One of the many casualties of the so-called Mommy Wars has been the hardworking pacifier.
These inexpensive plugs, which have served babies and their caregivers for centuries, were swept up in the fight over who cared about their babies more — moms willing to make the simplest gesture of offering up a milky boob to a cranky baby or those who relied on factory-farmed nipples to do the heavy-lifting of loving a child.
As in any protracted warfare, there are turncoats. In this case, moms who banished the binky early in motherhood, only to embrace them later on.
Julie Anderson writer about her conversion in the essay “From Anti-Pacifier to Pro-Binky: How I Made Peace with the Paci.” Here’s how she used to feel about binkies.
I understood that some parents liked to let their babies be comforted with a pacifier, but felt (somewhat self-righteously) that I preferred to comfort my baby myself, with nursing, rocking, or plain old attention. We showed our first three sons where their thumbs were and encouraged thumb-sucking, but none of them really took to it. They all had blankets they loved, but that was it. No thumbs AND no pacifiers. Great!
Letting babies suck on pacifiers undermines the breast-feeding relationship, all parents are warned. Even worse, it’s a guarantee you’ll have to spend thousands a decade later correcting horrific overbites which will prevent you ever from marrying off your buck-toothed lassie little girl.
People who don’t like binkies are more than happy to tell you why. After breastfeeding three sons for comfort, Anderson found herself on new territory with the boy she adopted. He didn’t get comfort from the breast. She tried a binky and it worked!
But not everyone liked the new helper. Anderson writes:
…The first especially vocal critic I encountered was my grandmother, who was scandalized every time she saw little Frank with his pacifier. “Get that fooler out of his mouth!” she’d grumble. “He doesn’t need that thing.” It reminded me of how she’d fuss that I held our firstborn, Grant, too much. “Put that child down! He’s sleeping and he doesn’t need to be held. You’re going to spoil him.” …
Talk to the parent of a binky-enthusiast and we’ll tell you: pacifiers? They’re worth every ounce of unsucked breastmilk — every crooked tooth in the kid’s head. You can fight your wars all you want but you’ll take away binkies over our dead bodies!
When my first two kids rejected binkies — which were offered a safe two months, after a solid breastfeeding relationship had been established — I was flattered.
“Oh,” I thought when they spit the silicone plugs back out, “only the best will do for you!”
Sure, I had seen these things work magic on other people’s children, who slept through the night and would let other people hold them. But mine rejected the binky — they wanted the real thing!
The real thing was worn down by the time No. 3 came along. The real thing kinda wanted something factory farmed and unattached to her to take the night shift once in awhile.
As with my other two kids, my son was offered a pacifier on a whim.
“Ha!” we all said. “I’m sure he’ll hate … whoa, did you see that?” He started sucking. It took a crowbar to extricated it from his baby face.
Soon, my son had established a solid relationship with his pacifier. Then he slept through the night. And felt safe with babysitters. His teeth are crooked. He weaned way earlier than my girls. We get withering looks and rude comments from others.
Still, I love my son’s binky almost as much as he does. There’s a reason it’s called a pacifier.