As parents, we often have expectations for how we think things will be as we raise our children, but we soon learn that these expectations aren't always realistic. I started learning this all-too-common parenting lesson the night our son was born. In the months leading up to his birth, I had researched (like most first-time moms) and decided that I would prefer that my baby not be introduced to a pacifier or a bottle. At least not during the first few weeks of his life while we were both trying to figure out breastfeeding.
But after a crazy birth and complications for both of us, he ended up in the NICU and I was only able to visit him a couple times a day for the first few days after his birth. Due to his complications, he was poked and prodded and soon had an IV in his head. In an attempt to comfort him through those frightening first hours, the nurses gave him a pacifier
. And you know what? I'm so
glad they did! Having a pacifier saved us time, after time, after time, helping us to soothe our baby in moments of stress and to calm him at bedtime. But as we all know, all good things must come to an end. Unfortunately, this also meant we eventually had to face the day that our son would say bye-bye to his binky
. Because we just couldn't send him off to college with it. Our little boy LOVED his pacifier, so we knew we would have to get creative when we got rid of it. He also thrives on routine and HATES when we try to deviate from one of his beloved routines. But I think that's also pretty common for little kids. As we prepared for the day we'd take his pacifiers away, I started researching and reading about ways we could help him go through this transition without tears, or that would, at the very least, cause minimal emotional trauma. Here are a few of my favorite ideas:
Go Cold Turkey
This seems to be the most common method for weaning your child from his pacifier, especially for younger children who haven't become as attached to their binky. If your child is old enough, it might be helpful to sit him down and explain that his binky is going bye-bye, so he can have a little time to prepare. But even with this time to adjust, make sure you're ready to stick to your guns. Don't give in and give it back once you've decided to say bye-bye, or it will just be that much harder next time you try to take it away.
Start Small and Go Slow
This is definitely the gentlest method for weaning your child from his pacifier because it gives both of you time to adjust and learn new ways to soothe or calm your child. No matter what method you end up using, I definitely think saying bye-bye to the binky will be easiest for both
of you if you limit the time your child is allowed to have it. For example, only give your child a pacifier at bedtime and naptime, and during times that you need them to be quiet. And continue to limit and wean your child from the pacifier as much as possible.
When I saw this method, I was sure we had found the perfect way to say bye-bye to my son's binky
! I loved the idea of allowing your child to keep their pacifier, all while providing a replacement object to soothe them. So I showed him videos of other children going to Build-A-Bear and excitedly asked him if he wanted to take his pacifier and put it inside a new stuffed animal to cuddle with. He loved
the idea of going to Build-A-Bear, but he didn't love the idea of putting his binky inside a stuffed animal. I continued to research and slowly try other methods for weaning our son from his pacifier (making it taste bad, cutting the tip off, etc.), and then we finally came up with the perfect
method for him.
Trade It In
I loved the Build-A-Bear idea so much that we finally decided to do something very similar. Instead of putting his binky inside of a stuffed bear, we let him trade it in for a new toy of his choice. We took his binkies to the bank where he gave them to the bank teller in exchange for money, then we went to the toy store to pick out a new toy
. We let him take the lead here as he carried his pacifiers into the bank, handed them to the confused teller (as we quickly whispered what we were trying to do), and then let him hold the money as we drove to the toy store to pick out his new toy. And the best part is he only asked for his binky once
after this, but he was easily soothed and distracted by his new toy
. I think one of the keys to success when you're weaning your child from his pacifier, is to constantly encourage and praise him. We heaped
praise on him, took pictures of the entire process, and stayed happy and positive. And it worked! Anytime he was sad, he would proudly tell us that he's a big boy and we could see the pride on his happy little face! In addition to finding the best method for your family, I also think it's really
important to choose the right time. We had always planned to take our son's pacifier away by the time he turned two, but his second birthday was only one month before our angel baby's birth
. The months leading up to and after her birth were (as you'd imagine) very emotional for our little family. So we talked to our pediatrician, who encouraged us to wait until after our daughter's birth so that we could face this transition after our life (and emotions) had calmed down a little bit. Our dentist also agreed with our pediatrician, explaining that some kids just transition to sucking their thumbs if you take their pacifier away before they're ready, which is a much harder habit to break.
As you prepare to say bye-bye to your child's binky, I think the most important thing is to do what works best for you and for your child. Talk to your pediatrician and dentist, research different methods (the ones I listed above are just a few of my favorites), then choose the time and the method that works best for your situation!