Monday, July 14, 2008
Binky and the Pain
Binky, Paci, Nuk. I didn't think I was going to be a pacifier person. Before Penny was born, I thought, "My child isn't going to need a binky," because for some reason, in my judgmental brain, I considered them to be some kind of crutch. I'm not sure why I had that opinion. I'm not a fan of the way they look in babies' mouths, so maybe that was part of it. I know that in Australia, they call pacifiers "dummies," so that was definitely another reason to be prejudiced against them.
The pacifier issue is one that garners a lot of debate, so before I became a mother who relies heavily on the pacifier every day, I asked the occupational therapist at my school about them. He's a dad himself and works with children who have feeding/sucking/swallowing issues. I asked him if pacifiers were good or bad? He told me that pacifiers are like guns and alcohol. They can be fun but must be used responsibly. This worried me a little because I wasn't sure I was the responsible type. He pointed out that they can be a problem if the binky is used as a substitute for food. Ah, ok. That would be bad. He told me that my baby would let me know when she needed a pacifier and when she didn't want one. I thought that was pretty cool, but I was still worried. But what if I don't get the message? What if I can't figure out what my baby wants when the time comes?
Then Penny was born and for a small period of time she wasn't really into the pacifier. I thought, ok, she doesn't need it. Woohoo! And then I tried it once during a crying jag and the effect was miraculous. Uh-oh. Then I consulted the BOOKS (*screams*) and had to sort through all of the conflicting information based on other people's strong opinions. Here is a list of pros and cons I have read and heard from others:
May prevent SIDS
May prevent ear infections because it encourages swallowing
Fulfills need to suck
Elicits calming reflex
Can be removed (as opposed to thumb sucking)
Can sabotage/shorten duration of breastfeeding
Can interfere with jaw/tooth alignment if it continues too long
Easy to "pop in" instead of determining the reason for crying
Baby (and parents) can become dependent on it
Can interfere with vocalizing
May CAUSE ear infections?
So now that I have a baby who is calmed by her binky, I am finding myself using it as an easy fix and I know this is bad. It helps her fall asleep, keeps her calm in the car and happier in general. I don't want her to rely on it too much, and yet *I* rely on it every day. So I'm going to have to work on that. For now, my goal is to not obsess too much, but to try to evaluate the situation when I give her the binky (or give it back to her when it falls out). Does she really need it? Is she trying to tell me something? And then our next step will be to see if she can fall asleep without it at night.
The funny thing is, my dad told me that he and my mom used a pacifier with me, which surprised me. I hadn't seen any baby pictures of me with one, so I assumed that he and my mom were superparents who didn't have to use a pacifier. My dad told me that one night he had to go to the store to find a new pacifier because they lost mine and I was inconsolable. I felt a lot better after hearing this, because I think I turned out ok and wasn't scarred for life because of a stupid binky....although I DO habitually chew on pen lids. Hmmm.
And hey, at least I'm not giving Penny a rag soaked in brandy to suck on. We've come a long way, in a sense.