Self Soothe or Pacifier?

Updated on April 21, 2011
S.J. asks from Miami, FL
7 answers

My friend had a baby 6 months ago. I’ve visited with her several times. She is an amazing Mom and it is obvious she just adores her baby girl. This is her first.

One thing I’ve noticed she does is every time her daughter either fusses even for a second or puts her own fingers (not talking about thumb) in her mouth to suck on them, she immediately (almost frantic) will put a pacifier in her mouth to get her not fuss or pushes the baby’s fingers out of her mouth and inserts pacifier.

She was at my house for 4 hrs this wknd. Her baby is SSSOOOOO cute and just smiles A LOT. During her visit anytime her daughter would utter any kind of fuss, she would frantically look for the pacifier to put in her mouth.

Same thing if her baby tried to suck on her fingers.

As she was searching in her diaper bag for the pacifier she was telling me how many pacifiers she has bought and has around the house so one is always available. She went on to say that she doesn’t understand why her daughter keeps putting her fingers in her mouth and how frustrating it is.

I just commented that it is perfectly natural for a baby to do that and that it was her way of self soothing. She looked at me like I just spoke in a foreign language and asked me what I did with my kids.

Now my kids are older so I don’t know what is recommended for babies now, but I asked her what her Dr. said.

She said her Dr. is the one who advised her to do that. Her Dr. basically told her to just continue to push her fingers out of her mouth and insert pacifier whenever she tries to suck on her fingers. Now I’m not talking about her thumb. The baby puts her index finger and middle finger in her mouth. Isn’t that natural? The Dr. told her the same thing if the baby starts to fuss if she is not hungry or tired.

I clearly remember my Dr. encouraging us to let our kids self soothe in that manner and neither one of my kids ever sucked their thumbs.

Has anyone ever been told to NOT let babies suck on their own fingers or insert pacifier if baby gets fussy??? I've just never heard of a Dr. recommending this.

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answers from Chattanooga on

I did something similar... NOT on the advice of my pediatrician, but because I wanted to encourage the pacifier instead of finger/thumb sucking. (Pedi. did say it was OK to do though) Babies usually suck their fingers until they 'discover' their thumbs... I figured that it will be MUCH easier to break the pacifier habit than thumb-sucking later on in life. So if she was sucking her fingers, I would replace with a paci. Although, I usually let her fuss and soothe herself. The only time I gave her the paci was when she wanted to suck on her hands.

I figure this is one of those instances where the pedi. gave personal parenting advise rather than medical fact. There is no 'right' vs. 'wrong' here... it's simply 'thumb (fingers)' vs. 'paci.' It's kind of like how one doctor might tell you to CIO while another might reccomend going to a crying baby.

My DD isn't really a sucker now though... at 11 months, she only takes the paci. when she's sleeping.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I've never heard that recommendation either. Fingers are always available and very acceptable as a way of self soothing. I'd suggest to your friend that she double check this with her doctor. I think it's possible that she misunderstood him. He may have told her it was OK to use the pacifier when she asked about fingers.

I would be concerned, if I were the mother, that my baby would become totally dependent on the pacifier which would then make it difficult to remove it's use once she starts getting teeth. Fingers are much less intrusive as well as giving the baby immediate feedback when she bites down on them while teething.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I took the pacifier from my son a little over a month ago. I am so glad that I did it. 6 months might still be a little young to ween her off, but if she can handle the crying and crankiness, I say go for it. The older you wait, the harder it will be.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Miami on

That baby (and eventually child) will have big self regulation problems in all areas. Hand to mouth sets up different reflexes throughout the first year of life. The mind body connection forms in this way, not by an outside source being popped in.



answers from Tampa on

This is a problem for you- why?

Digestive juices on finger nail beds is not a great idea. FYI

best, k


answers from Chicago on

My aunt decided not to use a pacifier for her kids. One in particular had a horrible habit of sucking her fingers years later. I think until about age 4 or so.

Also I used a pacifier with my girls. But when I saw them "nibbling" on their hands, I knew they were actually hungry again. Sometimes they nibbled sometimes they cried at feeding times. At times I let them self soothe or used the pacifier.

I've seen people who didn't want to use the pacifier expect their sitters to wait until that baby self soothed. Not good for the sitter. (I have a girlfriend and if her baby cried one fraction of a second, LITERALLY, I was supposed to immeditaly pick him up. Most times he cried simply because I layed him down to change his diaper or because I walked out of the room.) So if your friend is using a pacifier to soothe her baby, let her. Unless of course, you're willing to be the one who doesn't mine watching a screaming baby trying to self soothe.



answers from Oklahoma City on

I wish with all my heart I had used a pacifier for my daughter. She needed to suck and when I took her bottle away she sucked her fingers. The 2 fingers are crooked, her jaw is recessed, her teeth angled in, her profile is a joke. All because I kept getting told she was too big for a pacifier. I would let her keep it until she was a teenager now if I could go back and do it again.

If kids need to suck they WILL find something to suck. Pacifiers are the least damaging in my opinion.

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