I’ll be honest, seven years ago when I had my first child, I was an anti-pacifier mother. I fully understood and believed in the power of self-soothing and encouraged my babies to suck till their heart was content, but just not by way of a pacifier. Instead, in the beginning we let baby suck on our fingers a lot (sounds strange but it was always effective and we always washed our hands first!), and after a few weeks both of our babies were successful at finding their own fingers/thumb, and we encouraged the habit, as it led to calmer, happier and better rested babies. Years later though, with the birth of baby number 3 we are encouraging the pacifier and here’s why.
Seven and five years after both of my children successfully found their fingers (my daughter sucks her 2 fingers and my son his thumb), each of them are still sucking away with wild abandon. It’s a habit we have tried unsuccessfully to get them to stop. It’s a habit that has gone up and down over the years, but has always been consistently present. While neither of them suck their fingers at school, both suck out of boredom, when sad or upset, when watching TV or reading a book, and while going to sleep and throughout the night.
We were encouraged by everyone from our dentist, to the kid’s preschool teacher to their pediatrician, to let the habit go on through Kindergarten as it is such a huge change for the kids. At the end of Kindergarten we tried to get her to stop by first applying that yucky tasting nail polish, and while it caused weeks of restless nights from her not sleeping well, we got her to stop for a few months. But then she started 1st grade…
The habit started right back up and when we tried to use the polish again to get it back in check, it didn’t work at all. Now that we are 2 months into 2nd grade, I’m concerned that further, more dramatic intervention will be needed. The same goes for my 5-year-old son.
So here we are with baby number 3, and I don’t look down on those pacifiers as I once did. The pacifier can be taken away, while fingers and thumbs can’t. Yes, there will be nights when we have to go in his nursery in the middle of the night to stick the pacifier back in, but that seems like a small price to pay to prevent an even longer habit of forming.
Each parent has to make a decision as to what is right for their family and child in these kinds of areas, and I’m in no way saying finger or thumb sucking is bad or wrong, as they’ve helped soothe my babies very well for years. But as they get older and we need to start thinking of braces and dental work and all those other types of expensive things, if I had to do it over again, I probably wouldn’t have discouraged the use of a pacifier as much as I did. Oh how our perspective and views change the longer we go on this parenting journey of ours, right?
So did your baby use a pacifier or suck his thumb, and if so, were you able to get them to break the habit when it was time to do so?