By Rachel Hoeing
When is the right time to put your child through pacifier detox? And how do you do it? As we all know, every child is different. Some children never take a pacifier. It could be because they were never offered one by Mom & Dad or because they just didn’t want it. Some kids and babies prefer to suck on their thumbs or fingers, and some don’t need anything at all. I had one of each – my son took a pacifier before we even left the hospital. My daughter wanted nothing to do with it, but never sucked her thumb either.
Some parents are against pacifiers while others have them on their baby registry before their little one even arrives! Some parents think they are OK for just a while, and others are saying, “Why can’t they just have their binky as long as they want?” The American Academy of Pediatrics does say pacifiers are OK throughout baby’s first year. They may soothe fussy babies, help them go to sleep, and research has shown that they may help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The cons of using a pacifier are that early pacifier use may interfere with breast-feeding. They are also found to be responsible for 25% of ear infections in children under age 3, and your child may become dependent on the pacifier.
I did a little research online and found that one of the main reasons children should stop pacifier use after their first few years is to prevent dental problems. It has not yet been proven, but I also read that there are studies being done to find out if pacifiers can affect speech and language delays. According to the Mayo Clinic, most children stop using the pacifier between ages 2 and 4.
I did do one thing that I think was a huge plus in my son’s situation. He had a pacifier in his mouth quite a bit when he was a baby, but I made sure to take it out as often as possible when he was happy without it. As he grew, it made it very easy for us to keep the rule of pacifiers in the crib only. He had them for naps and nighttime, and that was it. The benefit of this is that #1 – you are not constantly hunting down a pacifier when you are around the house or out in public. #2 – pacifiers don’t get left in random places, which leaves you stuck with nothing when your baby wants it. #3 – the pacifiers are not being thrown around and dropped in nasty places such as public floors and outdoor areas. #4 – It is much easier to wean them from it later on.
When we thought it was a good time to do so, my husband and I decided to go “cold turkey” and took the pacifiers away completely. (It seems so mean, I know!) We told our son about the new babies being born in the hospital and how they needed the pacifiers now. He was getting too big and needed to pass them on. Of course he did not agree with this concept entirely, but was somewhat open to it. We prepared him a few days before the big pacifier drop off, and kept reminding him that soon we’d be taking the pacifiers to the new babies. When the day arrived, we drove to the hospital with a Ziploc bag of all his pacifiers in hand. We went up to the floor with the baby nursery and showed our son all the new babies crying in their little beds. When a nurse walked by, our son gave her the Ziploc bag and we explained to her that he was leaving the pacifiers for all the new babies since he was now a big boy. (I am sure that the nurse thought we were crazy and wondered if we seriously thought that she was going to give our nasty used pacifiers to the new babies, but that was beside the point!) We walked out of the hospital hand-in-hand, and our little boy was so proud of himself. We then went to the toy store and found a stuffed animal that would replace the need for his pacifier comfort that night.
According to Dr. Ann Corwin, parents should teach the time and place for your kids to comfort themselves instead of taking comfort away entirely. The objects that kids cling to have nothing to do with the object itself. For this reason, it is important to have something for children to soothe themselves with once the pacifier is gone. And don’t worry – they will give that up eventually, too!
Now I know what you are thinking – what happened that night? I will not lie, ladies and gentleman. It was absolute torture. Our poor little boy had a really tough time trying to put himself to sleep. But, the next night got a little better, and by the third night, he went right to sleep without any trouble, and went back to being a great sleeper in no time. You might wonder if we kept at least one pacifier in case of an emergency. Nope. If we gave in, it would defeat the purpose of everything we were trying to accomplish.
In the end, I was really happy with the method we used. I think it taught our son a little bit about giving to others, it also helped him to feel very grown up, and he honestly forgot all about the pacifiers within a week.
Another idea is to use a Pacifier Fairy who comes along and collects all the pacifiers and leaves the child with something else in return. Or you can always do the little-by-little method and give the pacifier to your child less and less frequently. This could possibly take forever though.
And if you are lucky enough, you may even have one of those children who throws it away himself when he’s two years old!
What worked for you? Share your tips and methods below. We’d love to hear from you!