Pacifiers are a lifesaver for moms ... right up until the day you decide you want to wean your child off their beloved binky. Sure, there are the moms who swear their kids just went cold turkey. But they seem like the mystical Bigfoot -- you hear about them, but you never actually see them.
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So how do you get your tot to give up the pacifier? The experts say binkies should be taken away well before adult teeth begin to come in to prevent any lifelong damage to their alignment.
And fortunately, they have some ideas to help!
1. Do take it slowly. "Don't try to go cold turkey," warns Dr. Priti Naik, pediatric dentist from Vienna, Virginia. Instead she suggests reducing and limiting pacifier use gradually to "successively shorter or specific times." For example, you can cut out pacifier use during the day, allowing your tot to keep the soother at night, then cut naptime use, then bedtime.
2. Don't damage the pacifier. Dr. Naik has seen parents cut the nipple to make sucking unpleasant, but she doesn't suggest it as this can present a choking hazard.
3. Do find a way for them to "keep" their pacifier without sucking on it. Dr. David Zirlin of White Plains Pediatric Dentistry told a patient who was going to Build-A-Bear to put the last pacifier in the bear before it was sewn up as a way for the child to hang on to it.
4. Don't be afraid to set down limits. "As a parent, you are able to control the time or access to the pacifier," Dr. Naik reminds patients. "While the child may become upset, ultimately, it's the parents that can control access to the pacifiers."
5. Do talk to your child. Parents' encouragement can work wonders, Dr. Zirlin says. "Discuss it with the child," he suggests. "Tell them why you want them to quit and plan a strategy ... together."
6. Don't be afraid to get creative. Binky fairy coming to take them away to give to babies who need them? Planting a binky tree? These "tricks" can get kids on board, and there's nothing wrong with that.
7. Do reward your kids. Giving up a pacifier is a big step for little ones, and Dr. Zirlin suggests acknowledging that. He suggests a reward chart -- putting stickers on a chart or calendar for going without the pacifier, or outright trading pacifiers for toys.
Have your kids given up their pacifiers yet? How did you wean them from the binky?
Images via Kristian Mollenborg/Flickr; © iStock.com/matka_Wariatka