Parents' Issues: I Never Thought I'd Give My Child a Pacifier

By EduGuide Staff

"You're not going to let that child have his pacifier?"

"That child" was my one-year-old son, and the outraged critic was my mother. In her world of family ideas, the best normal babies gave up pacifiers by about three months of age. They certainly didn't carry them around after their first birthday.

She had a point. I wasn't crazy about letting my child walk around with a pacifier, even though it did calm him down and helped him sleep at night. Still, some of my friends' babies were giving up their pacifiers on their own. Mine, most stubbornly, was not. According to Grandma, that was not okay.

Mothers may know best, but researchers also know a thing or two about parents' issues. It seems that one study showed that 12-month-olds whose mothers left them with a pacifier in a room full of toys stayed longer, explored more and played more with toys than one-year-olds without a pacifier. A pacifier seemed to calm the babies' fears, so they explored more-a very good thing if you want your child to learn and grow.

My mother wasn't convinced. "But the sucking will hurt his teeth."

Doctors disagree on this, it turns out. Some think that sucking on a thumb or pacifier will deform a baby's teeth. Some believe babies' thumbs are worse for this, but that anatomically correct pacifiers are okay. I checked with my dentist, who didn't find any cause for alarm.

I'm trying to limit the pacifier to naps and nighttime. Still, I try to understand and respect my son's need to be comforted by sucking. I'm told he'll give up these habits on his own when he is ready.

I just hope it's before we visit Grandma again.


Source: Parenting the First Year, Month 12. University of Wisconsin-Extension, NCR Publication No. 321. 1999.