Offering Baby a Binky
The Promise: I will never offer my baby a Binky.
"Before I had a baby, I thought pacifiers were for the parents' benefit, so they wouldn't have to listen to crying," says Whitney Moss, cofounder and publisher of RookieMoms.com. But when her son was an infant, she realized just how soothing sucking can be. Car rides in particular were stressful until Moss started passing her son a paci. "All of our lives improved," she says. "And he loved it."
The Reality: They're called pacifiers for a reason.
Babies interact with the world primarily through their mouths, and sucking (whether it's on your breast, a bottle, or a pacifier) is one of the most soothing sensations for your tot, Dr. Jana says. So why do pacifiers get such a bad rap? For a newborn, using one may interfere with breastfeeding, because babies often find it easier to suck on a paci than to breastfeed. Fortunately, "by around 4 weeks, most infants have figured out how to nurse and developed a good latch, so using the Binky is no big deal," Dr. Jana says. In fact, the AAP actually endorses pacifier use at naptime and bedtime, because recent studies have shown that sucking on one while falling asleep can significantly decrease an infant's risk for SIDS. (Researchers think this is a result of the sucking motion, which may keep babies slightly more alert and responsive during sleep.)
Make sure you check on Baby's needs, though, before reflexively popping in a paci when he's fussy, Dr. Jana says. (If his diaper is wet, he needs a change, not a pacifier.) She also recommends weaning your child off his Binky by age 1, when the risk for SIDS has passed. "After that, the habit is harder to break. Plus, as kids learn to communicate verbally, the pacifier may interfere with speech," she says. Visit americanbaby.com/binky for tips on curbing the paci habit.