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Binkie Boundaries: Use the pacifier worry-free!

With these simple tips, you can enjoy the powerful soothing of a pacifier without creating any future problems. You won't create any bad habits, interfere with breastfeeding, interrupt sleep, affect dentition or speech, or have a binkie-monster on your hands.

Yes! You can use the pacifier responsibly.

Trying to decide when it's ok to use a pacifier?

The big thing with pacifier is stay reasonable and logical. Let’s take the time to look closely at the moment when we’re giving the pacifier. Is the pacifier interfering with your child developing a more appropriate coping skill for this situation? Or is sucking the appropriate mechanism?

For example, when we’re asking a 4-month old child to get strapped into a car seat, face backwards and not be able to see any caregiver, it’s reasonable to allow her to rely on their natural soothing and sucking. It’s unsafe to breast-feed a baby in the car seat, so in that situation it’s completely appropriate to use a pacifier.

Let’s contrast that with a 6-month old child who is sitting on the floor surrounded by toys, has all of his needs met, and is also sucking on a pacifier. In that case, the pacifier is getting in the way of the child developing the ability to self-soothe while sitting and entertaining himself. At this age, he should feel safe and comforted by the visual presence of a parent or caregiver when sitting, and should be comfortable when the caregiver leaves the room or attends another task for a brief period.

A newborn has no ability to self-soothe, and after breastfeeding is established, a pacifier is a welcome break from sore nipples (Mom) or a brand-new, sensitive nervous system (baby). As long as the baby is always fed first and the pacifier is never used to delay a feeding, it should not interfere with breastfeeding.

Stick to the boundaries below, and you can use the pacifier with confidence.

If you are a parent struggling with pacifier use, please don't hesitate to reach out to me at I am always happy to help families set reasonable boundaries with pacifiers and improve their child's sleep.

For help with how to Raise a Sleeper and maintain boundaries with your child, see Raising a Sleeper.

For help with a child whose pacifier use is interfering with sleep or coping skills, see On-Demand Sleep Help.

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