Monday, June 20, 2011

Too Old For A Pacifier?

My daughter is 17 months now and I'm starting the process of weaning her from her soother. All three of my children have used pacifiers and all of them under different circumstances.  (I've previously written about my sookie babies here) My first started using one at about 6 weeks of age. He was a constant nurser and I needed something to help him comfort suck. My second I transitioned to a soother when he was an older baby, as he started to use me as a pacifier. My third was put on a paci at the hospital as a preemie in the NICU. Preemies are often put on a pacifier to help their jaw muscle development so that they can have the strength to become good nursers.
My first was weaned from the soother at about a year and a half. He had been finished nursing at 12 months. I used a 'lovey' (stuffed toy) to as a sleep aid rather than the paci. And then when we moved we 'lost' the soothers in the move.
My second was a little bit older to stop using a pacifier. It happened around his second birthday. He nursed for longer (17 months) and never did take to a 'lovey'. Getting rid of his paci was tougher as we couldn't find a good transition sleep/comfort object for him.
My third child is still nursing and I'm hoping that she nurses until close to her second birthday. I think as long as she is nursing before her nap and bedtime I will be using the soother with her. Right now I'm working on making it available only for sleep time. So far, it's working. Out of sight, out of mind.
As I've been re-reading and re-visiting the idea of pacifier weaning, I came across some articles that for lack of a better term fall into the great pacifier debate: "How old is too old for a pacifier?" It reminded me of once seeing a child who was about 6 still using a pacifier, out with his parents for the day. The look just took me by surprise. As much as I try not to judge parents, I couldn't help the thought of, "that's just not right". I will confess that I was a long term thumb sucker as a child (till age 6). One of the reasons I like(d) having my children on a pacifier rather than a thumb is that a pacifier can be taken away, a thumb can't. My parents had the cost of orthodontic bill for me to fix my crooked teeth partly caused by thumb sucking.
Famously in the media is celeb offspring, Suri Cruise, who at age 4 still uses her paci. Toddlers and Tiaras star Mackenzie has been caught on camera more than once freaking out looking for her 'ni ni'. (As a side note, wouldn't you love to see the Supernanny take on Mackenzie and her mother?)



So what's the big deal? When is a good age to remove the paci? How old is too old for it?
A paci is designed for infant use. We all know that sucking is an important part of an infant's development. Most pediatricians recommend losing the paci by age 1, and definitely by age 2. The rationale is to allow for the child to find another way of comforting themselves and to allow the child to develop proper speech. Yes, I've seen plenty of older children trying to speak with a paci in their mouth and you can't understand what they are saying. There is also the danger of using the paci as a way of keeping your child quiet. Daycare centres who are successful in not allowing the child to use a paci all day are often frustrated that the first thing the parent does when they pick their child up is put 'the plug in the mouth'.  I think pacifiers have their values and benefits, but they are not something that should be used long term.  If you are having troubles getting rid of the soother, there may be deeper parenting issues there.  Look at the reasons why you are using it.  Is it to make your child happy at all costs?  Is it to make your life easier and quieter?  Or, maybe you just aren't bothered by it and it isn't an issue for you.  I'm interested to hear what other moms think on this topic.  It's a great debate.  There are those who wear their status of "my child never used one" with pride.  There are others like me who found them useful, but were happy to be done with them once their purpose was served.  And then there are those who have long-term paci users.  I could be opening a can of worms here, but I think that's a good thing, I love a good debate.

10 comments:

  1. I try not top judge other mommies. Who knows what their situations are. My first paci user I through it out on her first birthday and spent the next 2 yrs not sleeping as she would wake and cry constantly. My second I took away at around 15mos and then spent the rest of the next year and half combatting the thumb sucker in her because she needed to suck and she was sucking her thumb directly after birth so I used her paci to stop that then took it away because everyone said to. This child he would not use a paci to save my poor boobies:) until finally about 9 mos old he just took one and now he likes it at bed time. I take it away during the day but at night I let him use it because if i take it away he sucks his thumb. I would rather have a plastic thumb that I can remove and control in oppose to the real thum that I cant hide. My granddaughter is 7 and sucks her thumb her teeth are jacked up and she is made fun of at school. I think to each their own and every baby is is different with different circumstances. :)

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  2. My son stopped using them on his own time! About maybe when he was six or seven months, he just stopped! We just recently transitioned him to sippy cups rather than bottles. It was a bit hard at first, but he's gotten use to them. Now we just need to take away the bed time bottle... That'll be fun!

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  3. My son was 2 years and 8 months when he just suddenly stopped searching for his pacifiers at bedtime! The rule was we don't use pacifiers unless we are in bed or driving in the car and need to sleep (and always when he was sick!). He stuck to the rules without any pushing. One day, he just forgot about them so we hid them. When he asked for them a week later I just told him he was a big boy and didn't need them. He smiled and went to sleep!! I couldn't believe it. He was obsessed with them previously and all of a sudden he was fine! Sometimes, if you move, or have another baby, or change a routine drastically, I think children need their pacifier longer. I was going to try the Paci-Fairy route when he turned 3 if he still used them. But we're good to go!

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  4. Great post and I too would love to see Super Nanny take on that crazy child and her mother! My son started using a soother around 4 months and then self weaned his soother at 9 months. I think some babies truly need them and love to suck other than suckle for nutrition only.

    I'm always taken aback when brand new parents birth their baby and then bring out the brand new soother that they've packed along in their hospital bag.

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  5. @Jenni, I am totally with you on trying not to judge other parents, you're right, I don't know what their situations are...I do admit that it is difficult sometimes.

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  6. I have had friends who also fall into that category of their child just not using anymore, I forgot about them!

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  7. I actually wished for the longest time that my son would take a soother...he never did. He would chew on them, but not suck. And when he wanted to sleep he would look for me and breastmilk. It's a bit frustrating because it's taking him a REALLY long time to learn to self sooth. But he is slowly getting there. I know that some parents have a really hard time getting the soother away from their child once started. I think the biggest thing is that they are not made big enough. I don't think they are made for four years old. I actually can't find one in local stores passed 24 months. Which makes it seem like that is when parents should stop. But having not really first hand experience I can't really say. I would hope that my baby would stop needing it when they stopped nursing.

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  8. my son is 2 and only has it when he sleeps or is ill and needs some extra comfort. I do not allow him otherwise to walk around with his "tutti" during the day. he also has a stuffed animal he takes everywhere with him. during the times he isn't allowed it i put it high on a shelf where he can't see it. out of sight=out of mind.

    and yes would like to see super nanny vs Mackenzie or some of the other really spoiled tiara toddlers.

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  9. Her parents don't know but that Ni Ni going to be replaced by something else they going to not want to deal with and man when it comes I am glad Im not living in their town LOL Thats so pathetic the child is a demon

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  10. that is not right to put botox in little girls

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