Should you be using a pacifier to help your baby sleep? Is it safe to use with a newborn? How and when should I wean my child from a pacifier? Hey, there I’m Becca Campbell, your pediatric sleep consultant, and I am going to be answering your biggest questions about baby pacifiers!
I want to preface this post with if you have a child who is using the pacifier and they are sleeping all night long without disruptions, and their naps are beautiful then perhaps you can keep the pacifier. If your child is experiencing disrupted sleep patterns and nothing is helping, a pacifier isn’t going to solve your issues. It might lead to more issues.
Let’s first address the elephant in the room. How can I be against the pacifier? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends them in the first 6 months of life. The AAP also suggests that you room share up to a year, but I don’t know many families making that recommendation. So while the AAP recommends a pacifier up to 6 months, I suggest ditching the pacifier at around 4 months old.
Why does the AAP suggest using the pacifier? According to the research, using a pacifier can potentially help reduce SIDS. The light sucking keeps your child in a light sleep mode because they need the sucking motion to stay asleep in between sleep cycles.
Let’s get into my do’s and don’ts with pacifiers. Number one, do use a pacifier for newborns! Newborns have a very strong sucking reflex. They are an amazing tool because infants have a strong desire for what’s called non-nutritive sucking. Newborns also cannot self-soothe or put themselves to sleep and the pacifier can help.
The non-nutritive sucking for them is really helpful to calm them to help them connect their sleep cycles. We classify newborns as 0 to 15 weeks old. After 16 weeks, you don’t need the pacifier. For a baby 16 weeks old and up, it is now no longer needed. At this point, they can use their fingers to self-soothe.
As a parent, you are actually in control of the pacifier and praying that they can find that pacifier in the middle of the night to get through their sleep cycles. If you teach them to self-soothe with their fingers, they are always available and controlled by the child. I’d highly recommend going cold turkey and tossing the pacifiers!
I’m just going to get on a little soap box here because I am really passionate about this subject. There is no way that you need to keep a plug in your baby’s mouth. Yes, Becca. I know, I get it. Babies can be fussy and loud, but what if I asked you this— if you’re using a pacifier because your baby is so fussy, how are they sleeping?
Are they getting the recommended amount of sleep? If you do our free schedule generator, you can evaluate if they are getting enough daytime and nighttime sleep. If your child isn’t getting enough sleep, that might explain why they are so fussy (and why you need to use the pacifier to soothe them).
First of all, a wubbanub is a sweet little pacifier with a soft stuffed toy attached to it. It is proposed to make it easier for your baby to grab the stuffie if they lose their pacifier. I’d recommend, if your child is 12 months and up, just clipping off the pacifier and letting them use the stuffed animal as a comfort item. Talk to your child about it beforehand and explain that they are a big boy or girl, and they don’t need the pacifier anymore! Maybe you have them physically throw it away or explain the ‘pacifier fairy’ removed it. That is up to you. I tend to be super straightforward with our kids and involve them in the process when we make changes.
Have a plan and involve them. This may mean taking them to the store and letting them pick out a new stuffed animal to sleep with. Or maybe they get to pick out a new book to read for bedtime. So you’re going to present the plan and you’re going to be consistent with it. Keep going forward.
Don’t buy into any of those crazy weird weaning systems. There is no reason to have a pacifier weaning kit—just simply cut it out. Cold Turkey. It’s going to go a lot smoother that way.
The biggest takeaway in this post is this: use pacifiers for newborns until 16 weeks old. At this point, toss the pacifier cold turkey!
If you are looking for more step-by-step action to improve your baby or toddler’s overall sleep, check out our online sleep programs.
Not sure if this if for you and your child? If you don’t know where to start, take our quiz and answer a few questions.
Sweet dreams. See you next time.
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