One question I am often asked is "what is your stance on pacifiers?"
W.O.W. That's a loaded question! I talk about this a bit in TOTS Training. I tend to avoid being extreme in anything, as is my "stance" on pacifiers.
So here it is! My stance on pacifiers.....drum roll please..... it DEPENDS!
As a therapist, I work with human beings. Each of us are unique and have various medical and cultural backgrounds. When it comes to pacifiers, I will consider age, family desires/values, shape, developmental level, frequency and duration of use.
I view pacifiers as a TOOL. They can be helpful for soothing and beginning oral skills (think premature baby on a feeding tube). If a family has already introduced a pacifier, I will encourage them to use it sparingly for times of distress or for therapeutic benefit with my instruction. I will also counsel on the shape that is best for oral development and feeding (in my experience/opinion), as well as how and when to say bye-bye to the pacifier.
If a family has not introduced a pacifier, I discuss pros and cons of using one if I think there is any therapeutic benefit or I am directly asked. I work with many breastfeeding families and it is very important to be careful about artificial nipples before breastfeeding is well-established, while collaborating with lactation professionals.
Pacifier use can become a habit and if that is already the case, I work with families to find the cause of the habit and eliminate it when it is appropriate. Sucking habits can have detrimental effects on oral development and health.
So in short, I would encourage you of knowing the benefits and potential risks in pacifier use, as well as the nuances of each type. In using any tool, we need to consider why and how it will be useful.