God, parents, can’t you do ANYTHING right? Not that it’s entirely your fault, since every 8 seconds a new study comes out to tell you that something you were told was perfectly safe or healthy or even beneficial to your should is actually probably killing your child right now.
Sometimes the new study goes the other way, however, essentially saying, “Oh, wait—nevermind. Our bad.” Like, for example, a study in the news today, which suggests that pacifiers actually might help with breastfeeding rather than causing “nipple confusion,” as was the most recent opinion until this morning. In fact, at OHSU’s Children’s Hospital, where soothers were put on “lockdown” to bring breastfeeding numbers up, the hospital staff instead saw a 10% drop in exclusive breastfeeding. But wait. Don’t plug that baby’s mouth full of rubber just yet.
The World Health Organization’s “10 Steps To Successful Breastfeeding” list indicates that breastfeeding infants should never be given a pacifier or artificial teat, which is why OHSU had removed pacifiers from the ward, but based on their admittedly limited and observation-based sample, the anti-pacifier directive didn’t seem to lead to higher success rates with exclusive breastfeeding dropping their stats from 80% to 70% of infants subsisting solely on mother’s milk.
But it’s important to note that this is not a conclusive study. Actually, as far as I can tell, it’s not a proper study at all. It’s based on observations made at one hospital with no controls in place for things like mothers bringing in outside pacifiers. Certainly the observations made here raise questions about the veracity of conventional wisdom about nipple confusion, but you gotta love the way the media is taking this and running with it. Today Moms is all, “Oh hey you guys, no more nipple confusion, because at one hospital they found sketchy evidence that it might not be a thing!”
A great deal more study shall be in order before we can determine whether current recommendations on pacifiers are wrong. (Okay, so wait. We’re still on “pacifiers before 6 months are bad, m’kay?” Is that right? I think I confused myself.) So, yeah, I’ll be over here holding my breath for some sort of consensus on that, along with things like co-sleeping and attachment parenting and whether it’s okay to wear brown shoes with a black purse. I’m sure we’ll have a reliable directive any day now.
I want to make it clear that I am by no means anti-science. I actually own a t-shirt that says “I Believe in Science.” It’s kind of my thing. But I do grow weary of the way media takes one flimsy study that may contradict an actually substantial one and waves it around all, “HEAR YE HEAR YE! EVERYTHING YOU KNOW IS WRONG! (I mean maybe, according to a sample of 25 people in this one place based on casual observations. Actually, we don’t really know anything different – it’s just a slow news day. As you were.)”
Plus, every time a “news story” like this crops up, it leads to a bunch of armchair parents (and, yes, I’m self-aware enough to realize that writing this post puts me among them) who must give their two cents in comments sections and blog posts, until once again the whole world is telling ladies how to raise their babies as if ladies have not been raising babies since, oh, I don’t know…forever? Here’s my advice, moms: just keep doing your best, and try to get some sleep, okay? I assure you, as many times as you’re hearing that you’re doing everything wrong, you’re probably not.