Sexton is an assistant professor of family medicine at Georgetown's medical school and a co-author of the book "Pacifiers Anonymous: How to Kick the Pacifier or Thumb Sucking Habit." What are some of the questions behind pacifier use?

Is it really safe? And does it affect breastfeeding? Is it taboo to use it? Are they too old to be using it now? You may touch a little bit on this stuff in medical training, but there are so many other things to learn that it's not a huge focus.

Were there common threads in people's experiences?

There [were] some huge common threads. I didn't want to [only] look at the pacifier, but I wanted to look at the thumb, too. Typically, babies start to use a pacifier at a younger age than the thumb because parents give it to them. Babies can suck their thumbs in utero, but don't have the motor skills to do it once they're born.

What are some benefits to the habit?

One of the biggest benefits is used for pain. Another benefit is it helps premature infants learn to suck so they can feed and leave the hospital sooner.

Why can parents become attached to the pacifier as well?

A happy child equals a happy parent. A lot of babies use pacifiers for sleep. If you're a busy parent, you need that sleep. That's probably the biggest thing.

What?s been your personal experience with it?

I actually was a little addict myself and kind of joked around about it with my parents ?that the zebra took my pacifier when I was 2. I was successful with both kids; they [stopped] around the age of 2, or maybe a little after. It ends up being a lot easier on the kids than the parents think. For me, it was months of [angst] trying to figure out when to do it.

David Sherfinski