Your Baby's Pacifier Could Be Ruining Your Relationship

So, according to a new study, pacifiers may ruin the emotional bond between babies and their caregivers. Is there no end to the psychobabble designed to give me mommy guilt? Pass me a bar of chocolate, please. Stat.

Here’s the gist: a team of psychologists recruited 29 women and monitored their facial reactions with electrodes as they viewed photographs of babies with pacifiers, with white squares covering their mouths, or with nothing on their faces. Babies displayed one of three emotions -- happiness, sadness, or anger -- or a neutral expression, and the women rated the intensity. 


The findings? It didn't make a difference how babies were covered; the women’s reciprocal facial expressions were muted when babies had a pacifier or white square over their mouths. According to the authors:

The relationship between facial activity and the corresponding experience of emotion is particularly important for pre-verbal infants, because they rely on facial expressions of caretakers for behavioral regulation and learning.

Oh boy.

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Well, the damage is done. Now I have to wonder if I emotionally scarred my son by popping a paci in his mouth with wild abandon during the first couple years of his life. Add it to the never-ending list. I still honor the almighty binky for sparing me from many evil looks. It made me a more productive -- and zen -- mom. Sorry if I didn't show you how happy you made me when you had a pacifier in your mouth, sweet son of mine. I was definitely smiling on the inside.

Calling strange men “dada” at Target? (Oh, how I loved that phase.) Paci to the rescue. Putting germ-infested toys in his mouth at the library? Stop; binky time! Meltdown in the grocery store? I did the unthinkable by dipping his pacifier in juice before giving it to him. Now I am in trouble with the researchers and pediatric dentists. 

What do you think, moms? Are pacifiers worth the emotional risk? I have to say yes! Pacifiers were saviors for me at times. Bedtime would have been even harder without them. They managed to soothe my son anytime he was in distress ... even when I fell short. For me, the risk is worth the reward. (Just give me that huge piece of chocolate already.)

Do you think pacifiers impact the emotional bond babies have with their caretakers? Or are they little rubber lifesavers that should be used guilt-free?

Image via © Image Source/Corbis

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