There are many benefits to a child having a binky at a young age. It aids in self-soothing and studies have shown that using a pacifier for infants can lower the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) by almost fifty percent. After a child turns two, however, the negative effects of a pacifier start to outweigh the benefits. Aside from the issue of a child developing a dependency on their pacifier, using one above a certain age can cause children to begin to develop problems with their teeth at a time when their teeth are really starting to grow. If you are caring for a child who needs to say “Bye, bye!” to their pacifier, here are some ideas to try to help the process along.
1.) Pacifier Weaning System. Years ago, parents and caregivers may have tried weaning their children off of the pacifier by cutting it down until there was nothing left beyond the tip. While this may have seemed effective, it has also proven to be dangerous, as pieces of the rubber could break off and the child could choke. It was a potential hazard. A better method is using the weaning system developed by One Step Ahead, a leading company that researches, compares and tests existing products for children in addition to creating their own products. One Step Ahead developed a great Pacifier Weaning System for use with children from 6 months and older. The kit is $19.95 and it includes 5 pacifiers that look identical, but each tip is smaller than the next. You can change stages at your own pace, leading up to the final pacifier with a nearly non-existent nipple. The product was designed in the hopes that by the time you reach the 5th stage, the child will have lost interest in the pacifier, as it will no longer provide them with the soothing ability to suck on it.
2.) Read stories about pacifiers. Prepare your charge for life without their pacifier by reading them books about characters who are doing the same. A few great books that I recommend are:
- Goodbye Binky: The Binky Fairy Story by Sinead A. Condon
- No More Pacifiers by Melanie O’Brien
- No More Pacifier for Piggy by Bernette Ford
- Pacifiers Are Not Forever by Elizabeth Verdick
- Bea Gives Up Her Pacifier by Jenny Album
3.) Minimize use, and practice other soothing techniques. If your charge uses their pacifier for most of the day, begin the weaning process by cutting back on the times of day when they are able to have it. Begin by only letting them use it at nap and bedtime. If they only get it when they are asleep already, then try to cut back to only using it for one nap or only at bedtime. It is likely that you will need something else to soothe them. It’s not unreasonable to transition them to a blanket or a favorite stuffed animal or toy that they love and has the ability to calm them. Music and singing may be a good soothing technique as well. Anything that can offer the child a pleasant distraction from the fact that they do not have their binky is worth a try. This is the hardest part and it most likely will not happen overnight. Just stay patient and consistent and, in a few days, the child will start to become accustomed to NOT having the binky all the time and will likely become less upset by the loss.
4.) Offer a trade. This can go hand in hand with reading books to your child about saying goodbye to their pacifier. A lot of the books will talk about growing up and becoming a big kid with no more need for a pacifier. Ease the transition with a trade in from pacifier to a big kid toy or item. Take them to the store, and let them pick it out. The more you involve the child in the process the easier it will be for them to let go, almost like it was their own decision. Of course, this all depends on the child’s age. If you start to wean a child off of the pacifier before the age of 2, they may not have an understanding of the situation. If that is the case, you can pick a trade-in item for them. Again, something soothing that will help to ease the transition.
5.) Give away. If your charge is old enough to understand, you can try having them “give away” their pacifier to a new baby in their life. I have also heard mention of the Binky Fairy, who, much like the Tooth Fairy, will come take your old binky from under your pillow in the middle of the night (there is also a book to go along with it. See Suggestion #2!). Another person to give it away to, which my own parents did with me, is the trash man. He needs those binkies to recycle to make more binkies for new babies! Based on your charge’s understanding and personality, this could be an easy option for you to try, and there are many variations of who they can give their binky away to. Pick what works best for your charge and stick to it.
Any new and big transitions in a young child’s life is most likely not going to be an easy one. It’s important to remain consistent and work with your charge’s parents on the best technique(s) to try. Remember that they may need alternate things to be soothed by, and be sensitive to that. Once you get past the first few days or week, your charge will start to acclimate to the transition. Hang in there, and remember that it’s for their own good in the long run!
Amanda Dunyak attended Kean University for English Education with a minor in music, her other passion. Currently, she is a nanny working and residing on the New Jersey Shore. She has been a babysitter, nanny, and household manager for well over 20 different families throughout her career. She was also an instructional aide with special needs children, a teacher’s assistant, and a preschool teacher over the past 19 years, so childcare is in her blood. She is the owner and operator of Nanny Extraordinaire Child Care Services, LLC where she helps match up nannies and parents based on similar beliefs and personalities, helps with the interview and hiring process and sets nannies up for training to help them deal with the many situations they will face. She also has a blog for nannies called Diary of a Super Nanny and is a writer and Street Team Leader for Nanny Magazine. View Amanda’s posts here.