Pacifiers... Sometimes Necessary?
I am glad that you say you never forced a pacifier. I see so many mothers who just keep plugging it back in the second it falls out of the baby's mouth, even if the baby doesn't continue to fuss! They are creating a bad habbit for the child by making the child think they are supposed to be sucking 24 hours a day! Trust me, if the pacifier falls out and the baby wants it back, he'll let you know!!!
I think that bottle fed babies probably don't get enough sucking time in because they usually empty a bottle much faster than a breastfed baby empties a breast and they have less feedings per day. Additionally, there is no real "work" involved in sucking a bottle, it will pretty much drip out just turning it upside down, so they really don't get much sucking "exercise" from it. This being the case, it isn't a bad idea to let them have a pacifier so they can satisfy that need to suck. A need not satisfied in infancy can rear it's ugly head in adulthood. Not getting enough sucking now COULD (I said could in some cases, but not always!) mean an oral fixation later, satisfied by smoking or overeating. Trust me, I am the first to condemn pacifiers so I don't say these things lightly. In a breastfed baby I think there is no need for pacifiers, except in extreme situations like if the mom has sore nipples and just cant tolerate the pain and needs a little break from the nursings that are sucking nursings not hunger nursings. But, usage of a pacifier wisely for a bottle fed baby is important. For a breastfed baby, keep in mind though, that pacifier use can lead to nipple confusion resulting in early weaning, which has been the downfall of many a nursing pair, unbeknownst to the mother.
The better option to the pacifier, is her thumb, which is actually my preference. A thumb never gets lost in the mall, it doesn't fall out of the sling onto the disgusting subway platform, and they can never misplace it... not to mention that the dog won't take off with it ether, nor have I ever heard of a thumb being recalled as a choking hazard! The thumb is with them 24 hours a day and easily available. I don't buy into the theory that you can't get the thumb away from them and break the habit like you can with the pacifier (by prematurely disposing of it and manipulating the child into thinking he is ready to give it up before his time.) If the child is still sucking his thumb at 3 or 4 so what? Many children are still breastfeeding until that age because they still need to satisfy the sucking urge. Eventually the child's need to suck will go away, naturally, after it has been satisfied. The child who is still sucking his thumb at 10 years of age is probably doing it to satisfy a need that wasn't met, and forcing them to stop isn't going to satisfy that need... some deeper digging into what is the real cause will be the only remedy for the situation.
So to sum it up, yes, it's okay to let your baby get her sucking elsewhere, but if I were in your position I would opt for the thumb though, instead of the pacifier.
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