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Bye-Bye Binky: Weaning from the pacifier

Weaning from the pacifier
Weaning from the pacifier
Photo: Viscount family photo
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Weaning from anything: breast to bottle, breastmilk to cow's milk, bottle to cup is never easy. But weaning your child off their beloved binky (or binkies, as was my daughter's case) may well seem like the most impossible task. As a stay-at-home mom the job is likely on your to-do list...and yours alone.

Perhaps the biggest factor in weaning from the pacifier ("nuk," "buba," "paci" or whatever name your toddler has come to call it) is to find the right timing. Timing won't be the same for every child, which is why you still see four and five year olds plugged up.

A well-respected Baltimore County pediatrician, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says parents concerned about the impact of a binky on their child's teeth don't really need to start worrying until around two years old. By this point, a toddler has also long lost his need to suck and only uses the binky now as a comfort measure.  For those reasons, and because of a child's increased ability to understand, between 18 months and two years is often considered the best age to begin the weaning process.

Start by gradually limiting the binky throughtout the day. If your child uses it throughout the day limit binky-use to while you're at home.  When your child seems comfortable with this stage, cut back to only allowing your child to have the binky while sleeping.  

The three most common ways suggested to say "bye bye binky" are cutting the binky tip, introducing the Binky Fairy, and giving away your child's binkies to little babies who need them.  What you should avoid is having binky there one day and gone the next.  A child who is attached to their binky, just like a stuffed animal or special blanket, could be traumatized (and will have a lot more tears) by not knowing what happened to their binky.  It is much better to give your child control of the situation or at least knowledge of where their beloved binky is going.

The pediatrician I spoke with highly discouraged cutting a pacifier, contending the cut material poses a chocking hazard to the child who may bite on the cut tip. That being said many parents have found success with this method.  The Binky Fairy method requires a few weeks preparation to get your child on-board with the storyline in which the Binky Fairy takes away the binkies in the middle of the night.  The binky giveaway method puts complete control in your child's hands (at least that's what they think)!  Tell your child they are now a big boy or big girl and they need to give their binkies to a new baby who needs them.  Talk about what it means to be a big girl, you may even offer to exchange the binky for a new big girl toy, although it's not necessary. Then have your child, not you, hand their binkies to the pediatrician to be passed on to younger babies.

On a personal note, I went for the binky giveaway. Since I did not have a pediatrician appointment in the near future, I took my daughter to a public trash can and told her it was a collection site for baby items. She happily threw all four of her binkies in and even waved "bye bye binky." She never asked for them again, although she seemed obviously sad, and even shed a few tears, the first few times I put her to sleep without them.

Tip: To prevent tempting yourself, do not hide the binkies in your home or even throw them out in a trashcan in your house. You'll be too tempted to pull them out and wash them off after 30 minutes of tears.

Share your binky weaning experience by leaving a comment below.

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