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Let’s Talk Pacifiers

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baby girl with pacifier

Pacifiers are arguable the best and worst baby gadget ever created. Best because you have finally gotten yourself together, gathered all of your baby gear, and gone on a morning run to Target. There you are wandering aisle to aisle, gathering a cart full of things (because we all know that you can’t go to Target for just some deodorant) and baby starts giving you the I’m-about-to-scream-the-loudest-I-possibly-can-face. Within seconds, everyone at Target is staring at you because you have a screaming baby (imagine that!). Out comes the pacifier, pop it in the mouth, and BAM…Silence! Everyone is happy.

This all seems like the perfect mute button until, you, like me, decide that this could work in all scenarios. You bring your baby home from the hospital and all the moms in your mom group suggest that you should get baby on the pacifier early to avoid the pacifier rejection later on. Baby is upset, so you bring out the pacifier. You pop the pacifier in the mouth and SCORE…silence! Baby falls asleep and everyone is happy…until, 2 minutes later it falls out and baby is crying again. No problem, you pop it right back in….silence again! Woohoo! This thing is magical! 2 minutes later, baby is screaming again. Well…you get the point. This all continues until baby becomes more efficient with keeping that pacifier in, or until you end up picking up another gadget to keep the pacifier in.

Even after baby has mastered holding the pacifier in, the reality is that the pacifier can’t stay in the mouth forever. In order for me to best discuss the pacifier, I need to provide you with a bit of background on children and their relationship with sleep. When children are dependent on anything external, like breast, bottle, pacifier, or motion, to fall asleep, they are more likely to wake up throughout the night. What happens is, every time they come out of a sleep cycle, they need the identical thing to happen in order to fall back asleep. For example, if baby has fallen asleep while in mom’s arms, then transferred into the crib, when baby wakes up and finds herself in the crib, it makes for a confusing situation. She’s not happy. This is similar to you going to sleep in your bed, and finding yourself on your front lawn in the morning. I know, not happy about it either. While this is not true for ALL children (my darling little niece and nephew sleep with a pacifier and are champ sleepers), it can be the reason why your little one is waking up throughout the night.

A common solution that I often hear from moms is the “Pacifier Confetti” method. They simply sprinkle lots of pacifiers in the crib and when baby wakes up, baby pops her own pacifier back in the mouth and falls right back to sleep. Phew! Problem solved. The only issue with this is that baby is still not getting the consolidated, long stretches of sleep, she needs. Babies develop best when they are sleeping long stretches of sleep, instead of the fragmented sleep they get from waking up several times throughout the night. This method is similar to your pillow falling off of your bed several times throughout the night. You might quickly pick it up and fall right back to sleep, but eventually you would need to find a solution to this. This is what baby relies on you for.

To give your little one the quality sleep she gets from sleeping through the night, she needs to learn to fall asleep independently so that she is not waking up throughout the night to replace the pacifier. That means that once the bedtime routine is complete, baby would go in the crib, completely awake, pacifier free. Scary right? Moms are always okay with giving up the rocking (because lets face it, no one wants to rock a 20 pound baby anymore), and are definitely okay with removing the bottle if it means they’ll sleep through the night, but for some reason, the pacifier is the scariest one to say good-bye to. I am here to tell you that you don’t have to say good-bye to the pacifier, once and for all, but do say good-bye if baby is still waking up through out the night to replace her pacifier. It’s just too much work for her. This means that the next time baby gives you that face while you’re at Target, feel free to pop it right back out and use it. Just leave it out of her sleep situation and she will be forever thankful to you.

Tried leaving it out of her sleep and never got any silence? Set up a time to chat and I will help get her sleeping, (and we’ll leave the confetti for her sleeping-through-the-night party).

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about anet

My name is Anet and I am a certified Sleep Sense™ sleep consultant located in Los Angeles. I help parents worldwide with their little one’s sleep challenges and I want to help you! With two little ones of my own, I understand the sleep challenges that arise at all ages. Let’s schedule a time to talk to help you and your little one start sleeping again!

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