Paci? No Paci? Surprise: The Rules Are Changing. Again.

I’ve never bought into the whole nipple confusion thing. Maybe it’s because my babies latched on immediately to both bottle and boob (this, following a sea of drugs from labor and c-sections). And perhaps I’m bitter from the natural community scaring me senseless as I went into labor with Fia. Tales of drugs, pacifiers and bottles were all the ways your baby wouldn’t latch on, despite scientific evidence to the contrary (at least with labor drugs, like the epidural). This week I got a slight chuckle out of the latest study: pacifiers actually promote breastfeeding. Ha!

Before I get too smug, I will echo what my fellow blogger, Berit wrote in her post on this (click here to read her blog): Rules are forever changing–and yes, it is maddening! Each study seems to contradict another one, which contradicts another one, until it comes back full circle and negates them all. So I won’t smirk…yet. What I will say (and echoing Berit again) is to go with your mom gut. Here’s why:

If I had listened to the nipple confusion thing, Phil would have never given Emmett or Fia a bottle for the first 6 weeks. It would have been all me, all the time. I would have been frustrated and completely tethered. I have mom friends who have been tethered for the first year because they didn’t introduce a bottle those first few weeks. By the time it was “right” to introduce one, it was too late. The babies refused and only took the boob. I think that can lead to some of us moms (uh-em…myself…thus hypnotherapy) becoming martyrs about having to “do it all.” In this day and age, with dads pulling almost equal weight (ha!), let them into the world of feeding.

Phil and I decided he’d give a bottle because it would be good bonding time. It’s his ritual to give the last bottle before bedtime, as I slip away and get a jump start on my sleep. Neither of us would give that up for anything. He loves it. As do I. And I’m sure it helps the babies know their dad even more.

What’s funny about the no-pacifier-now-maybe-debunked-theory is that for both my births, the nurses passed them out like candy at a parade. It was like Flying Nurses–they’d breeze through, chucking them into cribs. Okay, not really. But the paci’s were everywhere. Then, inevitably, a lactation consultant would come in and give me the nipple confusion spiel. Since Fia’s birth left me feeling like I had been hit by a bus, I was too confused to care. With Emmett, I chose to ignore.  We’ve all been better off for it. In fact, I am trying to get Emmett more addicted to his pacifier. Fia sucked on hers like a lollipop. Still does at nap time. She’ll go to PA (Pacifiers Anonymous) soon. Emmett on the other hand tends to suck for a bit, then spit it out. Come on baby, you got addictive genes in this family. Use them!

To put the entire feeding and soothing process (NO PACIFIERS!) on the mom not only becomes exhausting, but I think it can also rob a Dad or other loved ones of special moments they might not get otherwise. Not to mention the risk of the baby refusing everything but the boob.

So I take “observational” studies like this with a grain of salt. Like Berit, I am going with my instinct. It has served me well thus far.

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  1. by Erin

    On May 2, 2012 at 8:27 am

    “Tethered?” uh… it’s not called “teathered” it is called “parenting!” It’s a biological predisposition for mothers to be “tethered” to their babies for their first year! Too many reasons for this, and why it is healthy, to list here, but if you don’t want to be “tethered” by young children, don’t have any!

  2. by TIna

    On May 2, 2012 at 8:46 am

    My daughter used a pacifier and never had any issues. Why not give your child an opportunity to self–soothe. There is also evidence that it decreases the risk of SIDS when used at night. That was all I needed to hear.

  3. by Jill Cordes

    On May 2, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Erin–are you saying dads shouldn’t be a part of the process should they choose? And what about moms who have to go back to work after 3 months? Should they not have children? I think to say that you shouldn’t have children if you don’t want to be tethered for the first year is incredibly narrow minded and exclusionary–especially in this day and age.

  4. by Sandy

    On May 2, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    When I was pregnant I thought there’s no way I will let my kid suck on a pacifier and end up being one of those three year olds with one. But my son ended up loving it and it got me out of so many potentially ugly situations that I have no regrets. (quieted him during a wedding, on plane rides, when sick, etc). I have to get rid of it now and it’s going to suck but it was worth it! PS My son took to the paci, the boob AND the bottle, so clearly he had no nipple confusion or other issues.

  5. by Eva Peron

    On May 2, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    What I love about this piece is your theory that lots of “theories” are about getting the mom to do everything, as if anything less will scar the baby for life. Always hold, always nurse, always co-sleep, always, always, always. How about … moderation? When 70 percent of moms are working outside the home, how can we continue to put this kind of weird pressure on moms? While effectively leaving dads out of the nurturing game? Enough. Thank you for this piece. I’d say food for thought — but more like paci.

  6. by Janet

    On May 2, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    As I always say, everything with parenting has to be on a case by case basis. My daughter uses her pacifiers only to sleep and I am OK with that. Do I judge other moms who let their kids walk around all day with them? No – whatever works for them. I wouldn’t want a non-paci Mom to judge me for what I let happen. Studies will be out there to serve both sides, but the bottom line is, your kid can do a lot worse loving his/her paci.

    And Erin – I have to go with Jill on this one. It is not easy for the Mom to have to do everything. I breast fed my daughter, but also gave her bottles, pacis, etc. And she got bottles from the beginning so my husband could participate and it also gave me a break. I was with her all day and it was his turn to help out. We are both her parents, so isn’t that how it should be? To indicate that I shouldn’t have had a child because I feel that way is just another example of judgmental mommy syndrome!

  7. by Nakeli

    On May 3, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    My daughter had a paci until 2 months before her 3rd birthday. She never had any problems with breastfeeding. I have friends who exclusively breastfed their babies, and their babies can’t sleep more than 2 hours a night without having to be nursed back to sleep. I just couldn’t do that as a full time working mom.

  8. by Bizellis

    On May 4, 2012 at 11:44 pm

    My thought on pacifiers, bottles, potty training, sippy cups…whatever someone else is yelling “will ruin your child” at parents is this…as long as they aren’t doing it when they walk down the aisle, it’s all good. Additionally, I enjoyed the image of flying nurses.

  9. by Betie

    On May 5, 2012 at 9:05 am

    To look at it as being “tethered” is not right, I understand that some moms have to go back to work shortly after childbirth but if you have the opportunity to breastfeed for longer you should, if dad wants to be involved then pump and let him feed the baby, there is nothing wrong with allowing him to be involved but I thing Erin makes a valid point, if you are going to look at it as being “tethered” to your child it is as if they are a inconvenience to you, breastfeeding does not “tether” you to your child, you can always pump and store it and use a bottle when it is needed, and paci’s well they are awesome… my first son gave his up at 6 months, my youngest who is now 10 months and strictly breastfed,as I am lucky enough to work in child care and my kids go to work with me, he started using a paci when he started teething cuz the whole biting thing was not fun, he loves his paci now but normally only when his teeth are bothering him and when he sleeps, however at one that thing is gone, I am not giving it to him all the time and allowing him to figure out other methods of self soothing because he wont be that three year old with a paci, or even two year old running around with a paci, not good for those teeth!! But every child is different and there is no right or wrong on giving the paci or not, there is issues with age limits but thats another topic. oh and my breastfed baby has slept through the night since he was a couple months old…

  10. by Kimyan

    On May 5, 2012 at 10:56 am

    I have 2 children 12 and 2. My 12 year old wasn’t interested in the paci, she actually threw hers away around 1. She breastfeed and bottle feed, but preferred the bottle. My 2 yr old on the other hand was totally different. He was breast addicted, but I had to go back to work when he was 8 weeks old so he was bottle fed as well and didn’t seem to really mind, and had been using a paci since he was around 2 weeks old (i was the human paci for a while) He did really well with bottle and breast feeding but preferred breast.. and he was hard to ween, which fostered his STRONG addiction to the paci, which as about a month ago we finally got rid of. He was worse than weening from the breast (I felt SO bad for him he would feign for it)
    Now we are on to potty training, God help us all!!
    The thing is… Experts and research are great guides, however every baby and family are different. I got a lot of eye rolling and unwelcomed comments on my 2 yr old walking through Walmart w/his paci, but at the end of the day. He was happy and so was I and that is what mattered to me.
    I agree with Jill and a few other moms here. Trust you mommy gut. If your tired and stressed out you can’t be 100% with a baby who could care less that your tired and stressed out.
    Good luck moms, and try not to let the “opinions and thoughts” of others get to you…

  11. by Grace

    On May 5, 2012 at 10:32 pm

    pacifiers. no pacifiers. bottles. no bottles. are you poisoning your kid? NO! are you happy? YES! are your kids happy? YES! do what’s best for you AND more importantly, your kid. every child is different and everyone will adapt to what works for them. you have the right attitude, Jill. I’m so happy it’s all going smoothly! remember, enjoy every day!

  12. by Sarah

    On May 6, 2012 at 7:41 pm

    Wow. The things we say to one another are astounding. Of course we all have felt “tethered” to our children at some point in their development. Jill can flat out admit it, which is refreshing to hear. Short of witnessing abuse, I absolutely do not think that we should judge one another. I mean, really? Someone’s criticizing Jill for finding a way to get enough sleep, and it also allows her husband to be involved in the nurturing of their newborn? Really? Does that seem petty to anyone else?

    My son nursed for six months and used a pacifier for nine. He would never take a bottle; I don’t know why. He weaned himself at six months (coincidentally the time we introduced solids in the form of scrambled eggs and infant cereal to him). We took the pacifier away at nine months because I figured it’d be easier then than down the road. That didn’t phase him at all. He has slept through the night since the night we brought him home. Are these things interconnected? Probably. But the driving factor, I’m sure, is always his personality. He’s just always ready for the next step, and we let him take it.

  13. by Maurern

    On May 31, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Erin is a judgemental, B!

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