There’s good reason we come to depend on the binkies and pacies and nubbies. They teach our children how to self-soothe. They help during sleeptime. They are even recommended for the first year at naptime and bedtime by the American Academy of Pediatrics to help reduce the risk of SIDS. That said, there are potential health reasons to eventually limit use: Kids who don’t use pacifiers have fewer ear infections. If your preschooler seems to be developing speech and language problems, the pacifier can make those problems worse.
It’s a lot to think about, especially when you know how your child feels about his binky. What’s the best way to start the process of saying good-bye to it?
It really depends on your child. Some parents do have success with the cold turkey approach, as in, “out of sight, out of mind.” Most children do well with a slow wean. Make a plan for when you will phase out the binky and involve your toddler, starting perhaps by limiting the binky to bedtime only.
You can even get a little creative, which makes the process fun:
•Trade in Binky for a Toy. One popular idea is to leave all the binkies in a shoebox or bag on the kitchen counter for the Binky Fairy. The night before, have your child say good-bye to the binkies, knowing that in their place will be a surprise from the Binky Fairy in the morning. This strategy seems to work well with parents and children.
•You can give away your binkies to “all the new babies” next time you’re at the doctor’s office, since she is a big girl now. Of course, getting your toddler involved in this process is crucial to its success and her happiness.
•Read a book with your child that can explain what he can expect from the weaning process, such as, The Binky Ba-Ba Fairy by Heather Knickerbocker-Silon www.amazon.com.
•Cuddletime. Does she reach for her binky because she needs soothing? Cuddletime with mommy or daddy in the rocking chair, with a favorite book, offers the soothing they’re seeking.
Safety note: Putting a yucky taste on the pacifier is a tactic some parents try (something harmless like pickle juice) but don’t alter the pacifier in any way. Safety experts and doctors warn against using pacifiers that show signs of wear, so altering the pacifier by, say, cutting the tip, could be potentially dangerous – small pieces could break off and become a choking hazard.
Keep in mind that while many parents cite success stories after a day or two or three of the weaning process, sometimes, it’s just not time yet. Some children really do need to suck, and forcing him to give up the pacifier may have him reach for something else, like his thumb. But overall, it’s good to know that many kids give up the pacifier all by themselves, when they’re ready.