Kicking the Pacifier Habit
By Jill Besnoy of honestbaby.com
Sometimes the pacifier habit will phase out on its own. But sometimes your kid is entering Kindergarten and people are giving you looks (no judgments here). It’s time to bring in the big guns. Getting your child to give up the pacifier without major drama can be quite a challenge. Here are ten tips, which might make it easier.
Throw out the old pacifiers as they wear out and though you may be tempted…do not buy new ones. Try to keep your child updated on how many remain. (Only four pacifiers left!) This will help set the stage for the eventual retirement of the entire pacifier collection. (Oh well…none left.)
As you head towards the final few weeks of the pacifier, begin to gradually discourage your child’s use by making it less accessible. Leave it at home during a short trip to the store (oops!) or only have one available when you go to the park, which gets put away once it is dropped. Think of it as weaning. No one likes going cold turkey.
Encourage your child with positive comments when they are able to go without the pacifier for a certain amount of time. (Wow, you haven’t used your pacifier for an hour!) You can also offer a reward when they successfully give it up. Never underestimate the power of bribery.
Consider making the pacifier less appealing by cutting the tip off and flavoring it with an unpleasant taste. After a few experiences with these pacifiers, your child may not even bother asking for them again. This may not go over well with some children and is reminiscent of that awful “stop nail biting liquid” but hey, if it works…
A cuddly doll or blanket can serve as a temporary substitute to distract your child from the missing pacifier. Whether it’s in the stroller or at bedtime, find a replacement object to grab their attention when they would normally turn to the pacifier. Use sparingly or in a few months you’ll be looking for “Helping Your Child Kick the Blankie habit”.
NO MORE CUTESY NAMES
Once the pacifier is on its way out, drop the cute nickname – binky, paci, dum-dum, whatever your child calls it and only refer to it as the pacifier. Turn it back into the object it is, as opposed to the friendly security blanket it has come to be. And believe us when we tell you…no one likes hearing those cutesy names.
BLAME IT ON “THE RULES”
Set a specific last day of use and blame it on the rules at an event to come. For instance, if your child is starting school you can tell them that kids aren’t allowed to attend if they still use their pacifiers. Or if you’re going on vacation, you can claim they won’t let you in with a pacifier. Odds are your child won’t be willing to give up Disney World for their pacifier.
NO TURNING BACK
Once the pacifier is gone, try to stay firm and not bring it back or you will have to start over. And the cycle will just continue…
If nothing works, compromise. Allowing your child to use the pacifier only at night might be a reasonable compromise for both of you. Some pediatricians say that sucking on the pacifier at night does not misshape their teeth and won’t affect articulation because they are not talking as they sleep. There’s nothing wrong with using the experts to your advantage.
LET THEM USE THE PACIFIER AS LONG AS THEY WANT
If you choose to let them use the pacifier past the point that others think you should, don’t feel badly about it! Be comfortable with your decision. We’ve never met a high school kid who still uses his binky.