Ahhhh, the pacifier. Or binky, paci, binkus, or as my older boys refer to their baby brother’s, the pinky. Just deciding to use a pacifier (and then, which model) can be a big decision for new parents, but giving your baby a pacifier means, more than likely, someday you will also have to take it away.
Why take it away? Well, use of a pacifier beyond age one can potentially delay speech or alter pronunciation (and even cause a lisp), according to some speech pathologists. Use beyond age two can cause changes to the slant of your child’s teeth, and beyond age four (when adult teeth start coming in) can lead to permanent changes.
Whenever you decide to take away your child’s pacifier, you may want to delay it if you have a big trip (particularly if you’re flying, as pacis can help children with pressure changes on takeoff and landing) coming up or other big life changes, like moving houses.
And if you’re lucky, your child may be like my middle son, who was never particularly attached to his, and gave it up on his own by the time he was 9 months old. Or you may be unlucky, like I am currently, with a baby that is dead serious on keeping the binky habit going strong. I’m pretty sure in his mind he will be packing it off to college with him.
Ways to drop the binky habit
The most obvious way to say bye-bye to the bink is to go cold turkey. Some parents of older children will invent things like binky fairies or have a send-off for all of the pacifiers. For some, particularly if your child is an infant still, they may just disappear. No matter though, the pacifiers will disappear (which means doing a check of the car, under couch cushions and anywhere else rogue binkies may hide.)
If you aren’t ready for a potentially rough couple of days for a cold turkey send-off, you can try to wean your child from them gradually. First, limit pacifier use to just naps and bed, then just bedtime, and then finally altogether.
If your child is having a rough time saying goodbye when you’re weaning, you could try dipping the pacifier in lemon juice, vinegar, or something equally yucky tasting to your child. Some people cut the end off so the sucking enjoyment is curtailed (this could potentially cause a choking hazard if any pieces come loose and shouldn’t be given unsupervised).
And finally, make sure everyone is in the know about the current binky policies. Siblings and caretakers should all know if you’re child is no longer being given a pacifier.
Meaghan Howard is a mom to three boys; she and her family are currently enjoying life in Japan. You can find more of her writing on her beauty blog, www.meaghanrae.com.