Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Does A Baby Need A Pacifier?

To Pacify or Not To Pacify? That is the Question

This heated debate among parents, pediatricians, pediatric dentists, educators and health care professionals is enthralling to me. I stand very strongly on one side of the discussion and it's difficult for me to be nice about it. I strongly alluded to my personal preference to pacifiers in my second blog post last July. Sadness churns inside me upon seeing a child with the 'ubiquitous plug' in their mouth... it's almost as bad, in my opinion, as giving a child, younger than three, a smart phone. But let's focus.

But, Mama I wanted to express my emotions!

There are two distinct sides to the pacifier debate. The renown Mayo Clinic offers excellent 'pros and cons' to weigh a decision for parents. The American Association of Family Physicians goes into even greater detail discussing both viewpoints. Finally, Web MD offers some interesting takes on the do or don't opinions. There seems to be a middle ground. 

"Chillin' with my pacifier"

Many professional sites offer a compromise. The condensed version might go something like this (I encourage you to read the four linked articles above):
  •  Breast feed for the first month until your baby is well bonded.
  •  Introduce the pacifier mainly to help to prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome). Placing baby to sleep on their back is the first step. 
  •  The pacifier can help to relieve children in pain by calming them down.
  •  Use one piece pacifiers, keep clean and replace often. 
  •  Be aware of an increase in infections, and particularly middle ear infections. 
  •  Plan to ween your infant off of the pacifier between 6 - 12 months (good luck). 
  •  Pacifier use longer than one year may result in orthodontic issues.
Now, Let's look at Webster's definition of the word pacify:
a :  to allay the anger or agitation of :  soothe pacify a crying child
b :  appeasepropitiate
a :  to restore to a tranquil state :  settle made an attempt to pacify the commotion
b :  to reduce to a submissive state :  subdue forces moved in to pacify the country

Certainly, I believe in pacifism: noun - the belief that any violence, including war, is unjustifiable under any circumstancesand that all disputes should be settled by peaceful means • the refusal to participate in war or military service because of such a belief.

Hmmm, tasty
Being a pacifist, I'm proud to state that I've never been in a physical brawl (nor do I intend to). Modeling pacifism and empathy is paramount to raising children who can help to care for our precious Earth and all it's living things, including human beings. 
But, it's the 2-b definition of Pacify, "to reduce to a submissive state" that bothers me. 
submissiveadjective - ready to conform to the authority or will of others; meekly obedient or passive.

Parents! Don't let your children grow up to be submissive

My daughter did not use a pacifier. She was a big thumb sucker. It was her decision to 'suck or not to suck'. If she was tired she would, very naturally, suck her thumb with her left hand and twist her long brown curly hair, on the back of her head, with her right hand. Anna, now 27, still twirls her long brown curly hair when she is tired (I think she's given up thumb sucking). 

But, the thesis for my adamant stand against pacifiers is that they are an artificial sedative, that, in my view, pediatricians recommend and parents use because it makes their job easier. 

Papa Green Bean and Anna reading and relaxing

The only valid reason, that is justifiable, comes from research showing a lowered risk of SIDS with pacifier use. Also, in special cases, as pain relief for preterm infants and other hospital related visits before the age of six months.

A child should have every reason to mimic sounds, babble away, and explore with their mouths in every conceivable manner they can creatively come up with. The last thing any parent should want for their child is for them to be submissive. It breeds co-dependency, passive-aggressive behavior & compliance, among other less desirable human traits. The anxiety for child and parents associated with weening the child off the pacifier is reason enough for never going there. Some parents resort to coating the nipple with a foul tasting substance, or snipping the end and telling the child it needs to be thrown out. Yes, deception is being introduced into the parent-child relationship. This should never be part of raising a child. Only honesty from day one.

Anna and PGB having a father-daughter moment

Sometimes, I bother and insult people with my direct methods to get their attention. I apologize, in advance, to those whose child is happy and content using a pacifier, and I've raised their dander with my relatively harsh remarks. But, I stand my ground. Now, about giving your child a smart phone to keep them sedated while you're at a restaurant... ever try a sugar coated 'binky'?

Live, Love, Laugh, Papa Green Bean