Pacifiers. There are some strong opinions out there. My opinions have changed on them over time, but here's where I'm at now: If it works for you, good.
Yes, it's that simple. Yes, I know some say that they're bad for developing teeth, harmful to getting a good breast-feeding routine going, and so on. Yeah, well, if it works for you, good.
I had no intention of EVER giving my kiddos a pacifier. After giving birth to my first, nursing what felt like non-stop, getting SORE, cracked nipples, I succumbed out of pure desperation for a moment of sleep. O wasn't interested at first, but quickly realized the utter joy of non-nutritive sucking.
We had rules, of course. At first, pacifiers were only for bedtime, nap time, car rides that conflicted with meal time, during illness, and places where baby needed to be quiet (church). Then, just bed and car. Then just bed. The final rule: No pacifier by age 2. I have no idea where we got that one, but that's what my husband and I determined was enough. I think it was because we went on a plane ride just before O was 2, we had just weaned him from nursing, and we knew that the pacifier was going to be essential for that trip to succeed.
There was a ceremony. First I snipped the end of the pacifier off. I handed it to O, who was now very displeased with the plug (our word for pacifier), as well as with me. We informed him that he was too big for a plug, that the plug was no good anymore, and that it was trash. We walked him to the trash can, and allowed him to toss it in. After a couple rough nights, he was fine. We did the same with E, and she seems to be handling it well.
My tips for successful use & weaning of pacifiers:
1. Get on the same page with your spouse (& any one else who watches your kids). Make sure everyone knows the rules.
2. Don't let baby have it all day, or control over it. When he/she wakes up, make sure he/she know that it's time to put the plug in it's special place. (Our's went on the dresser by the bed.) This helps baby to not become overly dependent on the pacifier. We also reminded & encouraged our kiddos throughout the day that they were strong enough without a pacifier. (For instance, every time E got hurt or sad she would want her plug. We would encourage her that her plug wasn't necessary--a kiss, hug, and/or prayer would suffice.)
3. Choose your end date, and commit. Don't keep a spare somewhere, just in case it doesn't "work." You're setting yourself up to fail if you keep one.
4. When you're ready to wean, be sure to keep baby active and busy during normal wake times. Get her good and tired, but not over-stimulated or exhausted. Be sure to put her down at her normal nap time/bed time. A good and tired baby won't fight sleep as much as baby with too much energy or one that is over-stimulated. You'll find the right balance.
Some kids never choose a pacifier. Some find other coping mechanisms or a sleeping crutch. Some good, some bad. The pacifier may not be the best option, but--it worked for us.