Are you on Team Pacifier or No?
Who me? You want to know what I think? I am pro-paci. For me, it's simple. Independent tool that my baby likes. Safe to use until age 3 years according to dentists. Helps my kids fall asleep and back to sleep independently and easily. Check, check check. Yes, please.
Both of my kids used pacifiers for sleep until their 3rd birthday. Thankfully, weaning them away was much easier than I anticipated. However, there is a caveat to my recommendation. And while I am at it, I'll share a few tips on how to handle pacis that fall out of the crib (accidently or intentionally thrown out) and still require you to go in in the middle of the night to retrieve them.
Baby Less Than 7 Months (here's the caveat)
If the pacifier helps your baby fall asleep/back to sleep easily, but your babe is still swaddled or unable to put the paci back in their mouth themselves, you, of course, must still be part of the process. Which is lame. Because it means you are still getting up overnight.
The magic age when your baby is developmentally able to find the pacifier and put it back their mouth themselves, is 7 months. If you are reading this with your mouth gaping open because your baby is much older than 7 months, but still requiring you to put the paci back in their mouth, you may be getting played. Not in a mean way. Your baby just enjoys your visits. Here's a tip, instead of putting the paci back in their mouth for them, hand it to them. Do this for a few nights. Next, push it beside their hand for them to pick up on their own. Then just pick it up and put it back down on the mattress for your kiddo to find and put it in their mouth themselves. The more work your kiddo has to do to put the paci back in his or her own mouth, the more likely he or she will begin doing this without calling out for you.
However, if your baby is less than 7 months, is still swaddled, or just not yet able to put the paci in their mouth independently, read on. You must decide how painful it is to get up and put the paci back in their mouth. How often is it? How close to 7 months is your baby? Is putting the paci in their mouth the only thing your babe needs to fall back to sleep? And then you can decide. Do you hang in there until 7 months? Or do you teach your babe how to fall asleep without the paci? Totally your call. I'm here to help if you want to ditch the paci and teach your babe how to fall asleep without it.
Pacifier Falls Out of Crib
If the pacifier is falling out of the crib overnight, requiring you to go back in, find it on the floor, give it back to your kiddo...
Load the crib up with tons of pacifiers after your kiddo falls asleep at night. That way if one paci falls out, there are many more to choose from.
AND/OR attach the paci to a wub-a-nub or lovey so it isn't able to fall through the cracks.
Child Throws Pacifier Out of Crib
If your have a kid who throws their paci out of the crib in an effort to get you to come in and give it back to them. Don't.
Tell your kiddo ahead of time that you are too sleepy overnight to find the paci. Remind them to hang on to it. And then when they throw it out and throw a huge fit because you aren't handing them their paci.... follow through! They are testing you to see if you really mean it. You do. It will be a hard night the first time you follow through on this. Maybe even the 2nd or 3rd night. But if you are consistent. And remind your kiddo to hang on to the paci before bed each night (in a loving way), he or she will surly hang on to that paci.