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Choosing a Pacifier; Then Breaking the Habit
Picking a Paci....
Pacifiers are a saviour in early infancy. They soothe your baby and they satisfy your baby's need to suck on something. Picking a pacifier and then breaking the habit are both daunting tasks, but I'm going to try to break it down a little bit.
Pacifiers come in a few types. Orthodontic, regular, and pacifiers that are meant to be shaped like mom. Orthodontic specify that they're orthodontic. Orthodontic pacifiers are pacifiers made so that they do not mess with a child's oral (tooth) development. Regular pacifiers are just your average pacifier, such as the Playtex Binky. Pacifiers that are meant to be like mom are the Soothie and the Gumdrop.
No two pacifiers are the same though, so it's a process of finding what shape your child likes the most and the type you want your child to have. This I'm going to try to help with.
MAM and Avent orthodontic pacifiers are more bulb shaped.
Nuk, Playtex, and Dr. Brown orthodontic pacifiers try to take on a shape closer to a mother's nipple shape once inside an infants mouth. Its this shape that, in my own opinion, fits better within a child's mouth, and both of my children have prefered this shape over the MAM and Avent bulb shapes.
Once a chlid hits about 6months and over, Playtex orthodontic becomes the best choice in a tooth alignment perspective. Closer to the shield, right where your child's bite is, there is an indent. The purpose of this indent is so your child's bite can grow straight down as its supposed to, instead of slightly jutted out.
If your looking for a pacifier with cute designs, the MAM and Avent pacifiers have the best designs. Playtex and Dr. Brown stay mostly to solid colors. At about about 6months and over, Playtex is nothing but solids, at least that's all I've been able to find in stores. Nuk pacifiers do have designs, but they're limited to an extent.
If you want a pacifier that is supposed to feel to your child like its you, then its the Soothie pacifier, which is the one that hospitals carry, and the Gumdrop by The First Years. These pacifiers look like a bottle nipple more, and are rubber without a separate shield like the others. These come in solid colors like a green-ish blue, purple, and pink. I don't think I've ever seen a child that actually likes these. Both of my children hated them, and had a hard time getting them to stay in their mouths and being able to get a good suck on them. Nuk has come out with a new shape that does look a lot more like a natural nipple in a child's mouth, shape wise, and although my children haven't been able to test these yet, from the look, they're still closer to the regular Nuk shape, but a bit more pointed and slightly wider. If you were to look at a medical picture of what shape a mother's nipple really does take when in a child's mouth these are incredibly close, and this shape isn't just for Nuk's new line of pacifiers, but also their new line of bottles as well.
....Then kicking the habit
Breaking the pacifier habit is a lot harder than starting it, as is any habit. Experts say you should break the habit at 9 months, and at the latest 18 months because the child starts to rely on the pacifier too much. I personally think its just as much an issue of when the parent is ready to let go of the pacifier as the child's. My oldest, sadly, was 4 by the time I broke the habit with him, but I wasn't ready to let go of him having the pacifier myself yet. It helped keep him calm in stores, stifle unwanted outbrusts while running errands, get a quick nap in the car, everything. Yes its horrible to see an older child with a pacifier, but sometimes the parents need it. Just try to ge the habit broken before the child starts school.
Okay, now the hard part of how to break this habit.
My oldest took 3 days after having it for a little over 4 years. You'll hear a lot of screaming and crying, but be strong.
Experts say to start out by limiting it to just naps and bedtime, then just bedtime, and then you get rid of it altogether. Its a slow weaning process that should take about a week. My oldest already pretty much only used it for just naps and bedtimes, although it did help him adjust to crowded settings in stores. I took it away one night he screamed and pleaded, but by about night 3 or 4, he stopped asking and was fine. Breaking the paci, as we call it, also broke the blankie habit. Some children are a bit harder to break. Sometimes you have to get creative, and this next idea also helps your child learn some empathy. Some parents like to tell a story of the Paci Fairy, which is a fairy your child gives all his or her old pacifiers too, and the fairy gives it to babies and children that don't have pacifiers. Sometimes this story works and your child gladly gives up his or her paci, sometimes the child is too attached and you have to go cold turkey once you've gotten the usage limited to naps and bedtimes. Whichever one it is, you have to stick with it. No matter how much your child pleads, don't give in. It can be hard, but it'll be worth it. After your child is over it, its almost like it never happened. My youngest is 3 months, has a paci, and her brother never complains about wanting his back. He's gotten use to the idea that he's too old for his now and knows he doesn't need it anymore, but understands she's little and does need it. Don't worry, it all works out and the habits over before you know it.