Book Offers 12 Steps to Stop Infant Pacifier Use
December 6, 2010 –Parents may be more addicted to pacifiers than their infants, according to a new book co-authored by Dr. Sumi Makkar Sexton, an assistant professor of family medicine at Georgetown’s medical school.
Pacifiers Anonymous: How to Kick the Pacifier or Thumb Sucking Habit (Mill City Press, 2010) offers a 12-step program for weaning baby “paddicts” off pacifiers and thumb sucking.
Parents who allow thumb sucking and pacifier use to continue past a certain point are referred to in the book as “enablers.”
“As parents, we’ve figured out that we also benefit from pacifier or thumb sucking,” Sexton explains. “After all, doesn't a happy child equal a happy parent? And who doesn't appreciate a peaceful night's sleep?”
She admits she’s as guilty as the next mom.
“When my husband and I were ready to wean our daughter from the pacifier, it struck me that I had to prepare myself far more than I had to prepare her,” she says. “I was too addicted myself to admit it.”
Sexton and co-author Ruby Natale Andrew, a Miami clinical child psychologist, noted in a 2009 article for the peer-reviewed journal American Family Physician that roughly 75 to 85 percent of children in Western countries use a pacifier.
Positive Vs. Negative Effects
While pacifiers also have benefits such as pain relief and prevention of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, the article and book explain that they can have negative effects on breastfeeding, lead to ear infections and cause the misalignment of children’s teeth.
To determine when pacifier sucking is becoming excessive, Sexton and her co-authors, which include stay-at-home mom/writer Liza Draper, ask:
“Does your child have an obsession with the pacifier or thumb and crave it like you crave your morning coffee? Are you afraid that stopping the pacifier or thumb could lead to anxiety, mood changes, or sleeplessness?”
While addiction is a strong word, the authors suggest that at the very least, co-dependency might be an issue.
Zebras and Pacifiers
Sexton also recalls her own experience with a pacifier as a child.
“My first and last memory of my pacifier was my parents explaining that the zebra at the zoo took my pacifier when I was about two-and-a-half years old,” she writes in the book. “I vaguely remember repeating to myself day after day ‘the zebra took my pacifier’ until it eventually became an empty statement about an event that happened in my childhood.
“It wasn’t until fifth grade when I drew a zebra stealing my pacifier … that I realized the truth about my beloved pacifier and my parent’s plot against me.”