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My husband is pro-binky. I’m against. Who’s right? On Babble.com’s Parental Advisory.

Before I had my son, I had made my mind up that I didn’t want him using a pacifier. I told my mother in-law this multiple times, but one day she bought some for us anyway. I made it clear to my husband that I was against our using them, but he started giving one to our son behind my back! I was wondering if there are any negative affects of using a pacifier? And one other question: do babies need security blankets? And if so, why? – Preemptively Pacified

Dear Pacified,

There are definitely pros and cons to pacifiers, which you can read about in detail here. But it seems to us that your question isn’t really about pacifiers. There are other things at the heart of the matter, which have more to do with preconceived parenting notions (maybe prenatal notions is a more accurate term in your case) and reconciling different choices with partners and other family members.

These may be big, broad issues, but they’re not so hard to break down with our handy pacifier example. You had the idea that pacifiers were a no. That idea was formed before you had a baby in the house. There’s an ancient saying . . . we forget the actual wording, but it’s something like: “The best laid plans fall to sh*t when there’s a screaming baby in your face.”

We too were anti-pacifier, and we have both been in the situation of having another caregiver slip our babies the hated binky while we were out. It seems that the drive to put something in that baby’s mouth was just too irresistible. It’s a logical response. Babies love to suck. It’s pretty much their entire skill set at this point, so it’s only fair to want to give them the opportunity to use it. Parents of previous generations, when pacifier use wasn’t even questioned, are even more likely to want to go this route.

And your husband probably didn’t mean to go against your wishes. Most likely, he was simply feeling clueless and freaked out by your baby’s crying, and he did what clueless and freaked out people often do in times of extreme stress: he listened to his mommy. Try not to take it personally. There will be many instances in your shared parenting career when one parent will make a choice that does not entirely jibe with the other parent’s sensibilities. This one is pretty minor. The stakes are not super-high, and the urge is understandable.

But you don’t want to feel like you’re in combat with other caregivers, or that you need to question whether they are respecting your choices in general. It’s probably good to try and open up the communication with your mother-in-law and husband now. Rather than let tensions build to the point where you might have an actual fight, have a peaceful pacifier summit. Discuss the pros and cons. Maybe even give the pacifier a trial run – see if it helps, or if it keeps you up at night for constant re-inserting. If it turns out you are firmly against pacifier use, you’ll need to explain your reasoning to anyone caring for your child and be clear that sneaking one in while you’re out is probably a bad idea for everyone.

And re: your second question: babies do not “need” security blankets, just as they don’t “need” pacifiers. But they can serve a purpose. In psych-speak these are known as “transitional objects” – they provide a bridge from dependence on the parent to independence. If a baby grows attached to a blanket or other “lovey,” she may use that to help her deal with separation from parents. The idea is that as long as the baby has the blanket (chewed up cow doll, rubber giraffe, etc.) she will sleep, stop crying and feel safe.

But dependency can take a lot of work. You’ll have to guard that coveted object with your life. And some babies won’t transfer their affections from a living person to an inanimate object, no matter how hard you try. So not only are security blankets not necessary, they sometimes don’t work at all. If you want to give them a go, talk to your pediatrician about what kind of blanket or object she considers safe for your baby’s age group.

Have a question? Email parentaladvisory@babble.com

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