Pacifier vs Thumbsucking - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 1 Old 12-29-2001, 06:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Pacifier vs. thumb sucking (Page 2)

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Author Topic: Pacifier vs. thumb sucking
Member posted 12-04-2000 06:27 AM
My son is 8 weeks old and he has never had a pacifier. I don't want to give him one because I am afraid he will be one of those kids from whom it is almost impossible to wrench the thing away. Recently he has started to suck on his thumb or hand sometimes. It's not a big habit yet, but I wonder what would be worse - for him to have a pacifier that I can take away from him or to suck his thumb. He is breast fed, and usually when I see him doing lots of sucking I take it as a hunger cue and he will latch on then. He wants to nurse constantly during the day (usually every hour, rarely goes more than 2 hours between feedings), but he goes for much longer at night, usually only waking once maybe twice to nurse. My husband thinks that he could not possibly be hungry all those times during the day and that he just wants to suck. He thinks I should give him a pacifier. When I put him to the breast, however, he sucks and swallows enthusiastically and seems to be hungry. Has anybody out there had experience with this kind of thing? I would be interested to hear. If I do use a pacifier it would be limited. I don't want to have it as just something to keep him quiet because I believe when he cries he really needs something. Thanks so much for your help.

Moderator posted 12-04-2000 06:59 AM
I have a daughter who is 10 months old and I went through agony trying to decide whether or not to give her the paci the hospital sent home in the "propaganda" care package. Ultimately, I gave in and gave it to her one day while in the car. (It happened to be in the diaper bag and she was screaming) Since then we use it sparingly. In fact it has been in her car seat in the car for 4 days and we have not used it. She has been fine.
I was worried that she would suck on the paci when she was hungry and would not get enough nutrition. Not the case, if i give her the paci and she wants to eat, she will promptly spit it out and give me a look that says "HA! Gimme the real thing, Mom". For us it has not been a problem so far and I do not see it as a problem down the road as she seems to do fine without it. I usually resort to using it as a last measure tho.

Hope this helps some. (Watch, since I posted this, she will probably go on to become the only child in the first grade with a pacifier.)

Member posted 12-04-2000 07:45 AM
It sounds like you are handling it great without the pacifier! If the baby nurses less during the day there is a good chance of him making up lost time at night and not sleeping as well... I don't think once an hour is excessive, especially at 8 weeks old. (We used to joke that my son nursed once an hour... For 45 minutes!)
You are doing great following your instinct!

Member posted 12-04-2000 09:56 AM
I am mom to one of those children you can't wrench the binky from! My 2 year old is very high need and screamed nonstop in the car anytime we went anywhere (as an infant). The binky was the only way to keep him from hyperventalating(sp?) in the car!! I couldn't drive and nurse! We are currently working on binkies are for bed only and it is going ok. My 6 month old literally came out sucking his thumb! I nursed him minutes after birth thinking he was hungry, but no he's a thumbsucker. I have tried to push the binky on him, but he will do both (binky and thumb). My brother sucked his thumb until first grade, so I personally prefer the binky, because you can take it away. Some will tell you that you aren't meeting your baby's needs if they have to suck a binky or thumb. To each his own. I'd rather have a happy baby than worry about everyone else's critisism. Both boys have been exclusivly breastfed(6mo.old still is) and are big healthy boys, the binky did not hurt them nutritionally. Do what works for you!!!

Member posted 12-04-2000 11:24 AM
Your situation sounds very similar to mine. My son kindof did the same thing at the same age. I was against using a paci because I wanted him to nurse instead. I spent the first 3 months of my son's life in a recliner nursing and rocking, and I loved every minute of it! Everyone in my family said I was creating a thumb sucker because I wouldn't give him a paci, especially when they saw him sucking his thumb, fingers and hands when he wasn't nursing. Fortunately, my son was not a high needs baby and the thumb and finger sucking never became a habit.
At 2 months my son was still nursing every hour on the hour, that lasted until he could roll-over and became interested in the world beyond my breast. Looking back on that period, it seems that my son sucked his thumb for about 3 months or so...until he cut his first tooth. I'm not sure if they are connected. It sounds like you're trusting your instincts, if you truly don't want to use a paci for whatever reason, stick it out for a few more months and see what happens. Especially if your baby seems to be tolerent and not high needs.

Good luck! Kary B

Member posted 12-04-2000 07:04 PM
Prior to becoming a mom I was vehemently opposed to pacifiers, and thought my baby would never have one. My main reason for disliking them, I realize now is that I didn't like the way they look in a baby's mouth.
But there's nothing like becoming a parent to change your perceptions of reality, and after 2 binky-free months of being a human pacifier to my daughter, I started to miss my pinkie finger. A little hesitantly, I bought a pacifier, which she didn't take for a while, but now enjoys.
My friend Val asked me how I know the difference between a cry for the "duut" (our family's word for pacifier)and a cry for the breast. There has never been any abiguity about this. A mother who is well-bonded with her baby learns the difference between a hunger cry and a non-hungry sucking cry. And in case of confusion, Stella lets me know by spitting out the duut and grabbing desperately at my shirt.
Whatever you decide, I don't think you will have any problem with that issue.

Moderator posted 12-04-2000 08:02 PM
Horray for the paci and the thumb! It may not be a popular view, but some babies need to suck more than other babies and I'm all for letting them use whatever they need, as long as they get lots of breast time too...
It sounds like your babe is nursing very well and letting her use the pacifier (or helping her find her fingers to suck on) sounds safe to me. Our pro-nursing doctor advocated helping our son find his hand so that he could suck his fingers when teething or just needed to suck. We offered the pacifier after about 6 or 8 weeks and he used it pretty frequently until about 11 months. Then we just stopped offering it and he didn't need it. He is almost 16 months old now and nurses great, but doesn't need a pacifier or thumb.

Personally, without the pacifier I would not have been able to take my son in a car without blood curdling screams. So, I'm a BIG fan of the pacifier...

Member posted 12-04-2000 10:52 PM
My son, now 7 1/2 months, isn't into the pacifier thing either, and never was. I tried several different kinds, just for long car rides. He always has been a frequent and lengthy breastfeeder. He could never seem to grasp the pacy properly in his mouth, so I realized I was it. As to the frequency of feedings, I also was concerned when he was younger that he wasn't getting enought hindmilk, etc. But I became reassured when a lactation consultant told me that babies in traditional cultures who are worn all the time nurse up to 20 times a day, if only for a couple of minutes at a time.
The great thing about my little guy's lengthy nursing is all the reading I get done. I get comfy on the couch, use my Boppy pillow, and plow through several books a week.

Member posted 12-05-2000 03:46 AM
My daughter was one who needed to do what seemed like a lot of sucking. But she refused anything that wasn't warm mommy flesh. if you tried to give her a pacifier or a bottle she just screamed even harder. But she wouldn't suck her own thumb either so it was either my finger or breast. Usually it was the breast except in the car obviously. Nothing quite like driving while reacing into the backseat to let her suck on my finger. She was one who nursed 45 minutes of every hour. She did the same thing ALL night. She sleapt with us and I would wake up in the same position as I had gone to sleep with her STILL LATCHED ON!! Everyone was sure she would eventually suck her thumb. But she didn't. She did go through a short phase where she was facinated with (other babies)pacifiers when she was about 16 months old. She'd see a baby with one and go steal it so she could put it in her mouth but it was certainly never a habit by any means. She's now two and still very attached to the breast but nothing else.
My son doesn't seem to have the same need to suck. He's pretty content to do his own thing until he's hungry then he lets me know. He even prefers to fall asleep WITHOUT a nipple in his mouth which is totally foreign to me. he does chew on his hands some but I suspect that's mostly teething. He may later decide to suck something and after all that I've read I would prefer it be his own fingers. The two main reasons are that it's his choice to suck his fingers but I've seen A LOT of parents use pacifiers as a 'plug' to shut up a noisy or crying baby, Litterally forcing the baby to use it weather they want to or not. And #2 I think it's easier to care for. It doesn't get lost or need sterilizing. You don't need spares. And kids are more likely to take it out of their mouth to use words or whatever because it can't fall on the ground or be taken away. Plus when it's time to do something else it comes out of the mouth where as a pacifier can stay in for hours and still leave two hands free.

Just my thoughts

Member posted 12-05-2000 06:05 AM
I was opposed to using a pacifier with my son in the beginning. He used to nurse every hour and a half for 40 minutes. I had to reconsider when the doctor told me to give him one because he was gaining too much weight. (He gained 5 pounds the first month.)After that he only gained about 2 pounds each month and I was able to take my long showers again.
Now he's almost 11 months old and he only takes the pacifier from a sitter (when he's sleepy, not hungry). When I try to give him the pacifier he throws it across the room and reaches for my breast.

Member posted 12-05-2000 06:59 AM
That's interesting that your Dr. thought the baby was gaining too much weight... It is my understanding (and I've done research... both my kids were OFF the charts for weight in the first year) that when exclusively breastfed there are no dangers for future obesity when a BFed baby is chubby. My daughter doubled her weight by 4 months, and she started out 9 lbs 14 ounces! She was 29 lbs at 9 months. She is 3 now and 34 lbs. Luckily my pediatrician just said I must have high octaine breastmilk and wasn't concerned.

Member posted 12-05-2000 01:17 PM
I introduced my 11 month old to a sous (pacifier) when she was four months old because she stopped sucking on our fingers and didn't always want the breast. I rarely use it when we are not in the car, however she is home full time with Dad now and it has worked wonders in getting her to sleep during the day. Dad pops her in the sling with her sous and she naps on him just like she does with me when she's nursing.

Junior Member posted 12-05-2000 02:20 PM
I have nothing against the pacifier or the thumb. Just a couple of thoughts... The pacifier could cause nipple confusion in such a young baby- The thumb never falls on the floor while you are driving. But you can't take the thumb away when they are three yrs old and still at it. It sounds like you're really good at following your baby's cues so trust your heart and do what feels right!

Member posted 12-06-2000 07:08 PM
Thanks so much for everyone's advice. I showed your replies to my husband, and it definitely helped for him to see that our son was not the only baby nursing so often. I'm not sure what I will end up doing in the end. I would like to avoid the pacifier, but thanks to all the advice here, I now know that it will most likely not lead to any catastrophe if I end up using it. (Maybe just a little hurt pride on my part because my mother in law said I would never be able to get by without one!) Thanks!

Member posted 12-07-2000 10:15 AM

Originally posted by sagewinna:
That's interesting that your Dr. thought the baby was gaining too much weight... It is my understanding (and I've done research... both my kids were OFF the charts for weight in the first year) that when exclusively breastfed there are no dangers for future obesity when a BFed baby is chubby. My daughter doubled her weight by 4 months, and she started out 9 lbs 14 ounces! She was 29 lbs at 9 months. She is 3 now and 34 lbs. Luckily my pediatrician just said I must have high octaine breastmilk and wasn't concerned.

Yeah, after he got used to the pacifier I realized that his being over-weight (on the charts) was not something that I should've been concerned about.

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