Pacifiers May Stunt Emotional Growth Of Boys
If your baby boy is a binky addict -- or was one -- you can add emotional issues as well as dental problems and ear infections to your list of reasons to feel guilty.
A new study out of the University of Winconsin-Madison found that boys who used pacifiers lacked emotional depth all the way into young adulthood. Pacifier use has been linked to many health issues before but this is the first study to look at the long-term psychological effects.
The boys and men who were given pacifiers as babies were more emotionally stunted, according to the research which looked at 100 grade one and two students watching a video. The pacifier-users were less likely to copy facial expressions while watching the video. The researchers did a second test with university students who self-identified as sussy fans, and the boys also did poorly on two different emotional tests.
Essentially, pacifiers act like Botox -- babies who use them during the day are less expressive, which could lead to a lifetime of being emotional robots (okay, that may be an overstatement). It makes sense - you can't smile when you have something stuck in your mouth.
Babies learn a lot about human emotions through watching and mimicking adult expressions. Researchers suggest that a pacifier may limit a baby's ability to learn because they can't mimic. The research highlighted a difference in the emotional complexity between pacifier-using girls and boys. This difference may be because parents compensate with girls, because they unconsciously assume that girls are more emotionally-connected.
The lead researchers said:
"It could be that parents are inadvertently compensating for girls using the pacifier, because they want their girls to be emotionally sophisticated. Because that's a girly thing. Since girls are not expected to be unemotional, they're stimulated in other ways. But because boys are desired to be unemotional, when you plug them up with a pacifier, you don't do anything to compensate and help them learn about emotions."
We already know the short-term psychological use of binkies on parents -- and it's all good. Because a baby that is quiet and soothed is a lot less stressful on the parent. But I digress.
Over at Baby Center, they are reminding us that just because there is a link between pacifiers and emotional intelligence, it does not mean that the relationship is causal. Babies who use/need a lot of the pacifier may already have some emotional issues.
Even the scientist who conducted the study says that binky use is not all bad. The problem occurs when pacifier use interrupts possible learning time during the day. So, if your baby boy needs a sussy to sleep -- then that is still a good thing (except for all that other stuff they warn you about.)
So, are pacifiers all good, necessary evil or horrible inventions?
Want more chaos? Last year, I said everybody has a favourite child. But do they?