I was preparing to exclusively breastfeed and according to WHO (World Health Organization) and UNICEF that meant for the first six months:
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- The infant only receives breastmilk without any additional food or drink, not even water
- Breastfeed on demand – that is as often as the child wants, day and night
- No use of bottles, teats or pacifiers
Supposedly if these steps are not followed that can mean an early return of fertility for some women.
Okay easy enough. Plus I had heard that one should wait until nursing was well established before giving a pacifier, around 3 months.
I wanted to do everything PERFECTLY as a new mother. I knew babies had a high need for sucking, and why would God create this in a child if he didn't want them to nurse frequently, right?
Well....I still believe that. BUT I did end up giving my daughter a pacifier at six months. And she didn't willingly take it. I had to teach her to like it.
We mainly wanted to introduce it to her for car rides and sleep. She hated the car, nursing was the only thing that would calm her down. And sleeping? Well, she pretty much needed to be attached to me to do that.
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So now she is 18 months old and occasionally takes a pacifier. Mostly when she first goes to sleep and in the car when I can't do anything else to make her happy.
It pacifies her so well that it really is so tempting to give it to her when she gets fussy or won't be quiet in church.
And if I do, there's always a feeling of guilt. Guilt of what? I'm not sure. Maybe of not living up completely to my ideals of being a perfect mother.
That fact became crystal clear to me in the first few days of her life! I am NOT a perfect mother, and I never will be. I try to be. But I fail. Often.
I suppose I have come to the realization that it is OKAY to give your child a pacifier in certain circumstances. I probably won't give my next newborn one, I just don't want to foster that dependency on a pacifier so early in life.
Although my daughter uses a pacifier now she is by no means dependent on it. She likes it. But she doesn't need it. And I guess that's the most important thing to me.