Friday, January 18, 2013

Are pacifier's evil? {Guest Post}

By Jacquelyn of LittleOwlCrunchyMomma.

Before Little Owl was born I was certain I would not use a pacifier. 

In hindsight I am not sure why I decided that. Perhaps I had some vague notion of a Freudian-esque issue that would develop. I didn't give it much thought, just decided to believe that it was a bad idea.

However, two months into being a mother I realized that perhaps I might need to rethink my position. I loved, cared for and doted on my daughter. She could not be lacking in comfort. (And if she was three months and mostly not wearing diapers, I could't be that out of touch with her.) She would give me, what I thought were cues of hunger, only to throw up. When I finally figured out that what she needed was something to suck that didn't overfill her little tummy, I decided to let her suck my fingers. And suck. And suck. I would switch to a different finger. She would suck and suck and suck. In order to fall asleep she needed to suck. My fingers were constantly in her mouth. 

Besides the fact that my hand would always twist into uncomfortable (which I didn't really mind) positions to put her to sleep, my fingers were raw. People suggested I try a pacifier. While it may not have seemed like a big deal to some, I was torn up inside. I felt it was somehow wrong. That it would somehow make me less of a loving mother.

Then one day I broke down. Holding my head in shame I bought a pacifier. A rubber pacifier. (At least she wouldn't be sucking plastic, right?). I took it home and sanitized it like the instructions specified. Almost flinching, I gave it to her. 

Let me say that it is no over-exaggeration to say she HATED it. Despised it. Did. Not. Want. It.

Oh the irony. So our dance continued. She continued to suck on my fingers, and I continued to get more and more sore. I had ten prunes for fingers. 

Then, she changed her mind. She took it. I was elated. Then, my feeling of relief (for my fingers) I remembered my pre-birth unspoken vow to never give my child a pacifier. 

I started to self-justify (mostly out of guilt). Where, again, had I gotten the idea that they were bad? The vague idea that they were only invented post-industrialization by mothers who really didn't care about their kids? That they were bad for my baby, bad for her teeth, our bonding, our love, would give her a complex, etc, etc.?

Rather than take it away (because, after all, it was working and she liked it--a lot) I decided to do some research. 

Take a look at this:

This is a painting done in 1506 by Albrecht Durer. Take a look at what the baby has in his hand. Yup. You guessed. A pacifierSure, it's not made from silicone, rubber, or plastic, but it's a pacifier nonetheless. It's called a "rag bag" to be more precise.

Prior to the invention of what are now know as "pacifiers" (which didn't make their debut until the 20th century) mothers used to stuff all sorts of things (honey, sugar, fat, alcohol, bones) into rags, tie them off and give them to their infants to suck on. (At least my baby wasn't sucking on brandy!) Sometimes (as in the advertisement pictured at the beginning of this post) they were made out of bone or wood. Or, if you were really rich you had one carved out of ivory or silver. (Know the expression "born with a silver spoon in his mouth"? Yup. That's from a pacifier.)

Mothers dear, we've been doing this for a long time. Despite advice from (all male, mind you) doctors, dentists, and psychologists, we have been answering to our babies needs. 

If you have one of those babies who don't need to suck continuously or who find their fingers early, more power to you. For those of us whose babies don't, there are options. And there have been options for a long time.


  1. I try to limit the use of mine - mainly it is just when she needs comfort. I got a cloth waldorf doll for Christmas, so I am trying to transition to that. Mainly she only uses them when we are about to go for a car ride, and she is in that half asleep/half awake phase.

    I felt horrible the first time I gave her one too. But, a happy mommy is best, and sometimes Mommy needs a break from attention.

  2. Before being a mom, I always thought soothers were evil. Pregnant with the first baby, I bought 2 just in case. Although I still can't stand seeing 3-4 year olds with a soother constantly, I think its totally fine for them to be soothed at night or naptime. I'd rather it be something I can take away eventually then like them using their fingers or thumbs. Can't take those away.

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