The pacifier, the binky, the mouth plug, the whatever you call it…
As parents we love them and hate them.
We love how they calm our babies down and gets them to stop crying.
We hate how dependent they become to them, how they look blocking that cute little smile, and how it can be a nightmare to wean the baby off them.
We, as parents, can also become addicted to the pacifier. It is a quick, easy, fail safe way to sooth an upset child.
Some parents are totally opposed to them, some insist their children have one, while some just let the infant decided.
The American Academy of Pediatrics have concluded that pacifiers, among other steps, might help to reduce the instances in SIDS for babies who are more vulnerable to it. They recommend introducing it only after the first month if baby is breast-feeding and for no longer then 12 months. They also say not to force your child to take one; my nephew would have nothing to do with one.
When I was pregnant with Ian, I had decided I would not force the issue one way or the other.
Ian was four weeks early and had a hard time nursing. He wouldn’t/couldn’t latch on. But he wanted to suckle on something so I had asked one nurse for a pacifier. She flat-out refused me. She told me it would only make things worse for him and eating. (She was also not very nice about our issues breast-feeding) So I waited until shift change and asked the new nurse.
For about a week I had to pump and then feed Ian with a syringe, tube and a finger in his mouth. This is not really doable with one person. So instead of a finger I would have him suck on his pacifier, while I plunged the syringe releasing milk in his mouth. It was these two actions together that helped him figure out how to suckle to get milk.
However, Ian became increasingly dependent on the pacifier to calm him and to help him to sleep.
I became more dependent on it so he wouldn’t cry in public.
I figured I would wean him off the pacifier around two-years old. But we had a lot of new things happening to him, we made a trip out to the east coast, he was getting a sibling, his dad was working out-of-town, he was changing to a toddler bed and getting potty trained. So I figured I could let him keep his binky.
I decided to wait till he turned three. I am not sure why we are dependent on some kind of mile-stone to in order to make this type of change. But that was the one I chose.
When he was approaching his third birthday we discussed what would be different about this age. One of the things I told him was that he wouldn’t get his binky anymore. I should note that after the age of two I didn’t really let him have it unless it involved sleeping or sickness.
I decided that we would go to Build a Bear and he could pick out a stuffed animal. He would then have to say good-bye to the binky and place it in the stuffed animal. That way he would always have it, just not in his mouth.
Shortly after his birthday we were going to the mall for Easter Bunny pictures and he decided that he was ready to trade his binky for a stuffed animal.
He decided on a penguin, he loves penguins, from the movie Happy Feet. It has a bow tie on that lights up.
The employee had him give his binky a kiss, say good-bye to it and place it the penguin.
It was great that she had him put it there, so it didn’t appear to him that she was taking it away.
He went to sleep the first night without any issues, but he wanted his binky when he woke up. He was pretty upset when he couldn’t get it out of the penguin. When he was more awake, he didn’t find it quite so upsetting.
I would give him his penguin and explain again how his binky is inside it, because he was a big boy and didn’t need it in his mouth anymore.
He has only asked for it a couple of times since. I thought it would be an issue because his brother now uses one, but he understands that Baby Sid is a baby and that is why he gets one. Although, Ian does like to take it away from Baby Sid when he wakes up. Ian says “Baby Sid not need dis, he awake now” and then puts it in the baby crib.
I have decided that I will take away Sid’s around his first birthday. By that time he no longer needs it to learn to suckle and needs to learn to sooth himself with out it. Plus I feel he is too young to put up a protest about it.
I also think it will be easier on Sid because he doesn’t really depend on it like Ian did. In fact when he was younger he didn’t really like it. I am also trying to limit the amount of time he has it.
There is a book written by Melissa Burnett called The Paci Fairy. It is a story book designed to help wean your child off the pacifier with some tips to help you. On her website you can download a form for your child to write a letter to the Paci Fairy. I have not read this book, but I do know someone who has used it.
Whatever your feelings are about the pacifier, make the choices that are right for you and your family.