DEAR ABBY: I am a child psychologist and the mother of two. There is certainly controversy in the field of child development concerning pacifiers. However, most professionals believe that there is no harm in giving pacifiers to infants as long as the pacifier is "orthodontically approved" -- meaning the shape prevents the development of a tongue-thrusting habit.
It is important to understand that the sucking reflex, being necessary for survival, is the strongest reflex in a newborn. Some infants display a stronger need to suck than others. If a mother were to attempt to satisfy this need with breast or bottle, the result would be overfeeding -- and a very tired mother.
Use of a pacifier is harmless as long as the infant is weaned from it, much as one weans a baby from a bottle.
My younger daughter was born with an extremely strong sucking reflex. When the pediatrician came to the hospital and lifted her from her bassinet, all of the bedding came with her -- she had tried to stuff it into her mouth! The pediatrician said, "I hope you have a pacifier at home."
Abby, the next time you print a letter from a "child development specialist," please check with other professionals before unnecessarily alarming thousands of parents who are already bombarded with well-intentioned advice from every side. As with everything, moderation is the key. -- PRO-PACIFIER, MONROE, MICH.
DEAR PRO-PACIFIER: Meet another pro-pacifier enthusiast who shares your opinion of the child development specialist.
DEAR ABBY: I am really incensed by this "child development specialist" who, by sheer ego and self-importance, purports to know more than the instincts of a mother.
I am equally incensed at her allegation that parents who give their children pacifiers are really pacifying themselves to keep their children quiet.
How dare this "child development specialist" insinuate that I am a bad mother for using pacifiers! If I were to listen to the constantly changing theories of these child development specialists and actually put to use some of their theories, my children would be so confused, they wouldn't know which way is up!
I would like to see the research that backs up her theory that the use of pacifiers can lead to smoking, overeating and alcoholism. Furthermore, what makes this woman a "child development specialist"? Is it education or experience? If experience counts for anything, I am a child development specialist myself. I'm raising twins. -- PAM ISAACSON, EL PASO