Tag Archives: object permanence

Do you want your baby to look like Maggie Simpson?

Even before a baby is born, it enjoys non-nutritive sucking, that is, sucking just for fun.  Many ultrasound photos show this behavior.  Sucking a fist, thumb or pacifier can be self-soothing.  The important thing to remember is that babies stop getting endorphins from non-nutritive sucking by 6 months old.  Endorphins are brain chemicals that make you feel good.  (Sex and chocolate both cause the adult brain to release endorphins.)

Using a pacifier to distract an infant during a particularly unpleasant brief event is a good use of a pacifier.  Putting a pacifier into a baby’s mouth every time it makes a sound is not appropriate.  Babies are supposed to be noisy for goodness sake!  Do you put candy in your kindergartener’s mouth every time he gets loud?  Of course not.  Is a pacifier candy?  No but still, think of Maggie Simpson.

Pacifiers certainly have their uses but I see them overused.  By 6 months old, a child should be able to self-soothe without a pacifier.  Interestingly, this is before object permanence develops and therefore eliminating the pacifier suddenly will be well-tolerated.  The pacifier after 6 months is often used to make noisy babies or children be quiet.  I see far too many children take their pacifier out of their mouth to repeat what they said because their mother didn’t understand them with the paci in their mouth.

If you are going to stop the paci habit, choose a day and make it happen.  The Farmers Almanac has a day each month that is well-suited to weaning baby animals.  Will starting on this day make it easier?  I don’t know but it can’t hurt.