If your child never took to his pacifier, consider yourself lucky. You see, it is no easy task to break the pacifier habit. Pacifiers, or binkies as they are often called, appeal to a baby’s natural instinct to suckle for comfort. They serve many babies well, soothing them in their fussiest hours. The American Academy of Pediatrics even recommends them as a method of combating SIDS in very young infants. They do, however, have something of an acceptability shelf life. At a year old, many pediatricians recommend kicking the binky habit because using it past a year can lead to dental or speech difficulties down the road. What is now such a great help can become quite a hindrance, which means that you should put an end to pacifier dependence at some point. Of course, there is no way to explain this to your one year old. Instead, you’ll have to employ a method that allows you to wean your baby from his binky.
The first method you can try is cold turkey. Gather up all the pacifiers in the house, ensuring there are none stashed in toys or hidden behind crib bumpers, and see how it goes. Sometimes, believe it or not, this works without a hitch. The reason this can work is that children really have no need to suck once they turn a year old, so if they are not emotionally dependent on the pacifier they might just forget about it. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s worth a shot.
Three Day Method
If your baby was not receptive to kicking the paci habit cold turkey, try the three day method. This works particularly well for children who are a bit older. With this technique, you tell your child on the first day that you can see how big he is getting and how you know he wants to be a big kid. Then, you tell him that you want him to try to give up his binky in three days. Say this matter-of-factly and come across as happy and excited as you break this news. Then, on the second day, tell your child again that tomorrow is the “big day.” Tell him this twice on the second day. On the third and final day, engage your child in a scavenger hunt to collect all the binkies in the house and explain that they will be recycled and made into new toys. You might even want to go and get your child a toy after this so that he can feel like his binky is still with him in a new form. With this method you are supposed to stay positive and follow through, even if your child protests. The theory behind this is that your child will get used to the idea gradually and that it should not take longer than 48 hours for your child to get over his loss after the third day.
If you prefer to remove the pacifier more slowly, you can utilize the cutting down method. First, make sure the pacifier is not available all the time. In fact, you should start keeping the binkies up in a high cabinet out of the child’s sight. When your child does not need the binky because he is not in any distress, keep it away from him. If he asks for it, see if you can distract him with something else. This is a great time to break out a new toy or play a new game. Try to only give the pacifier to your child in times of great distress and to sleep. Then, only provide it when it’s time for your little one to go to sleep. Your child will slowly get used to not having the pacifier using this method. If you switch up the daily routine when you start using the cutting down method, it makes it even easier for your child to accept. Because the child’s routine is different, he will not be associating certain times of the day with the binky – everything will be new. When it comes time to give up the binky at bedtime, you might want to introduce a new blanket or stuffed animal to sleep with, or a musical toy for his crib.
The “Who, Me?” Method
If you want an even sneakier method, you can try putting pin holes in your child’s binkies. Be sure the pin is sterile and that it is only the tiniest hole near the base of the rubber. If you put very tiny pinholes in the binkies, he won’t get the satisfaction from sucking since the bulb won’t be as full of air. Your child may then think it is broken or that he no longer likes it and simply stop using it on his own. You will get none of blame for the loss of the binky when you use this method.
In the end, while it is preferable for your baby to give up his pacifier before he makes an emotional connection to it, it should not be a cause for great stress. After all, most kids will willingly give it up by the age of three or four. Since children are developing new coping skills all the time, they could very well wind up giving up the binky on their own, naturally. Because your child has to give up so many other things around the same time, such as nursing and/or his bottle and his diapers, depriving him of his pacifier may just be too much for him if he is overly attached to it as a comfort object. If this is the case, expert pediatricians like Dr. Karen Breach of North Carolina say it is okay for the pacifier to be the last thing that falls to the wayside.