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October 13th, 2008
10:47 AM ET

Ban the bink?

By Shahreen Abedin
CNN Medical Senior Producer

My husband and I recently took our baby to visit our hometown, Dallas, Texas, where his grandparents still live. We met up with many of their old friends, tons of "aunties" who couldn’t stop cooing over our little tyke who somehow already knows how to work a crowd.

I was a bit annoyed, however, when one of my mom’s friends tried to shame me for letting our baby suck on his pacifier. “Tsk, tsk. It’s bad for him” she admonished - she whom I haven’t seen in about 10 years. I blew her off; we get all kinds of unsolicited input, and I’ve learned to ignore most of it. But this one continues to irk me.

Her fear: that the baby will become addicted to his bink, and then one day, it’s hello orthodontist! She’s not the only one I’ve encountered with this view. Several of the nannies whom I interviewed were adamantly against pacifier use. Some were openly critical of it even though we had just met minutes before. So much stigma.

I’ve read all the pros and cons on the topic and I am unconvinced that it’s going to become a problem for us. We use it only when he’s going down to sleep, and we don’t let him keep it in his mouth for more than a couple of minutes after he awakens.

Some say that it’s better to let him use the bink instead of sucking his fingers, because at least you can take the bink away but once he’s used to thumb sucking, it’s a lot harder to halt that habit. Besides, pacifiers have been associated with lowered risks of SIDS .

And, they really, truly help our wee one sleep better. Dr. Harvey Karp, author of the parental lifesaver “The Happiest Baby on the Block”, includes sucking on a bink as one of the 5 “S’s” that help replicate the comforting experience of being in the womb for babies who are in their first months of life in the real world. Even though our baby is 10 months old, it still works like a switch that immediately helps him relax and melt into slumber. In fact, we didn’t give our baby a pacifier at first until we realized how much it helps to calm him, especially when he’s fussing in the car or has become so overtired that he can’t fall asleep anymore. Plus, I was breastfeeding back then and I read that it just works better not to confuse that little mouth near the beginning.

IMHO, getting baby to sleep is hard enough for most parents (except the luckiest among us), so I think, why not rely on some help from that heavenly silicone soother? Then again, we’ve all seen those 3- and 4-year olds, old enough to go potty by themselves, but unwilling to give up their binks.

Do you think it’s ok to use a pacifier and if so, how long should you let your kid use it? How do you help him let go of it when you decide it’s time? Have any of you forgone the passie and let your kids self-soothe with their fingers and if so, did you run into any problems or did it work like a charm?

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