CAREGIVER COACHING · BIRTH THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL
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Speech for suckers
There is no clear relationship between pacifier use and later speech sound disorders; SLPs should consider the whole picture when counseling families on pacifier use.
June 11, 2021
I was leaving my mother's group when one of the other moms pulled me aside. We were all in that newborn stage where you’re wild-eyed, wild-haired, and you have no idea what you’re doing but you wish it involved about five times more sleep. “You’re a speech therapist, right?” I managed to forgo the lecture on correct titles. “I am.” “I know the nurse says we shouldn’t use pacifiers because it will cause speech delays, but my baby won’t sleep without it. I don’t know what to do. Is it really that bad?”
I knew what advice to give as a mother (“Do whatever gets you through this incredibly difficult stage; also, you’re beautiful and amazing; also, can I buy you a cup of decaf and a muffin?”) but as an SLP, I wasn’t sure. I knew the line amongst health professionals was to discourage pacifier use, but I didn’t know the state of the evidence. Four years later, my hair has settled somewhat, and I’m ready to learn.
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