Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison found that pacifiers might stunt emotional development, but only in boys. Psychologists at Wisconsin led three experiments connected low emotional maturity to heavy pacifier use as a child.
Psychologists believe the nookies may make it difficult to imitate adult’s facial expressions, a skill that children are perfecting at the binky age. The theory held true for both the six and seven-year-olds and college-aged males that the researchers studied.
The six and seven-year-olds were measured by the amount they mimicked expressions on a video and college males took perspective taking tests. Both experiments were meant to mimic empathy. And in both cases, those who reported heavy pacifier use as children scored lower.
Girls, however, showed no direct correlations between emotional maturity and pacifier use as a child. It may be due to the fact that girls tend to develop earlier, but the reason remains a mystery.
This problem only occurs when facial expressions are being utilized. During times like nap and bedtimes, children are sleeping so expression mimicking is not happening. So even though it may be wise to wean boys off of binkies, this doesn’t mean that parents of baby boys should ditch pacifiers completely.
-University of Wisconsin, Madison news releases. 9/18/12.
-Photo courtesy of Carlos Porto/freedigitalphotos.net