Bye bye binky. Or nuk. Or nunu. Or paci. Or dummy. Or whatever you call that piece of plastic paradise that keeps baby silent and content. Chances are you’ve given your baby a pacifier as a way to calm him or her down. And chances are said baby has grown attached to the pacifier over time. And chances are you want them to give up the habit before, say, they go to college. Or maybe even just kindergarten. Ah, but how do you break the habit? This is a tough situation for all involved.
Fortunately I have some possible solutions for you. Although my husband and I didn’t give our son a pacifier, except a few times in the early days, I have come across several methods for your little one to become a paci-free baby/toddler/young adult.
Method #1: Binky is Cash
When you are at a store, let the child pick out a small toy that they will “purchase” with the binky. After the cashier rings up the toy, have your child hand their binky over to the cashier to “pay” for the toy (while you actually pay for the purchase, of course). Hopefully, the cashier can figure out what you are doing and will play along and accept the binky as “payment”, before they covertly toss it in the trash.
Method #2: Cold Turkey
I don’t know if this method needs a lot of explaining. One day there is no more binky and the child must deal with it. Ouch. Expect a lot of crying with this method. Distraction may work. Try incorporating some of the other methods listed here as diversionary tactics. Maybe replace it with a toy or item for a “big boy/girl”.
Method #3: Where did it go?
Hide the pacifier where the child can’t find it. When they ask about it, help them search. Sometimes you find it, sometimes you don’t. The child may give it up if it remains “lost”.
Method #4: Binky Fairy
Have the child place the pacifier under their pillow at night for the Binky Fairy. Maybe explain that the Binky Fairy needs pacifiers for babies who don’t have them. Leave a small gift (book, toy, game, etc) for the child from the Binky Fairy.
Method #5: Prepare the Child for the Big Day
Choose a special day, such as their birthday, for the child to give up their pacifier. Prepare your child for this day. Talk about what will happen months, weeks, and days ahead of time. Explain that pacifiers are used by babies and one isn’t needed now that they are older. Maybe use method #4 or #9 on the night of their birthday.
Method #6: Gradual Weaning
Try reducing pacifier use to sleeping times (nap and night) only; not while you are out and about. Then gradually work towards sleeping without it by using it only at night. When the child falls asleep, remove it from his/her mouth. Then start soothing the child to sleep without the pacifier.
This method might be a good method to try with babies.
Method #7: Read a Book
No, not just any book. There are actually several children’s books on this topic:
- The Binky Ba-ba Fairy, by Heather Knickerbocker-Silva. The book tells a tale about a fairy who gives pacifiers to other babies who need them.
- Bye-Bye Binky, by Brigitte Weninger. The book is a story of how a girl loses her binky and then different animals find it and put it to different uses. When the girl finally finds it again, she realizes she doesn’t need it anymore.
- Pacifiers Are Not Forever, by Elizabeth Verdick
- No More Pacifier: Change is Strange, by Asher Penny. This is a story about a boy who puts his binky in a binky box during the day. It feels strange at first, but then he learns to do without his binky.
Method #8: Let the Child Give it Up
If the child is part of the decision, he or she may be more willing to give up the pacifier. After getting your child to agree to give up the pacifier, have the child throw it in the garbage. When the child asks for it later, remind him that he has thrown it away. Or instead of simply throwing it away, this method could be combined with method #9 below.
Method #9: Have a Goodbye Ceremony
Maybe combining with method #5 or #8, you can have a “saying goodbye” ceremony. Tell him that he is too old for the pacifier and make a ceremony of throwing it away. You could make a special box for it (think: decorated empty checkbook box). Have the child place it in the box and throw it away. There could be music. Maybe have the child say a few words to help them verbalize their feelings and why they are doing this.
Method #10: Poke a Hole
Poke a tiny pinhole in the pacifier so it doesn’t give the child resistance when he or she tries to suck it. They still have the security of having their pacifier but when it fails to serve its purpose, hopefully the child will tire of it and not care if he has it or not.
Try one or more of these methods with your child to help ease the transition to a paci-free child. It may not be easy; a lot will depend on the child. Whichever methods you choose, remember to be patient and offer lots of reassurance and hugs. Good luck!
Wendy – Parenting Tips 365