When Lira was born, I was terrified to give her a pacifier. My head was filled with words like “nipple confusion,” but she was a non-stop nurser… and I do mean NON STOP. So, at the doctor’s urging – cut me some slack because I was a first time mom and thought the doctor knew best – I gave her a binkie and the pacifier habit began.
Now, after four children who were in love with the paci, we have finally said goodbye to the last binkie, and along the way discovered that each child needed a different way to break the pacifier habit. However, when we were successful and avoided many tears, the situation was one where the child had a choice (or at least thought he had a choice), and the pacifiers were removed from the location and left elsewhere.
1. Cold Turkey
Not from my personal experience but from my research, I have learned that if you take the pacifier early enough in a baby’s life, the pacifier habit is easier to break. You wait until the baby is asleep, gently remove the pacifier, and then hold the baby’s chin so the mouth remains closed if he starts to root around for the pacifier.
I waited too long to try this with Lira. However, she was willing to leave her pacifier in the bed and only use it at nap and bedtime. So, when the pacifier came up missing, we had two nights of tears but then the binkie was a memory.
2. Snip It. Snip It Good.
Several people have told me that snipping a tiny hole in the pacifier will cause the child to not enjoy the pacifier any longer as the suction is no longer effective. If the child still uses the binkie after a hole has been cut into the tip, you can gradually cut more and more until the child is ready to toss the “broken” binkie. For whatever reason, my children were never satisfied with throwing their pacis in the trashcan, but I know several parents have successfully used this method.
3. Binkie Baby Gift
Our third born child, Ruble, had a visit to the pediatrician scheduled just prior to her maternity leave. We discussed what he could give her as a gift, and with a little persuasion, Ruble decided to decorate a brown paper bag, place all of his pacis inside, and give it to the doctor as a baby gift for her coming child.
Once we returned home, he did ask to go back and retrieve the pacifiers but we explained that once you give a gift, you cannot take it back. Ruble mentioned the pacifiers for about three days but never cried.
4. An Offer too Good to Refuse
Most recently, we had scheduled the family for a routine visit at the dentist. The idea suddenly occurred to me that this might be the opportunity we needed to bring an end to the decade of pacifiers in our home. Our youngest child, Ariary, seemed to have a stronger attachment to the paci than any of our other children, and in all honesty, I think it stems from her being the baby and me letting her have it more often, not willing to let go of the last babyish habit.
So, I spoke with the dentist by phone and worked out a plan where I would slip a package to the receptionist and when Ariary presented her beloved binkies to the dentist, she would get two new My Little Ponies as a trade.
While your child might not be into ponies, a similar trade will certainly work.
5. A Visit from the Paci Fairy
Our second child, Franc, was rescued from the pacifier habit by a visit from the Paci Fairy. We gathered his pacis together in a basket and left it by the front door, telling him that the Paci Fairy would take the pacifiers to new babies at the hospital. The next morning, Franc woke to find the pacis had been replaced by a special prize.
A few nights later, he placed his prize by the door and asked if the Paci Fairy would trade back but other than a few tears, the transition was easy.
What tricks have you tried to break the pacifier habit? What worked for your child?
Other solutions for parenting dilemmas:
- Check out all the different ways you can recycle baby food jars.
- How to handle the situation when the kids fight.
- Recognizing childhood depression can be tricky.
- I hope you never need to explain death to a child.
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