Pacifier. Binky. Paci. Buppy. Ga ga. Dee dee. Whatever you call it, many moms know it as Mommy’s best friend. Those little rubber plugs are miracle workers, they help to calm a fussy baby, soothe a sleepy baby, and relax a restless one. But when is it time to give it up? And why? And most importantly, how?
WHEN TO GIVE IT UP
12 months. This is when your baby should be transitioning away from bottle to sippy cup or open cup drinking as well.
WHY GIVE THEM UP?
12 months marks the beginning of a dramatic increase in speech development. With frequent pacifier use, your child:
- May be less likely to produce the beginning stages of speech and language development, like babbling and first words.
- Will have his mouth in an unnatural position, potentially affecting the way his tongue and lip muscles develop for proper speech production.
- May develop an unnatural tongue position at rest as the tongue is pushed forward between the teeth. This can lead to the development of a lisped production of “s” and “z” sounds.
- May have more frequent ear infections. One study showed that children who did not use pacifiers had 33 percent fewer middle ear infections.
- May develop an abnormal unnatural arc to their front teeth causing their upper teeth to tip forward toward the lip. There’s no evidence that pacifiers can cause damage to baby teeth, but permanent teeth is a different story.
HOW TO STOP USING THEM
- Sooner rather than later
o Taking away the pacifier when your child is still young (think 3-5 months) can make the transition easier for you and for him as he hasn’t developed the habit as deeply yet and he doesn’t have the ability to express his displeasure or negotiate with words.
- Going Cold Turkey
o You are the parent. You have the power! The transition may be rocky at first, but stick with it for a few days and your child is likely to find another way to calm himself.
o Some creative ideas on how to go cold turkey:
- Lose it; whether intentional or not. Play dumb and say you have no idea where they possibly could have gone.
- Pick a day and reason why the pacifier is going away. For example, “It’s your third birthday and you’re going to be a big boy. Big boys don’t use binkies!”
- Cut off the tip and say the pacifier is broken.
- Leave it for Santa/Easter Bunny/Binky Fairy.
- Give it away. For example, tell your child that the “new babies” need the pacifiers. Package them up and drop them off at the doctors office or day care.
*These ideas are best for older children, 2-3 years old.
o A slow, gradual weaning process may work best for you and your child. Restrict the pacifier use to certain times (i.e. bedtime only) or places (i.e. in the crib or in his room).
- Read about it
o Kids love a good bedtime story, so why not make it one about getting rid of the binky? Here are some recommendations:
- “Bye-bye Binky” by Brigitte Weninger
- “Bye-Bye, Pacifier” (A Muppet Babies book), by Louise Gikow
- “No More Pacifier” by Ricki Booker
- “Pacifiers Are Not Forever” by Elizabeth Verdick