10 Spot Ramble: Pacifiers

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yenhoon / stock.xchng

These days I never leave home without a binky. Since Bubby’s birth last July the pacifier has become a very important part of our family life.


This rubberized mute button has made life a little more lovely, and tonight as I scrambled to find the pacifier as quickly as possible I realized I don’t know as much as I should about this vital piece of baby equipment.


Ding, ding, ding! This is the start of a 10 Spot Ramble: Pacifier Edition! Sit back, enjoy, and learn a few facts about the accessory that makes your baby suck.


1. Modern pacifiers were designed about 100 years ago. Early pacifiers were typically made of coral and included some sort of rattle (to ward off evil spirits). When manufacturers found ways to mold latex and rubber during the Industrial Revolution our modern day soft nipple pacifiers were created.


2. Pacifier use is associated with a decrease in SIDS. The sucking motion needed to use a binky strengthens the mouth and face muscles of a baby – and some research suggests this strength helps babies avoid Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.


3. Binkys Make the Boys Boring. Earlier this year some research found that boys using pacifiers fell behind in emotional development. The theory is the binky use keeps them from copying the facial expressions of their caregivers and thus inhibited empathetic development. (Girls were exempt from this problem!)


4. The French Hate Soothers. In 1926, France banned the sale of the sucette; deeming them dangerous and unsanitary. It’s obvious to me the French must have had larger families – from personal experience the pacifier of my fourth child is significantly more dangerous and unsanitary than the pacifier of my first child! (10 second rule always applies!)


5. Pacifiers Used to Lead to Drunken Sugar Shock. Called a sugar-teat or sugar-rag, the cloth soother was widely used in America well into the nineteenth century and often made of linen with a measure of sugar securely knotted inside. Bowing to the folk wisdom of the day, the rags were often dipped in brandy or whiskey to ease teething pain. That’s a cocktail for you, huh?!


6. “Binky” Isn’t Just A Nickname. Of the many nicknames for a pacifier, one of the most common is “binky.” That particular name is, however, the registered trademark of the Playtex corporation.


7. Pacifiers Keep Kids from the Nicotine. Adults who used pacifiers as babies are less likely to smoke. Human babies have a very real need to suck for comfort and it seems a lack of comfort and skin to skin contact can cause addictive behaviours in later life.


8. Not Just for Babies. Adult-sized pacifiers, consisting of a standard baby pacifier guard but a larger, wider nipple, are used by some members of the Adult Baby community. The nipples are often referred to as NUK5s, after the NUK brand of baby pacifiers manufactured by the German company MAPA GmbH. They are sold under the name NUK Medicpro L or NUK Size 5.


9. Snoring? Use a Paci. While we’re on the topic of adult pacifier use, don’t judge. If you have a snoring problem there’s a good chance using a pacifier at night could solve it! Recent studies have shown that pacifier use among adults may cut down or eliminate snoring.


10. Pacifier Use Associated with Moral Development. Sigmund Freud cited writings by a German pediatrician named Lindner, who believed that satisfying the suck reflex with a pacifier or thumb was inherently sexual. Freud identified this behavior as a definitive example of infant sexuality; as a result, pacifiers were briefly associated with “negative moral development.”


In the words of an esteemed human observer, Paul Harvey, now you know “The Rest of the Story” about the pacifier! Don’t you feel more confident armed with this trivia?



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2 thoughts on “10 Spot Ramble: Pacifiers

  • March 25, 2013 at 12:40 am

    Very funny information. Now I also know where my name is coming from. Pawkiss, Little Binky 😉

  • March 25, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    Ah! I love that we share an affinity for useless trivia! 🙂

    I was not familiar with the “Adult Baby” reference, so I looked it up. I regret my curiosity.

    With our kids, we attempted pacifier use with the first two, but neither took to it, and it was too much of a hassle in my opinion. The oldest, at a year old, began sucking her thumb. The second was satisfied without either. (He’d rather eat a steak.) With our youngest, we used a pacifier briefly to help increase her sucking ability, which improved her ability to nurse (preemies don’t have a sucking instinct), but after a few months, she switched to her thumb.

    I see pros and cons to both. Thumbs are infinitely more convenient. (They can’t be dropped.) However, the option to eliminate the use of the pacifier at will is very appealing.


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