Are you wondering about alternatives to pacifiers? To some parents, a pacifier is a true gift to parenthood. It’s probably made parenting a lot easier by keeping your baby calm and YOU sane in the process. But if your kid is anything like my daughter, then you’ve never found the pacifier useful. My daughter has never liked the pacifier. She always spat it out!
Whatever the case, I’m here to give you a few alternatives. But first, I’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of pacifiers, when to give them up and answer a few questions you may have on the matter.
The History Behind the Baby Pacifier
For the longest time, babies were given all sorts of objects to stick in their mouths in a bid to stop them from crying. The idea was for the baby to imitate the sucking reflex using the object until lulled into a state of calmness.
For some parents, giving their kids pacifiers was more of a superstitious act than anything else. With the latter, parents believed sucking these objects repelled evil spirits! These objects were made of all sorts of materials including clay, metal, stuffed fabric, and bone. Clearly safety wasn’t the main issue here.
It’s only in the 19th century that the first somewhat safe pacifiers were invented. Around 1900, the first modern pacifier design was patented in the US by Christian Meinecke, a known pharmacist. Dubbed a “baby comforter”, the product featured a teat, shield, and handle design. From then different technologies were incorporated into designing modern pacifiers right up to the ones you see today.
Baby Pacifiers: The Pros and Cons
Parents hold mixed reviews regarding a pacifier’s true value. As mentioned, some parents believe that they’re a lifesaver. Other parents believe the drawbacks associated with pacifier usage outweigh the benefits.
But let’s not speculate. I’ll list some of the pros and cons associated with using pacifiers so you can form your own opinion.
- Encourages babies to self soothe.
- Linked to decreasing the risk of SIDS. It’s believed that while a baby is sucking on a pacifier, her airway is kept open.
- Satisfies your little one’s sucking reflex since babies have a natural desire to suck.
- Keep parents calm because a peaceful baby equals a relaxed parent.
- Constant sucking results in future dental problems.
- Interferes with healthy breastfeeding as a result of nipple confusion.
- High risk of developing a middle ear infection.
- Interferes with weight gain if pacifiers replace feeding.
- Choking hazard if it breaks.
- A pacifier habit may cause speech delays.
Affects the mother’s breastmilk supply if the baby is always on a pacifier as opposed to regular breastfeeding.
When and How to Wean Off Baby Pacifiers
If you’ve been relying on a pacifier to calm your baby down, a time comes when you must seriously consider other methods. Why? The longer you use a pacifier, the more difficult it becomes to wean your baby off. Also, the chances are higher of associated risks developing.
So, when’s the right time to ditch the dummy?
Quite frankly, the earlier you start the weaning process, the better. The easiest age to start weaning your baby off the dummy is around the sixth or seventh-month mark. You’re met with little to no resistance.
The older your child gets, the more emotionally attached he is to the pacifier. If you prefer to hold off weaning for later, make sure you wean by the time your child is between 2 and 4 years.
But whatever you do, avoid going cold turkey on your little one. Behavioral issues such as acting out or difficulty in falling asleep may arise. Rather make it a gradual process by trying out the following:
- Limit pacifier usage to bedtime.
- Use mindful breathing techniques to help manage your baby’s anxiety without sucking.
- Drop hints on why giving up the pacifier is a good idea.
- Read a bedtime story about how a girl who said goodbye to her pacifier and felt happy every time she hugged her new teddy.
- Try other sensory activities to relax your baby’s nervous system such as blowing bubbles or squeezing bath toys.
Can I Soothe My Baby Without a Pacifier?
Is it at all possible to soothe your little one without a pacifier? The good news is – yes, absolutely! Try out the following:
- Good old-fashioned rocking and bouncing your baby should do the trick.
- Sing a lullaby.
- Play soothing music. Make sure the sound isn’t too loud to protect your baby’s hearing.
Alternatives to Baby Pacifiers for Soothing Babies
So, what alternatives can you offer your baby in place of a pacifier? I engaged with a number of parents and they found the following ways to be successful.
For most babies, pacifiers are handy when it’s night time. That’s why picking something associated with sleeping — like a blanket — is always a wise move. To help your child embrace the process, let her pick out the blanket. When night falls, it’s easier to cuddle next to the favorite blanket she picked out.
2. A New Toy
Giving your child a new toy will distract them from their pacifier. Let your child pick out the new toy. Some negotiations will have to take place here! Your child needs to understand a new toy will only come if they agree to give up the pacifier.
For girls, it can be Barbie, for boys it can be a stuffed animal. For my daughter, it was a white rabbit. The excitement of owning a new toy should replace the craving for the pacifier.
A swaddle works the same as a blanket by providing that security and comforts your baby gets from the pacifier.
4. Night Light or Projector
As kids get older, they become afraid of the dark. Clinging to a pacifier is more of a safety and security measure than anything else. Place a nightlight or projector in your child’s room to create a soothing ambiance and allay any fears.
5. Alternative Weaning Products
Try out some of these products designed to replace the pacifier.
This product is designed to reduce your baby’s sucking satisfaction over time. It’s dentist-approved which should take care of most of your dental problem concerns. The product is latex and BPA-free so no need to worry about toxic substances.
Make the weaning process an educational one by reading your child this book designed to improve his emotional intelligence. It talks about how the duck gave up his pacifier. The sentences are short and the illustrations are bold & bright. Your toddler will love engaging with the “duck”!
Designed for babies 12 months and older, this weaning system helps your child wean at her own pace. It’s made of non-toxic materials and features a hole in the middle which makes the sucking process unsatisfying.
If your little one is afraid of the dark, opt for this attractive night light projector. It features everything you need to calm your baby down: from calming animal graphics to soothing music. The automatic timer will shut off the unit when your baby is sound asleep.
Why do babies like pacifiers?
Babies like pacifiers because they remind them of their mothers’ womb. Sucking is one of the five womb sensations designed to trigger a child’s calming reflex. Just make sure you use them the correct way as outlined in this video.
When is the best time to wean off pacifiers?
The easiest time is when your baby is between six and nine months. If they’re older, then it’s recommended they’re weaned off by the age of two.
What are the biggest concerns about pacifiers?
Pacifier usage is associated with future dental issues among other factors such as ear infections and unhealthy emotional attachments.
Conclusion: Soothing Babies Without the Pacifier
Soothing babies without a pacifier is possible. You simply need to try out the various tips mentioned earlier. While using a pacifier seems like the easier option to calm down a wailing baby, the long-term risks are much higher than the short-term solution it provides.
Are you willing to try and soothe your baby the old-fashioned way? It may just save you from countless trips to the dentist in the future, among other factors. But ultimately your parenting decision in this regard is entirely up to you. What’s your take? To use, or not to use a pacifier?
Last update on 2021-02-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API