Episode 84: Is the Pacifier Impacting Babies Sleep?
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Episode Highlights:

  • When can the pacifier stay and when it needs to go 
  • Discuss how to know if the pacifier is the trouble behind your child’s sleep struggles

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Podcast Episode Transcripts:

Disclaimer: Transcripts were generated automatically and may contain inaccuracies and errors.


Welcome to the kids sleep show, where we help tired parents from around the world to get their children to fall asleep independently, sleep through the night and build healthy sleep habits for life. I’m your host, Courtney Zentz. Now let’s sleep together. Hey, everyone, welcome back to the kids sleep show, Courtney Zentz here and I am chatting with you today all about pacifiers. So many of my private sleep clients struggle with this wish wash if you will. Do I keep the pacifier? Do I get rid of the pacifier? Is this a problem? Is it a prop? Is it okay? You know, what are the boundaries around pacifiers. So we’re going to talk all about pacifiers today so that I can help you to understand if the pacifier has become a problem in your home. I have a lot of friends who work in this space that immediately say pacifier has to go, you have to get rid of it. And I’m actually going to tell you that’s not the case. So good news for you. pacifiers are only a sleep Prop, if you are the mechanism to put that pacifier back into your little one’s mouth in the middle of the night, going in there three, four, or five, six times, just to literally pick the pacifier up and put it in. If that is you, and I’ve just spot on identified what every single night in your house looks like keep listening, because you are going to need to get rid of the pacifier, I’m gonna help you to understand how to do that. But in all other cases, perhaps it’s useful at daycare or out in the car with your little one when they’re struggling a bit. Sometimes they get fussy, the pacifier, and that soothing does call them sometimes your baby may take the pacifier, and they may fall asleep with it, it falls out and they don’t mind. They don’t wake up perfect that pacifier can say so you see, pacifiers are really only a problem. If you’re a mechanism in which you have to put it back in right. And this generally falls the first six months of life, there’s a lot of times newborns will use it at the hospital they came home, they kind of continue to use it a little bit off and on, it seems like to some degree, it’s a hit or miss situation. And once that pacifier falls out, they get upset, maybe that only happens in the middle of the night. Or maybe that only happens for naps and not any other time, if it’s happening at all, and you’re having to go back in there to pop it back in. But it just takes a minute, that is going to lead you down a very very, very, very touchy path, where eventually you’re going to have to get rid of it, I hate to tell you, because what’s going to start to happen is every single time that pacifier falls out, you have to go pop it back in. And it’s going to start to happen more and more and more frequently, especially as your child goes out of the first three months of life and moves into four to six months of life. Right? As newborns were sleeping in two stages of sleep. Remember, right, you’ve got light sleep, and deep sleep about 50% of the time for each. And so once a child moves from this to different stages of sleep to more of a cycle based sleep between about three and four months, their waking patterns change, because their cycles change, which means that when they were only waking once at night, to have you put that pacifier in, now they’re waking five or six times, there’s a couple options, right? If you’re teetering with a child who’s maybe five or six months of age, they’re starting to get the hang of the pacifier, but they just can’t quite always find one themselves, you do have the option to put a couple in the crib and see if they’re going to find it and put it in themselves, you can also practice the skill of showing them the coordination, right. So putting that pacifier kind of in their hands, and then guiding their hands to their mouth to help them understand the expected movement when they find one that is going to teach a child right with that practice in the day, how to put the pacifier in themselves. I’ll tell you in all honesty, most of my clients that start out and they sometimes fight me a bit on the use of the pacifier and wanting to keep it and I’ll say look like you can keep it but it can’t be the mechanism. Right? So I’ll give you two three days to see if you can work some Houdini magic. Honestly, in most cases, they end up getting frustrated see that I was you know correct. And it’s not that it’s an I told you so it’s just I try to balance where parents are at the time but I also try to help them understand that things like the pacifier are props, right. And so I just finished with a newborn client and we you know, sort of went back and forth a little bit on the pacifier. They ultimately decided to pull it and after about a week, they’re little ones three and a half months old now is settling independently for naps with not a single tier is settling for bedtime with not a single tier is waking up once at night around two or 230 to eat and is going back to sleep until the morning and So they were really kind of struggling because we’re seeing progress in the sleep coaching, right. But we were still struggling a little bit with that pacifier. And so when we ultimately pulled it, which is where we got to that ultimate success, right, they are now much more happy and glad that they did, despite their initial resistance to do so, you know, sometimes you have to sort of pay attention to the other variables if you’re using a pacifier, but you also have a child who doesn’t know how to settle independently, who doesn’t know how to put themselves back to sleep for naps, or in the middle of the night is looking for a pacifier or nursing or a bottle or rocking or bouncing, right? Any of them, they’re actually all considered the same, they’re a mechanism to sleep and a mechanism to sleep is a prop that has to go, you have to teach a child fundamentally that they possess a skill set to be able to go to sleep. And all of you have the ability, there’s not one child I have ever worked with in my seven years and 1000s of clients all over the world that I haven’t been able to fix their sleep with. And every single person that I work with is completely different. And here’s why. parenting styles are different, right? situations are different from a living environment. You know, I’ve worked with clients in you know, studio apartments in New York to six people in you know, kind of one room situations in different parts of the world. And you can work with a family to build healthy sleep hygiene depending on what you want. Do you want the baby to stay in your room? Do you want them in their own space? Do you want them in a pack and play? Do you want them in a crib? Do you want them in a bassinet? You know, like the only time there’s really a challenge with the removal of the pacifier is frankly, as the child grows, the habit gets harder, right. So you move from this sucking and soothing to a habit based challenge that, you know, for years, so many parents, like try to take the pacifier, try to take the pacifier, try to take the pacifier. And their little one who can now talk at this point is like, Yeah, no, thanks, I’m going to keep this and all throw a little hissy fit, if you try to take it right. And even in that situation, it’s behavior, your child doesn’t need the pacifier to fall asleep, they want it. So for those of you that are listening, that have older little ones that you want to get rid of it, because you know, it’s a habit, but they’re kind of holding on tight to it. And you may be noticing, perhaps it’s starting to mess with their smile a little bit, they’re getting a little bit of, you know, as their teeth come in, or kind of protruding in different ways, right? or, frankly, you know, they’re just walking around the store and entering kindergarten and have a pacifier in their mouth all the time. And that’s not going to go over well, and you want to get them off of it, right? There’s a couple ways that I’ve done it successfully. One is just sticking a pinhole in the pacifier. Right. And this goes for any age. If you stick a pin hole in the pacifier, there’s no obvious change to the pacifier other than the suction is gone. So a baby a toddler is going to look at that pacifier and be like, hmm, it still looks the same, but it’s not quite giving me the same feeling. And as a parent, you go, I don’t know, I didn’t touch it.
I don’t know. I didn’t touch it, right, like, and you sort of just play it off, like no big deal. I have seen where you know, things on Pinterest talk about cutting the top of the pacifier by like a millimeter. And then every week, you cut it a little more and a little more. It does work, I’m sure. It’s obviously a tip that people have used. Like, I just find it not to be comfortable for a child, right? Like, when you cut it, they immediately put it in their mouth and spit it out, just get rid of it, either put the pinhole in it or just get rid of it. Because it’s just a very uncomfortable feeling. And, you know, I mean, again, I guess it works for like older toddlers. It’s never been something in my sleep coaching business that I’ve been successful with. And I consult with a lot of clients of all different ages, you know, for both parenting coaching and sleep coaching. So my suggestion would be put a pinhole in it, and play dumb, right. The next is to do the switch, right? I actually did this with my own son when he was about three. I was like, okay, but it’s time to get rid of the pacifier. And so I bought a little toy, something small, like 10 bucks, and I wrapped it, I knew it was something at the time. I don’t even remember what it was that he was into probably like PJ Masks at the time. And I wrapped a little action figure it was like $10 and put it in the crib with a little note from the Binky fairy. And I just said, Hey, you know, you can choose tonight, you can take your pacifier to bed, or you can have this present your choice, right? And I left it at that. And I went in and was like, Oh my gosh, there’s a present in your crib. What is this? And I said, All right, well, here’s the note. Do you want the pacifier or do you want the present? Right and I gave him the choice and he goes, pacifier. I was like, oh, okay, well, that’s gonna backfire. Right? So I grabbed the little present out and I started to walk out of the room. And then my son’s like, No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, I want the person I want the present. Here’s pacifier right gave me the pacifier. I legit shoved it down like the back of my pants and like hid it under my shirt. So he couldn’t kind of see where I put it, but it was gone and he got the present. And so if they come back to you and go, No, now I want the pacifier Like, I’m sorry that it’s gone, the fairy took it right, you do have to make sure you go around the rest of the house and get rid of all the other pacifiers, but the pacifier is gone. So it’s poof, magic disappeared. And you know, that’s it from then on, they’re gone. And kids don’t care, they really don’t, you may have one night, for any age one night where they’re pissed off, and they’re pissed off as babies because they don’t know any other way. But a child’s human nature is to figure out another way kids are fingers, they also use rocking as a soothing motion, though sometimes use like a rhythmic noise. And all of these things much like the pacifier or self settling techniques, right? So a child can find their fingers, maybe they stuck on a little lovey, maybe they suck on, you know, their their thumb, like I was a huge thumbsucker as a baby. Probably till, like, way too old actually. And then,
you know, you can also then I lost my train of thought, see, I have flashbacks of childhood, right? So they’ll find other ways to make, you know, to soothe and then it takes about a night, right? If you can be consistent for the entire night, getting rid of the pacifier, yes, there’s probably going to be some tears, offering comfort in other ways, like a back rub. Little bit of gentle pressure on the chest, you know, kind of showing them their hands holding their hand, things like that can help. As you’re offering that support and comfort. Sometimes it’s rubbing their head, once they’re asleep, right? Every night, you sort of gradually wean off of that sort of different support and engagement that you gave them. And then over the course of a couple days, they’re done. Right, they really don’t care about the pacifier. Honestly. Same with toddlers, you know, once that pacifier has gone, it’s gone. And make sure they’re all gone from the house. So they don’t find one and pick it up. And you’re done with it, right? It’s one night of protest. When you get over 18 months of age, it’s no longer you know, anything other than behavior, frankly, right. Your kids know how to sleep. They choose not to write your kids know how to fall asleep without the pacifier. They’re choosing not to write their behaviors when you’re over 18 months of age. And I know that that’s hard for a lot of parents to sometimes comprehend. Because they’re like, No, no, they’re still babies like, No, no, they’re playing you right, and it becomes a behavior shift. And the way I work with clients over 18 months is vastly different. It’s not sleep training. So googling one of the sleep training methods for your toddlers, frankly, is not going to work for you. Because anything under 18 months is traditional kind of sleep coaching, sleep training, anything over 18 months is more behavior modification, you have a toddler who is not sleeping through the night, you have a child who is requiring or demanding that you sleep with him at bedtime or lay with them for hours, right? Like, all of those different things are behaviors much like the pacifier is, so you can get over those particular behaviors. And you can create solid independent sleep in a very clean and easy way right with your children in a matter of a couple days. So if you’re struggling with the pacifier, the verse first step is to go Am I the mechanism to sleep? In most cases, the answer is going to be yes. Because your child is relying on you to put it back in. If you say no, they fall asleep without it falling out or without me needing to go in. Then you still have other wakings you have something else going on. You either have a habit somewhere else. They don’t know how to independently settle. Perhaps their timing is off. So they’re overtired. So you have to start to kind of pay attention and assess all of those different things to see what’s going on. And if you’re struggling, and you’ve tried all the things, I recommend you jump out to my Facebook group, it’s called slumber made simple, it’s free. And you have the ability to ask me questions every other week. I do a live q&a out there. It’s all scheduled on the calendar. I pop in each week, and I’m answering questions as I’m out there. My team is out there answering questions like we’re your sleep resources, and you don’t have to pay for it right. And some people do need help. And we do offer paid services. I do private coaching, private sleep consulting, I do ask me anything sleep coaching calls, there’s a lot of different stuff that we do on my team. There’s over 12 sleep consultants around the country that work with me to build healthy sleep habits in children’s homes and families homes all over the world. So if you’re struggling start with slumber Made Simple Facebook group, be sure to go out and find me on Instagram. It’s tiny transitions sleep coach and I will be more than happy to help you in any way that I can to build healthy sleep hygiene because sleep is the foundation for which the house is built. And I want to help you to get good sleep. So hopefully you found this episode to be helpful and understand if your pacifier is okay. Or if you need to make some changes and you need some help on where to start. So I hope you have a great rest of the day. Until next time, rest well Sweet dreams and I look forward to seeing you out in the Facebook group. Hold on one more thing before you go. As a valued listener of the kids sleep show. I want to help you build a great sleeper not just in the times you’re listening to the show. But all day every day. Every week of the year. I have a new favorite A group called slumber Made Simple. It’s a place to gather with other parents looking for sleep support, laughs and the latest in sleep research, to build a family that is rested and at their best day in and day out. If you want to be part of the community where you can get free sleep support, weekly training sessions, unbelievable content and so much more. Head on over to tiny transitions.com forward slash community that’s tiny transitions.com forward slash community or head over to Facebook and search slumber Made Simple. drop me a note and let me know when you join. I can’t wait to see you there.

Resources: Slumber Made Simple Facebook Sleep Community Episode Highlights: When can the pacifier stay and when it needs to go  Discuss how to know if the pacifier is the trouble behind your child’s sleep struggles Ready to Sleep Better? Book a Call Podcast Episode Transcripts: Disclaimer: Transcripts were generated automatically and may contain inaccuracies and […]

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