My child took to a pacifier from birth. It was glorious because it served as a sort of baby mute button. He calmed very quickly with the help of his pacifier (or bink as we called it in my house). Because of this, we allowed him to have it all the time, whenever he wanted. Some moms will tell you only to allow it at sleep times. I went a different route.
My son became very attached to his beloved bink. We had about 50 of them. I lived in terror of ever being without one. This was all fine and good when he was a small baby. As he grew into a toddler, the judgement started. You know what I am talking about. The looks from total strangers that would see my son with it, or the comments from family members who thought he was simply too old for it.
My goal was to get rid of it by age 3 simply because that was what was recommended to me by our pediatrician. I listen to doctors with these kind of things, not opinions of others. We made it until about age 2.5 before my son started biting through them. At this point, I turned to other moms for advice. My son was a serious bink addict, and I was afraid this was going to be a nightmare.
Below are some techniques I was given. Maybe they will help someone else who is fighting this battle.
The Cold Turkey
This method is to just take it away and toss it and let your child adjust. This may work beautifully for some families. I, however, value my sleep, and knew this wouldn’t work for us. Many swear by it though.
This method involves taking your child outside to dig a hole in the garden, and plant the pacifier in the ground. Then, when the child isn’t around, you stick a lollipop in the ground and tell them the pacifier grew into it. Its a very cute idea. I chose to skip this one because I didn’t think my son would really grasp the concept at the time. Plus, I did hear a few horror stories about desperate toddlers digging up half the yard in search of their comfort item.
The Stuffed Animal
Another cute idea I was told was to take the child to a store where they can create and make a stuffed animal of their choosing. You put the pacifier inside, and this way they will still have it with them when they want it. I like this idea in theory, but as I mentioned above, my son had about 50. All I envisioned was a hard, lumpy, deformed teddy bear stuffed only with rubber pacifiers. Also, heard some tales of tikes decapitating their toys to get to the jewel they knew was just inside. Think of the massacre!
This one involves dipping the pacifier in something that doesn’t taste very good before giving it to the child. For example, lemon juice. I skipped this one as well. First of all, I just felt mean doing this to my kid. Second, I feel like the taste would wear off quickly once in the child’s mouth. Again, I pictured an endless cycle of standing in the kitchen dipping the pacifier in something yucky over and over. Besides, my son would’ve just located one of the other 50 binks stashed all over the house.
Especially since my son had his pacifier all the time, a lot of moms suggested weaning him off. Start off allowing him to have it only at nap and bedtime. After a while, cut him down to just bedtime. Then get rid of it all together. I sort of gave this a shot but gave in at the first meltdown. What can I say? I am weak sometimes.
This method involves cutting the tip off of the pacifier so that it no longer “sucks” properly. This gave me anxiety because I had a lot of money invested in these stupid things and the thought of intentionally destroying them seemed like such a waste at the time. Plus, what if it didn’t work? Then I’d have to drag an enraged toddler out to a store in a panic situation to replace it. This was my least favorite that I heard.
However, as I mentioned, my son started to bite through them. So one day he asked for it, and I handed him one that had a small crack in it. Not enough that I had to worry about a piece breaking off and him choking. Just big enough that it no longer sucked properly. He gave it the old college try. When it wasn’t working, he would just hold it in his mouth, and it would fall out. Then, he started telling me, “Momma, its broke.”
By the end of the day, he was asking for it less and less. On day 2, he asked for it, and again I gave him the broken one. This time he just held it in his hand. This went on for a couple days. He’d get upset and ask for his bink. He would hold it in his hand until he calmed down. Then he just stopped asking.
Whatever you decide to do, please don’t make yourself crazy with it. I’ve never seen a high school student with a pacifier. Even the most stubborn, strong-willed child wont have it forever. Do what works best for your child and your family.