My newborn loves her binky. It’s the cutest thing ever watching her use it, and it’s the nicest thing ever when she needs something to soothe her and I can just pop it in her mouth. My oldest didn’t take a binky so I have some questions about how you take it away when it’s time. How do you know when it’s time? I don’t want my child going to kindergarten with a binky in her mouth. Here are five tips I've learned:
Be Thoughtful About Your Timing
A lot of what I read says it is easiest/best to wean between 6-7 months old, which seems soon to me. I mean, my baby just got the hang of the binky. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry suggests weaning your babe off between 2-4 years. So basically, you should do it sometime between 6 months and 4 years. Do not decide to start weaning them off of their pacifier when other big changes are happening in their life (same goes with potty training). For example, don’t decide to move and take away their binky at the same time. And don’t say, “Good luck at daycare! Also, no more binky.” Choose a time when there will be the most consistency for the longest period of time.
Have a Farewell Ceremony
I thought this idea was so cute when my sister-in-law did it. You can take you child to build-a-bear and stuff the binky inside so every time they hug it, it’s comforting them, like their binky did. You could also have them “buy” a new toy with their pacifier. They could leave it for “the binky fairy” or plant it with a special plant in the yard. Whatever you do, make a big deal of it and celebrate.
Swap the Binky
Maybe instead of always reaching for their binky when you need to calm them down or comfort them, reach for a stuffed animal or blanket. Try breathing exercises or activities to take their mind off of the stressful situation and the fact that they don’t have their binky to console them.
Make sure to always praise your child when they are doing well without their pacifier. Let them know how grown up they are being and how proud you are of them. Never punish your child when they are using their binky or any other sort of negative reinforcement. That could set the process back and create fear and anxiety for the child.
Set Time Limits
You can quite literally wean your baby off of their pacifier by setting certain times of day for them to have it, such as during screen time, morning time, when you are home, or when you are in the car. Usually bedtime is the hardest time to wean, but it could also be best for their sleep since babies often wake up when their binky falls out if they're conditioned to sleeping with it.
Quit Cold Turkey
This could be an effective way for some children. If their pacifier is out of sight, it’s out of mind. It could be “forgotten” somewhere. Or you can use their birthday as a milestone to let them know they are a big kid and don’t need it anymore. For other children, cold turkey could create too much anxiety. Know your child and gauge what route will be best for them.
What Not to Do
Do not pierce or cut the binky to make it harder for them to suck on. This could create a choking hazard.
Remember that your child's binky has always been their security item, and they have never done life without it before. Be patient with them and yourself as you work to wean them off it. Most importantly, try not to get too weepy when they finally don’t need their binky anymore.
For more tips on parenting go to babycubby.com.