ditch the paci…not for now anyway. I’m sure the day she’ll have to give it up to the paci fairy is just around the corner. I’ll let her lead the way and we’ll see how things go. It’s one of her comforts and as far as I can see, there is no harm…only comfort.

I really love how Joey from Big Teeth & Clouds put it: “…hang onto whatever she needs. Life is tough, we should use what we can to get by”. Fantastic point Joey and I couldn’t agree more.

So, tell me, what do you think? Did you feel pressure to ditch the pacifier by a certain age? If so, what did you do?

Dr. Arca is a pediatrician. She works part-time while raising her two young children, Big Brother (age 6) and Little Sister (age 3). She is passionate about writing and writing about motherhood, parenting, and children’s health is what she does best. Dr. Arca blogs regularly at Confessions of a Dr. Mom

3 thoughts on “Should I Ditch the Pacifier?

  1. Thank you for writing this. I have really struggled with this issue with my 3 1/2 year old. She has extenuating circumstances and I still feel she needs the paci because it comforts her and provides her with oral stimulation. But I get a lot of pressure to get rid of it. I’m keeping it. :)

  2. While the decision to continue the “paci” may be fine for you and your daughter other families have different experiences. What about the Trained Night Crier who gets up at night, can’t find the pacifier to go back to sleep and cries until Mom or Dad gets up and plugs it back in. This may be repeated two or three times at night. Teaching the child to fall asleep without a pacifier at an earlier age is not a bad skill to develop. The kids AND the parents sleep better. What about the Trained Night Feeders? How long would you continue to give a night time bottle to a child who wakes up crying, “because that’s the only way s/he can go back to sleep”? Learning “no” is healthy for toddlers. That’s how they adjust their behavior to what is acceptable and what is not. We’ve all seen the spoiled tantruming toddler who have parents who never learned to say “no”.

  3. Pingback: Parenting Advice, a Guide or How to Manual? « Survivor: Pediatrics

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