Should I Remove Pacifier When Baby is Sleeping?
The other night as I was rocking my little one to sleep, her favorite pacifier fell out of her mouth and onto the floor. She started fussing so I popped it right back in, but then I started wondering - should I even be using a pacifier at bedtime?
My friend Jane was saying how she read somewhere that it's better to take the pacifier away once baby drifts off, but then I talked to my mom and she said "nonsense, just leave the binky be!" Now I don't know what to think. On one hand, I don't want to disrupt my baby’s sleep, but I also don't want to form a bad habit, you know?
This is a message from a new mom in need, and I'm wondering if you're going through the same thing. So why not check out Kaiya Angel's article on whether you should take your baby's pacifier away during sleep? I think you'll find the answers you're looking for.
Can a newborn sleep with a pacifier?
Pacifiers are actually totally cool for newborns to use while snoozing. Those first few months babies spend a lot of time eat-sleep-poop repeat, so anything that helps soothe them is usually a-okay in my book.
As for does it affect their sleep, nah not really. Newborns are still getting used to the whole world outside the womb thing so their sleep is pretty crappy regardless at that stage. Some key things though - make sure babe is actually latching on good and not just gumming it. You don't want them swallowing it by accident. Also only use it for sleep/naps, not all the time so they don't get dependent.
Safety tips for pacifier use in newborns
Wait for breastfeeding: If you're breastfeeding, wait until your baby is about one month old or breastfeeding is well-established before introducing a pacifier. This ensures that breastfeeding is not negatively affected.
Use an age-appropriate pacifier: Choose a pacifier specifically designed for newborns. It should have a one-piece construction and be free of small parts that could pose a choking hazard.
Keep it clean: Regularly clean and sterilize the pacifier to prevent the buildup of harmful bacteria. A quick rinse with warm, soapy water is usually sufficient.
Offer it gently: Don't force a pacifier on your baby if they're not interested. Some babies simply may not like them, and that's okay.
Avoid pacifier clips: Avoid attaching pacifiers to your baby's clothing or crib with clips or strings, as they can be a strangulation risk.
Monitor usage: Be mindful of your baby's pacifier usage. If it falls out during sleep, it's generally best not to reinsert it. Babies will often go back to sleep without it.
Should you remove your baby's pacifier while they're sleeping?
On one hand, leaving it in can keep bub soothed and reduce night wakings which is great for everyone's sleep. But over time it could lead to a dependence that's hard to break later on.
Taking it out once they're out cold gives them a chance to learn to self-soothe without it. But it can also cause some freakouts if they're used to having it.
Personally, what I did was leave it in at first to establish a good sleep routine. Once they were around 6 months, I started taking it out after they conked out. That way they got used to falling asleep with it but also knew how to nod off without.
There was a bit of fuss at first but it paid off in the long run since bub wasn't super reliant on the pacifier anymore.
So in conclusion mama, do what works for you and bub. But around 6 months is a good time to start the slow transition if you wanna wean them off eventually.
Are pacifiers designed for all sleep times?
The short answer is that pacifiers are generally fine for daytime naps and night sleep, but some parents choose to use different strategies as babies get older.
When they're tiny newborns, pacifiers are great for soothing during all sleep - those first few months sleep is still pretty irregular anyway. The pacifier helps them feel cozy.
As they get to be around 4-6 months, some parents start only using pacifiers at night. This can help distinguish night sleep from daytime sleep cues. Babes sleep longer stretches since the pacifier keeps them comfy through the night.
By the time solids are in full swing at 6 months, ditching the pacifier for daytime naps might make sense. This allows baby to practice self-soothing with their hands instead of relying on the pacifier.
Nighttime is still a good time for a pacifier though, since night wakings can occur as they grow. The pacifier helps them drift back off.
What are the potential pacifier pitfalls?
Delayed speech development - Babies who use pacifiers for too long may be slower to start talking as it can affect the development of their mouth muscles. Most speech issues clear up once weaned.
Dental problems - Long-term pacifier use after teeth emerge has been linked to issues like improper bite alignment and even dental cavities depending on cleaning routines.
Difficulty weaning - If a child has used a pacifier for sleep/comfort for many years, it can be really hard on them to break that association and they may resist heavily when parents try to take it away.
Sleep interruptions - If a pacifier falls out of the mouth during sleep, it can wake a baby up as they search for it. This disrupts rest.
Swallowing/choking hazard - Small parts breaking off some pacifiers pose a risk, so they aren't recommended after a certain age.
Crankiness - Suddenly taking away a comfort like a pacifier cold turkey can cause quite a bit of fussing as the child adjusts.
Improper use - Pacifiers should not be dipped in anything sweet like honey or hung around the child's neck, as this increases health risks.
Proper use for a limited time period can avoid most issues. But excessive reliance on a pacifier is what tends to result in problems long-term.
When should babies stop sleeping with a pacifier?
Here are some general guidelines for when babies can stop sleeping with a pacifier.
Around 6 months: Many experts recommend starting to phase out pacifier use for sleep between 6-7 months. This is a good age to begin the process since it's before crawling/walking.
12-18 months: Most toddlers can fully wean from a pacifier by 12-18 months. At this point they're developing more independence and can typically self-soothe to fall asleep without it.
At latest by age 2: The AAP recommends stopping pacifier use by 24 months, as after that age speech delays can potentially occur if they're still using one.
When cutting teeth: If the child is exhibiting signs they're about to cut molars or front teeth, it's best to wean the pacifier to prevent dental issues.
No dependence on it: If the pacifier is only used occasionally and the child doesn't seem reliant on it every sleep, there's no major rush to stop before age 2.
Gradually reduce use: Taking it away slowly over weeks by phasing out the pacifier for naps then specific bedtimes works best versus cold turkey which causes upset.
So aim for between 6-18 months depending on your child's individual development and level of pacifier reliance. Go at their pace to make the transition smooth.
In the end, the decision regarding the use of a pacifier during sleep will depend on what feels right for you and your baby. Every baby is unique, and there's no one-size-fits-all answer. Whether you decide to leave the binky be or consider other options, remember that you're doing your best to provide comfort and care for your little one.
An expert in sleep sack design, is a valued contributor to Kaiya Angel's blog. With a strong background in baby sleep bags and maternal care, she is highly regarded for her professionalism. Yujia Shi prioritizes baby comfort and safety in her designs, using high-quality materials. Her insightful articles on sleep bags have been featured in reputable publications and have gained a significant readership. Trust Yujia Shi to help you create a comfortable and safe sleep environment for your baby, backed by her proven track record in the industry.