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My 3mo daughter was sleeping pretty well through the night (from 11 PM to 7 AM) for about a week, and now she wakes up every 30 mins to 1 hour wanting her pacifier. I've been running in at the first sign of crying and giving her her pacifier. As of 2 days ago, the behavior started spreading to her day time routine.

We have a routine set up where she wakes up, eats (wife breastfeeds), has her "awake time", and then we put her down awake for her nap when she shows signs of being tired (lather, rinse, repeat). She normally didn't wake up more than once or twice a night or during her naps, where as now it's anywhere from 4-7 times a night and 2-3 times during a nap.

We've asked a few people what they've done and people have suggested:

  • "gradual extinction" to remove pacifier dependency all together
  • just deal with it till she can self soothe
  • remove pacifier during day and deal with her, and then let her have it at night.
  • add a midnight feeding at 2-3 AM and remove pacifier during day

This is our first child and so we are still new with this whole parenting thing. What is safe for the baby? Will the baby go through "withdrawals" if we deny her something she has grown attached too? How can we help her get better sleep during the night?

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4 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I suspect that she is waking during the night because she is hungry. Babies have growth spurts at about 2, 3, and 6 weeks, then 3 and 6 months.

A hungry baby will not sleep well.

So I would suggest adding in a night time feed. Try it for a week and see if this gets her to sleep.

We removed the pacifier from our baby at about this time and never went back. She didn't miss it and I didn't miss sleeping propped up against the cot waking up every 15 minutes when the pacifier fell out.

We also had a week of sleeping through the night at about three months. It was another five months before we had our next one!

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So what did you do to remove the pacifier? Did you just do it cold turkey? We were trying to wean her during the day and then get rid of it all together, but she started yelling every time we'd put her in the crib, so we caved and we've gone back to giving it to her every 30ish mins.. –  joe_coolish Jan 6 '12 at 15:56
    
@joe_coolish We just went cold turkey and substituted it with bottles of expressed milk. It amazed me how much I'd spent messing about with dummies and rocking and a lot of palava when what she really just wanted was a good feed. –  Mongus Pong Jan 6 '12 at 17:09
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We would do bottles rather than breast at night because it was a lot easier to get what she needed down her quickly with a bottle. During the day she would have breast. She did spend hours per day sucking one of those which was probably why a pacifier wasn't so necessary. –  Mongus Pong Jan 6 '12 at 17:11
    
Thanks! Did you still give her a pacifier during the day, or was it completely gone? –  joe_coolish Jan 6 '12 at 18:38
    
@joe_coolish I don't think we ever really used the pacifier during the day. Perhaps thats why she never built up much of a dependence. –  Mongus Pong Jan 7 '12 at 12:04
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I took the pacifiers away at around 9 month, after that the theory goes that is much harder to take it way. In terms of your 3 month old...taking it away completely during the day is important or you will soon have a child who uses it all the time and this could impede her talking if it lasts to long. In terms of night a few things to try. Let her cry for just a couple of minutes (unless you like the cry it out method) to see if she will sooth herself. If not go in and give it to her. If this doesn't work after a few night try putting lots of pacifiers in her bed so she is sure to find one when she reaches around and lastly be patient, she is very young still.

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Do you have any reference supporting the claim that pacifier use at 3 months can interfere with language development? –  Beofett Jan 2 '12 at 22:22
    
@Beofett No official study I have seen, however I have four kids, all with many friends, and simply from noticing, those with pacifiers all the time do seem to have initial issues speaking and being understood, even when they do both (which is not often) to take the pacifier from their mouths. –  morah hochman Jan 2 '12 at 23:43
    
A quick google indicates that even experts who have concerns about pacifier impact on language feel it is okay to use them until 1 year. Others feel that pacifiers interfering with speech is a myth. Taking problems understanding the speech of a few habitual pacifier users (who are presumably much older) and extending it to "take it away from your 3 month old now or you will have problems" is too far a stretch. –  Beofett Jan 3 '12 at 2:08
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3 months of age is way too early to completely wean her off the pacifier, especially for the night. I think on average you can expect a child to go without the pacifier at 1½-2 years of age during daytime, and 2-3 years for nighttime.

This is of course assuming that the parents are even pro-pacifier, but you seem to be. If I'm mistaken, please edit your question to explain your plans/ambitions regarding pacifiers.

My wife and just now weaned our 2y3mo old son off the pacifier during the day (except when he's unhappy for whatever reason), but I think it'll be good while yet regarding nighttime. He's going to bed with at least 2 pacifiers. They also help him (and us!) fall back to sleep at night; he only seriously wakes us if he can't find any of them. Frankly I don't mind this at all, as long as it helps him fall asleep. The pacifier falls out when he falls asleep, so I am not worried about dental consequences.

By the way: If your daughter is only 3 months old and already pretty much sleeps through the night, then consider yourself exceptionally lucky.

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Thank you for your comment. We have talked about implementing the Ferber Method to help her with her sleeping. From what we've read, Dr. Ferber recommends waiting till the baby is at least 4mo and suggests starting around 6mo. What are your thoughts on the Ferber Method? He seems to think that 4mo babies are able to self soothe and consistantly sleep through the night –  joe_coolish Jan 6 '12 at 16:01
    
@joe_coolish sorry I have no thoughts on the Ferber Method because I'm not familiar with it :-) –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Jan 6 '12 at 16:42
    
Neither am I! :-D The gist is you define specific time intervals that you allow your baby to cry before you step in and comfort the child. Each interval increases until the last interval, and then it just repeats. For example: Allow your baby to cry for 3mins then soothe, followed by 5 mins, then repeat 10 min intervals. Each sleep cycle resets the clock to 3mins. eventually the child is supposed to be able to self soothe and sleep better. –  joe_coolish Jan 6 '12 at 16:56
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@joe_coolish We used a variant of the Ferber method when my son was about 6-7 months old. IMHO, 4mo is very early for sleep training. Some children will naturally adjust to sleep training better than others (my son made the transition after 2-3 nights), so its not inconceivable that it would work on a 4mo, but my suggestion would be to either wait a few more months, or, if you want to try asap, look for signs that it is not going well, and be willing to abandon the attempts for another month or three if it looks like you're getting a lot of resistance. –  Beofett Jan 6 '12 at 17:17
    
@Beofett - That is very helpful. –  joe_coolish Jan 6 '12 at 18:36
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I am so not an expert but our 3 year old son just gave up his pacifier. He was told he would get a "special" gift at Christmas if he gave it up that night. Prior to that, it was a huge battle to ever get him to go to sleep without it. And if he ever lost it in the middle of the night, we heard about it. In fact, I think the whole neighborhood heard it. The special gift did the trick, and we are successfully 8 days without a pacifier.

I say get your own sleep and worry about it at age 1. Or 2. Or 3. At 3 we could bargain with him.

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