This is for you, mommas, the ones who are agonizing over whether to give your screaming baby a paci, nurse yet again, or walk/rock/run out screaming.
I have fours kids. I have nursed all four. The three older ones all weaned on their own, at about a year. So the nursing went well. Out of four, three took pacifiers. I remember feeling guilty about giving it to my oldest, worrying about nipple confusion, decreasing milk supply, inability to self-soothe and baby's dependence on paci. At the end, between being sleep-deprived, having to go back to work for a month and having a baby who was clearly soothed by a paci, I settled on giving it to him for naps only. I took it away around 6 months, and he did not miss it. In fact, when he was around 9 months old and found one of his old pacifiers lying around, he played with it and then stuck it in his mouth the wrong way! He clearly had no recollection what this object was for.
7 yo did not take a paci, and not for the lack of trying on my part. He just yelled and yelled, and did not sleep. After trying three different kinds, we gave up. He was a quick nurser, too, so it's not like he preferred breast over paci, he was just no interested in the whole thing. Interestingly, he was the kid who took the longest to stop putting things in his mouth. He still will chew on random things occasionally, because he likes it.
3 yo got paci for naps, as her older brother did. With her, I was in no hurry to take it away, but around a year or so, when I was putting her for a nap, I decided to see what happens. I put her down, covered her with her blankie. She said: "Paci?" I said: "No paci" in a calm tone. She said: "OK" and settled down for a nap. I could not believe it! Wasn't she supposed to throw a fit or at least ask about it again? And that was the end of her paci use.
The baby is 6 months old, and is nursing exclusively, except for occasional food tastes that he grabs from me. He also takes paci just for sleeping. I tried Soothie brand with him, as that's what hospital provided, and I heard that other kids like those more, but, just as his siblings, he preferred Gerber's Nuk. I am in no rush to take his paci away, either.
I know that some moms like to give the baby their finger to suck on, and I would do that in an emergency, as in, when there is no paci in sight. However, the obvious problem is that your finger is attached to you, and cannot be placed in a crib or carseat with a baby. It also might not always be at its cleanest...
Go ahead, give that pacifier to your baby. And get some sleep