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Why is my toddler so attached to his pacifier?

Psychologically, there is something to the notion that a toddler is working very hard on independence, and binkies and other comfort “loveys” are there to help support that independence. There is so much turmoil in a toddler’s life. Things are so out of their control, and a little self-soothing goes a long way. This won’t hurt him psychologically; rather, it tells him that Mom and Dad will support him in his efforts to cope and make himself feel better. He will move on, when he’s ready for the next step, developmentally (which will probably be the annoying preschooler’s habit of: Nose-picking! Betcha can’t wait for that one!).
Shari Green
Dental Hygiene

It is actually a simple answer. Pacifiers involve sucking.

Babies are conditioned at birth to suck for survival, and are "wired" to derive a vast amount of pleasure from this act, as a result of this innate necessity. When we think about why babies suck, and when they suck, it all makes perfect sense. For example, at birth a newborn derives milk and pleasure form the act of sucking, and before long may begin to associate the sucking behavior with the positive experiences of mommy, closeness, and nourishment... All powerful and wonderfully amazing rewards for any baby to partake in! But the true biochemical explanation goes far deeper than that.

When a baby sucks a pacifier, thumb, finger, etc. beta endorphin in released during the sucking process which attaches/activates to opiate receptors/the opiate reward system in the brain. Sucking behavior is thus reinforced with a powerful reward system that nature intended us to have all along. Little did nature know that the process could persist well into later childhood if permitted as a result.

It is tough for a tot to take on a battle with the pleasure center of the brain, and if a pacifier is around, one can guess how that battle will end. 

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.