Spoiler alert- I absolutely love pacifiers for sleep. In this week’s episode, I’ll be talking all about pacifiers- namely, why they are awesome, when to introduce a pacifier, and when to take it away.

Have a listen!

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Eva: (00:04)
Hey there, you’re listening to the, My Sleeping Baby podcast, which is all about baby and child sleep. I’m so excited to teach you how you can get your little ones sleeping so that you can sleep too and enjoy parenthood to its fullest. I’m Eva Klein, your resident’s sleep expert, mom of three, founder of the Sleep Bible online coaching program, and lover of all things sleep and motherhood. If you’re looking for tangible solutions for your little one sleep woes or you simply want to learn more, this podcast is for you. For more information, check out mysleepingbaby.com and you can follow me on Instagram and Facebook @mysleepingbaby.

Eva: (00:44)
All right, pacifiers, why are they awesome? they’re awesome. For so many reasons. I always recommend trying to introduce a pacifier to a newborn because newborns have a very well known sucking reflex, which means that when they are sucking on something like a pacifier, it helps them calm their nervous system. In fact, there is a very famous well known pediatrician. His name is Dr. Harvey car and he coined what is famously known as the five S’s, which is a series of steps that all start with the letter S that parents of fussy coy babies can implement to be able to reach what’s known as your baby’s calming reflex, right? It helps them calm down. And so of those five steps, those five S sucking is one of those SS. And so giving your baby a pacifier means that first of all, you are nursing. You don’t have to be that human pacifier, which might be nice sometimes, but I can tell you from experience, it’s gonna get exhausting very, very quickly.

Eva: (01:54)
It also means that, you know, if you’re out and about, and your newborn is in the car seats, um, or in the stroller, and you can’t just without your boob, you know, the drop of a hat, you can put the pacifier in and it can calm your baby down. Um, especially for those, you know, car rides that your baby baby would otherwise be freaking out over the pacifier can be a very helpful tool to keep your baby nice and calm. Now, the benefits of a pacifier don’t disappear once your little one gets older and is no longer a newborn, the pacifier continues to be a wonderful sleep tool for these older babies and toddlers, because we know that it is inherently calming, inherently soothing and inherently relaxing. Okay. So let’s talk about when is the best time to ditch the pacifier and say, okay, you know what, your little one is done, sleeping with it.

Eva: (02:51)
It’s gonna affect their teeth. And, you know, it’s time to move on to something else. Obviously, first and foremost, I just wanna emphasize that you want to go and follow your pediatric, um, dentist recommendations because, um, dental, hygiene and dental health are very, very important. That being said, I will say that it is not ideal to be removing your little one’s pacifier until they are in that threeish year. Mark. Um, I find more often than not, when someone tries to get rid of their two year old’s pacifier, it is often disastrous because a two year old, unlike a three year old cannot be reasoned with, for the most part, they don’t understand whatsoever why you’re getting rid of them, uh, why you’re getting rid of the pacifier specifically. And they have the power and the stamina to really throw massive tantrums at bedtime for not getting what they want.

Eva: (03:55)
And so, yes, it is possible to get rid of that pacifier, but more often than not, I find that it’s much, much easier when the child is a little bit older. And I can tell you from experience with all three of my kids, my dentist has never told any of my kids to, uh, drop their pacifier any earlier than three. Um, and I know that some people might be told differently, but I find that when you push a little bit and you say, okay, listen, you know, maybe it’s ideal to get rid of it. Now are my little one’s teeth, that much of a dis of a disaster. Can it wait another six months? Yes or no. You know, having an open discussion with your dentist about this, I find is it can be very helpful because the last thing that you wanna be doing is taking on this huge amount of stress, where you could be dealing with a few days, you know, up to a week of bedtime battles and potentially night wakings from your little one who is struggling to sleep without that pacifier.

Eva: (04:59)
And doesn’t understand this change has happened. I am a big advocate of just taking the path of least resistance when it comes to this sort of thing. If it is easier to wait until they’re three or three and a half for that matter and it’ll work and it’ll do the trick and it’s not gonna cause any damage in the process, take the less bumpy road. Trust me on that one. See, don’t forget that preschool age children, you know, in that three to three and a half year range are a little bit older developmentally and emotionally, and they can often be incentivized by things like rewards charts, and, you know, special prizes that they might get from the toy store by giving their pacifier to the Passey ferry, otherwise known the dentist. So don’t underestimate that because that can really make a difference in how easy or difficult it is for your little one to adjust to sleeping without it.

Eva: (05:53)
So JJ is three years and two months something like that as of today. And he still sleeps with a pacifier, but our plan is to eliminate it and get rid of it at his next dental visit, which should be, um, around the three and a half year mark. Um, with my girls, we had a similar plan with the both of them, but it was a bit of a different experience getting rid of their pacifier. So Amna was about three years old and we were not the least bit worried with her because remember she was that kid that was always a little bit more mature. She could be reasoned with. She was hugely incentivized by rewards charts and sticker charts. And so we took her to the dentist. She was literal just over the age of three and she gave the pass, her passes to the dentist, and then we took her to the toy store and we got her a special toy.

Eva: (06:46)
And then that night bedtime took a little bit longer if I recall. Um, but it wasn’t the least bit disastrous. It did take her a little bit longer to fall asleep than usual, but that, that was it. You know, for the most part, within a few days, she adjusted, uh, no issues whatsoever. And so our plan was to do the exact same thing with Eliana. And so when Eliana was about three, we had another dental checkup for her. And that day, I remember having this awful feeling and the pit of my stomach going, she is not ready for this. She is not Amna. You know, Amna was more mature at this age. Eli at three was still very much a toddler in terms of maturity. Um, she was still very impulsive. She was very, you know, still throwing those two year old style temper tantrums.

Eva: (07:40)
Couldn’t be reasoned with just wanted to do what she felt like doing. It happens to be that her personality is very much like that as well. She’s a free spirit, right? And so it wasn’t any different when she was two or three than the way that she is now at age eight, she is very much a free spirit. And so I set that age. It just came across as, um, a little bit less mature and I was very, very nervous to take away that pacifier from her. And so what we did was we went to the dentist and, uh, and our dentist at the time. She’s fantastic. Her name is, uh, Dr. Lori Goldenberg and giving a shut up out to Lori because she is awesome. Um, her clinic is called smile squad here in Toronto. And I, I had her look at Elena’s teeth and I explained her the situation.

Eva: (08:29)
I said, listen, I know that she’s three. I know that the plan was, um, for her to give you her passes today and then get a toy. But I said, is it PO for us to hold off another six months until her next visit? I said, I am so nervous about this. She’s such a little three year old, you know, not just in yes. In size, she’s always been 10th percentile for everything, but just maturity. Why she’s so little, is there any way that we can hold off for another six months without compromising her teeth? And so Lori took a look in her mouth and said, you know what? I think she’ll be, okay, wait another six months. It’s no problem. Um, just, you know, don’t do it with the pacifier and we’ll, we’ll talk about that next. But, um, that extra six months was a game changer because Elna really did grow up a lot in that six month period of time.

Eva: (09:27)
Um, I really did see her go from being a toddler in terms of maturity to really, you know, a proper preschooler, right, where she was a little girl. She wasn’t a big baby anymore. And so by the time we went back to smile squad when Eliana was three and a half years, she was very, very ready for it. Um, we actually did. I actually, Facebook lied the whole situ you know, where she gave Lori her passes. And then, you know, Lori gave her these coins where she could go to, you know, the toy section and then choose whatever toys she wanted. Then we went to, I think, winners afterwards to let her go and, you know, pick out a pass toy. And, and it actually ended up being a very similar situation to how Amona reacted to going down without her pacifier, in that it took her a little bit longer to fall asleep.

Eva: (10:23)
She gave us a bit of a harder time at bedtime. You know, she tried using all these, you know, stalling tactics and delay tactics, cuz I guess she knew she was going down without her pass, but overall it went seamlessly. And so I think that this is the best example that I can think of to back up waiting until your little one is ready enough. And to really avoid tackling this pass issue when your little one is in that two year range, as much as you can now, I will wanna provide you with a really fantastic piece of insight that Lori Goldenberg herself provided me that I wanna share with you because I think that this is such a helpful piece of advice. When I was asking her about Elena’s teeth, can I wait another six months before getting her to the past? She said that she believes that one of the reasons why Eliana’s teeth weren’t so bad that we could, we could justify waiting another six months was because I’ve never been giving my kids the pass during the day.

Eva: (11:35)
They only ever got it during sleep to time, or I suppose when they were infants, yes, they would get it during the day as a baby, you know, in the car, in the stroller, even playing around when they were fussy. But specifically I’m talking about, you know, for little, when they were over the age of one, the pass was not something that was in their mouth day and night. I really limited it to sleep time only. And the reason why that, that was such a, a huge move to make it was so helpful was because it meant that that the Passi was in Elena’s mouth for maybe, you know, half of that 24 hour period, as opposed to the majority of that 24 hour period. And it limited the impact that it had on her teeth. Hugely. A lot of the time when dentists are telling parents that they need to get rid of the pacifier when their kid is two years old, a lot of the time it’s because that two year old is literally a pass addict, right?

Eva: (12:41)
Where all day that pass is in the kid’s mouth all night, the pass is in that kid’s mouth. And then that’s bound to impact your little one’s teeth in a much more extreme way. Then if all they’re doing is sleeping with it. And so limiting the amount of time that your little one has what that pacifier, you know, what it does is that it gives you longevity. That’s what it does because the more that your little one is sucking on it throughout the day, the more it’s going to negatively impact their teeth, the quicker you are going to have to get rid of it. And so those situations really break my hearts because those situations involve a two year old who does not know what life is like without a pacifier in his mouth. And then he has to now go cold Turkey without it.

Eva: (13:32)
And that’s a really a hard transition for everyone. Um, you know, for both the baby and the mom. And so your best bet is just avoid that problem as much as you can. Um, and so don’t get your little one used to playing around with their pacifier during the day, just limit it, keep it in that so that it’s only ever used for sleep time or car rides or stroller rides, you know, to keep them calm when they’re on the go so that you limit the amount of time that the pacifier is in their mouth, which is going to limit the amount of problems that it’s going to cause your little to your little one’s teeth, which then will allow you to keep that pacifier for longer so that you’re not stuck getting rid of it. When they’re two years old. Now the only other time a pacifier might become a bit of a problem in the sleep department is when you have a little one in the four month mark to maybe seven and a half to eight month mark, where you have a baby who relies on the pacifier to fall asleep, who is aware of when that pacifier falls out and doesn’t have the fine motor skills yet to be able to put it back in their mouth on their own.

Eva: (14:56)
And so this is when it can sometimes be a problem and you may have to temporarily teach your little one how to sleep without it, but it depends on the situation. So take my Elena for example. So when was four months, she was always going down awake with the pacifier, but her version of the four month regression was waking up every 90 minutes all night long for that pacifier. Because as soon as it fell out, she would sooner or later realize that it wasn’t in her mouth and, and would wake up for it. And I would have to put it back in her mouth all night long. And at four months she doesn’t have the fine motor skills to put it back on her mouth on her own, not even close. And so this is a classic textbook situation of where the pacifier is not a tool it’s not helpful.

Eva: (15:49)
She needs to learn how to sleep with out it. And so that was precisely what I did out of, um, a basic need to survive cuz I was gonna literally lose my minds otherwise. And so for nighttime sleep purposes, she learned how to fall asleep on her own and sleep without it so that she wasn’t waking up for it all night long. Um, when she got a little bit older around that eight month mark, and I could see that she was able to pick it up and put it in her mouth on her own. I reintroduced it because it’s a very helpful sleep tool. Now she still slept with it. She still had it for car rides and stroller rides. And she, even if I recall had it for naps because it wasn’t causing problems at naptime, it was only causing problems at nighttime.

Eva: (16:37)
Now with my other two kids, I did not have to do that, even though they both relied on the pacifier to fall asleep at that four month mark, they never were waking up for it repeatedly throughout the night. So they relied on it, but not as heavily as Eliana did. And they learned on their own to keep themselves asleep throughout the night without the pacifier. I think with am Moona, maybe she’d wake up, you know, once, maybe twice here and there. Um, for that pacifier, which wasn’t terrible, I suppose mean I didn’t really know any better at the time, but, um, it wasn’t absolutely dreadful the way that it was with Eliana. And then thankfully it was the same way with JJ, where I saw that he would fall asleep without it, but then eventually he would fall out of his mouth and it didn’t wake him up.

Eva: (17:28)
And so the deal with the pacifier at this age is that it’s only a problem if it’s a problem. So know that there are some sleep consultants out there that just don’t like pacifiers at all. They are a believer that by the time you are sleep training, you know, four months, five months, six months that you should get rid of it completely. And I just wanna say, I am not of that belief. I am of the belief that it can be and often is an extremely helpful sleep tool. And that it’s really only a problem if it’s actually a problem, because let me tell you something. If you have an older baby that is waking up and expect you to come back and put it back in their mouth all night long, let me tell you a secret. You can just throw a bunch of pacifiers in there and let them grab their pacifier on their own to begin with.

Eva: (18:19)
You don’t have to be the pass slave all night long if you don’t want to be. So there is always a solution. If the pass is a problem and it doesn’t always need to involve getting rid of it, if you don’t wanna get rid of it. So that being said, remember that while the pass can be an extremely helpful sleep tool to help your little one sleep through the night, there are many other puzzle pieces that need to be in place first. And so if you wanna learn more about how to get your little wine consistently sleeping through the night so that you can be a functioning human again, don’t forget to check out my free masterclass that will take you through step by step. Exactly what you need to do to get there. That’s about it. Friends have a wonderful day. Take care.

Eva: (19:10)
Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, leave a review and share this episode with a friend who can benefit from it. I also love hearing from my listeners. So feel free to DM me on Instagram @mysleepingbaby, or send me an email at eva@mysleepingbaby.com until next time have a wonderful restful nights.

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