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Saying Goodbye to the Pacifier There are many conundrums we face on our parenting journey, but perhaps one of the earliest and most perplexing might be about the pacifier. Everyone has an opinion on it—whether you should or shouldn’t introduce a pacifier and when and how to take it away. For parents fretting over using a pacifier, rest assured, experts agree that it is an entirely appropriate method for soothing your baby. As for when it’s best to retire our “binky” friend, there are many routes you can take. Here is a bit of info to help you make the best choice for you and your child. In some studies, pacifier use has been linked to a 3 times higher risk of ear infections. So if your child is prone to ear infections, it might be best to ditch the pacifier right away. Other than pressing medical reasons, however, there is no hard and fast rule for stopping pacifier use. The general rule of thumb is to begin phasing pacifiers out around the age of 2, when children begin to develop higher level strategies of managing stress, and have it completely gone by the age of 4. Continued pacifier use beyond the age of 4 can lead to dental issues, such as an overbite, cross bite, or open bite. These problems can affect your child’s appearance and their ability to chew and speak, and often require orthodontics to correct. But it’s worth noting that not all children who are still using pacifiers over the age of 4 will develop these problems. It’s more about the frequency and intensity of the sucking habit. There are many ways parents can get rid of the pacifier. Some find that the early approach, where they take the pacifier away between 3 to 6 months, works well. At such a young age, kids are less likely to make a habit of the pacifier, and they may not necessarily be aware that they’re losing anything at all. This saves parents from having to fight with their children about it or come up with an explanation. Other parents find that giving their kids a three-day countdown works well. Like adults, kids like a bit of warning so that they can anticipate big changes. On day one, tell them that it’s time to graduate to big kid things, which means saying goodbye to binky. Make sure you’re matter-of-fact about it and that you don’t sound like you’re asking for permission. If they protest, acknowledge their feelings, but stay firm. On day two, remind them in the morning and at bedtime the same way you did on day one. Then, on day three, start gathering up all of the pacifiers. It might be easier on your kids if you tell them that you’re giving all of the pacifiers to the “binky fairy,” the tooth fairy’s cousin, and give them a big kid gift the next day as a reward. Kids also respond better if they feel like they’re being helpful, such as if you tell them their pacifiers are being given to babies who need them more. If ditching the pacifier doesn’t seem like a pressing need or if your child is especially resistant to change, you can take a more gradual approach. Instead of offering an explanation, simply remove the pacifiers one at a time during “zero stress” situations, like when your child is at home, happy, and playing. Start with all the pacifiers in the house and, once your child is used to not having them at home, start limiting outdoor use too. You could also simply let your child lead the way and wait for them to naturally stop using the pacifier themselves. Regardless of what method you use, be prepared for 1 to 5 days of meltdowns or demands for their binky. No matter how much of a fuss they make, it’s important to hold your ground. Giving in will teach them that they can get anything they want as long as they fuss loud and long enough. Instead, try distracting them with playing a fun game, going outside, or doing something they love. Transitional objects, such as a stuffed animal or a toy, can help. Just be sure that you pay attention to your child and know the things that trigger them before you decide to say goodbye to the pacifier for good. Some children are more nervous and sensitive than others. Forcing them to give the pacifier up before they’re ready may result in them latching onto another comforting mechanism, like thumb sucking or a blanket, or more destructive habits like nail biting. If you have a firm grasp on your child’s natural temperament, you’ll have a better idea of whether gradual or a direct approach is best. Sources: Lamb, Marguerite, “Bye-Bye Binky: Ending the Pacifier Habit”, Parents.com, https://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/development/behavioral/bye-bye-binky-ending-the-pacifier-habit/ Sears, Dr. William, “Ask Dr. Sears: Weaning Off Pacifier”, Parenting, https://www.parenting. com/article/ask-dr-sears-weaning-off-pacifier-21354759 Article Brought To You By: Estrella Family Services • Go Kids, Inc 855 Moro Drive • Gilroy • gokids.org • GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2018 gmhtoday.com 25 Saying Goodbye to the Pacifier T AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2018 Sources: Lamb, Marguerite, “Bye-Bye Binky: Ending the Pacifier Habit”, Parents.com, https://www.par- ents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/development/be- havioral/bye-bye-binky-ending-the-pacifier-habit/ Sears, Dr. William, “Ask Dr. Sears: Weaning Off Pacifier”, Parenting, https://www.parenting. com/article/ask-dr-sears-weaning-off-pacifi- er-21354759 d o Ki s, I G Fa Article Brought To You By: GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN in will teach them that they can get any- thing they want as long as they fuss loud and long enough. Instead, try distracting them with playing a fun game, going outside, or doing something they love. Transitional objects, such as a stuffed animal or a toy, can help. Just be sure that you pay attention to your child and know the things that trigger them before you decide to say goodbye to the paci- fier for good. Some children are more nervous and sensitive than others. Forcing them to give the pacifier up before they’re ready may result in them latching onto another comforting mechanism, like thumb sucking or a blanket, or more destructive habits like nail biting. If you have a firm grasp on your child’s natural temperament, you’ll have a better idea of whether gradual or a direct approach is best. pacifier, and they may not necessarily be aware that they’re losing anything at all. This saves parents from having to fight with their children about it or come up with an explanation. 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