You have had enough after the first few months of sleep deprivation when your baby wakes up and plays at night and sleeps like a rock during the day. You might start to look into how to sleep training baby with a pacifier.
As long as the babies use the pacifier like a ride-or-die sleep prop, sleep training with a pacifier is possible and achievable. Sleep props can help infants fall asleep by themselves while parents have more time to relax. Mommies can study this guide to learn more about how to sleep train successfully—with or without a pacifier—before making a wise decision.
What is a sleep prop?
Sleep props can be anything your child needs to fall asleep, such as a pacifier, a teddy bear, a swaddle, a sound machine, SNOO, bottle feeding to sleep... Furthermore, not all sleep aids are created equal! Each pacifier has different pros and cons, which will be discussed in the second part.
The reasons why mommies should use pacifier
As I have listed before, there are many different sleep props apart from the pacifier, like a teddy bear, a swaddle, a sound machine, SNOO, bottle feeding to sleep, etc. However, the pacifier is the most common sleep prop for many reasons.
Potential risks of other types of sleep props
If caregivers choose bottle-feeding to sleep, it might be uncomfortable when mommies need to go on a business trip for a long time. And babysitters will find it hard to lull the baby to sleep, whether to feed it.
If they feed the child before sleeping can accidentally cause tooth decay to your infant when growing up. Otherwise, the baby will not stop fussing.
An SNOO is a smart device that can lull babies to sleep with its self-rocking bassinet, responding with gradually stronger white noise and motion to calm crying. Even though this bassinet might be an intelligent virtual babysitter, it might be too expensive for some families to afford.
According to ScienceDirect, extreme white noise exposure in the neonatal and baby population can cause noise-induced hearing loss and other negative health impacts.
A study in 2021 with eight infant white noise machines and six iPhone applications shows that at a speaker-to-microphone distance of 10 cm, nine out of fourteen (64.3%) devices exceeded output levels of 85 dBA at maximum volume. No device surpassed the recommended volume level at 30 cm or 100 cm apart.
A swaddle may be affordable, but it also has some downsides. According to Havard Health Publishing, a swaddle can raise the risk of hip problems because it keeps the legs together and straight. Additionally, if the fabric used to wrap a newborn becomes loose, asphyxia increases.
A teddy bear is a cute sleep prop, but mommies should remember that infants like to explore the world by putting everything into their mouths. It might be a very dirty option to use. This sleep prop may be more suitable for your child when they are older.
When to start sleep training baby with a pacifier?
Sleep training baby with a pacifier is not encouraged for babies under 4.5 months because circadian rhythms do not form until 3–4 months of age, and young newborns are unlikely to be able to discern between regular daytime and consistent evening responses. If your baby is under the age of 4.5 months, it is more crucial to focus on developing pleasant sleep associations than trying to educate your kid on sleep skills. (Source: Sciencedirect).
If your infant is more than 4.5 months old and you decide to develop sleep training, parents can start by eliminating nighttime feedings after they are ready. Continue to offer if your baby likes a pacifier or any other calming tactics that help keep your baby peaceful and rested. They will soon be cognitively ready to learn to fall asleep themselves without as much help.
Some parents are also concerned about when to use it. You may have heard that waiting until established breastfeeding is the best way to avoid nipple confusion, but I recommend starting with one right away.
I believe that nipple confusion is a far less common problem than waiting too long to offer a pacifier and having your kid reject it. It is also easier to move them on the pacifier than on the breast, which I believe can improve their latch.
If you are attempting to introduce the pacifier and it is simply not working, you can keep trying in the next few days and be patient with the kids! It may take some time for some newborns to get used to it.
Continue to provide it, even making a game out of teasing their lips or gums with it to get your baby used to having it in their mouth and encouraging them to suck on it.
I also recommend trying many brands, as pacifiers come in different shapes and sizes. Just make sure you pick the appropriate size for your child's age.
- Size 1: 0+ months
- Size 2: 6+ months
- Size 3: 18+ months
- Onesize: 0-3 years
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it should be at least 1.5 inches in diameter to prevent the danger of choking.
How to use a pacifier to sleep train your child: the Do and Don't
The sleep training baby with a pacifier will be broken down into three phases:
The first phase: between 4.5 and 6 months
Firstly, most healthy newborns are ready to develop long-term sleep strategies between 4.5 and 6 months. Instead of supplying the pacifier, use a gentle sleep coaching strategy to train your child to sleep without it once you have received the green light.
If you prefer to do it slowly, try limiting pacifier use in phases, starting with bedtime. You can eventually go without a pacifier for the entire night.
The second phase: between 7 and 8 months
In this second phase, babies are around 7 or 8 months old. The remarkable signal for caregivers to know is when babies can discover their pacifier and re-plug it without help. At this age, you may decide to remove the pacifier or teach your kid to manage it independently.
If you decide to remove the pacifier rather than teach your kids to take charge, it is usually better to tackle the entire night at once at this age, and then work on naps once your child has mastered nights.
The third phase: after one year
The final phase is when your child is one year old, and now is the moment to determine if they will continue to sleep with a pacifier. After the first year, most children's pacifiers (think of them as the equivalent of a lovey) take on a much deeper meaning, and taking them away will be much more disturbing to their sleep. Imagine your child is attached to it over the next few years if you decide to let them use it.
If you are happy with long-term use, try to keep the pacifier in use. Mom should leave it in your children's crib or nightstand to encourage them to learn alternative coping skills during the day.
Dos and Don’ts
How to stop going in all night to put the pacifier back?
First, parents can prepare 5 or 6 additional pacifiers in the crib corner. Show your child where they are so that if they lose one during the night, they will know where to look for it.
You may keep them from rolling down the crib's sides by placing them in a tiny plastic bowl, or you can distribute them across the mattress. If your toddler determines that throwing pacifiers out is a sport (and what better way to entice mommy or daddy back into the room!)
Before putting the extras in the crib, wait until they are asleep, and be explicit about how many times you are willing to hand them back once they have hit the floor.
Pacifier tossing can soon turn into a game at this age, so unless you are eager to play the game the entire night, it is best to stop it in its tracks and limit it to one or two times.
When to drop the pacifier?
If you plan to get rid of the pacifier, do it after two years because 2-year-old-babies are usually just as addicted to it as you are to your morning coffee. There are three small tips for babies to get rid of pacifiers:
Mommies can cut a small hole in the tip of the pacifier so that it no longer includes suction.
Mommies can offer your child a reward to encourage the baby to refuse to use pacifiers. For example, you can take them to the park at the weekend, buy them new toys, or let them choose their meal.
Caregivers can make up a story about the paci-fairy, similar to the tooth fairy. The fairy will take the pacifier at night and return it with a special gift as a reward.
Overall, sleep training baby with a pacifier may not be as hard as you thought. Mamas can battle with baby sleep at first, but with a firm strategy and helpful parenting tools in your toolkit, your baby will sleep better and longer at all ages, and so will you.
Toddler and child sleep is just as important as infant sleep, and by beginning to use sleep training strategies at a young age, you may have a fantastic sleeping baby who will sleep well into adulthood!