Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Binky Dilemma

My almost 17-month-old is a crack addict.

OK, I exaggerate, but her pacifier, aka "Mr. Binky," is her personal crack. And it's not even the age-appropriate, orthodontic-approved pacifiers. It's the First Years green newborn pacifier they give you in the hospital when they are born. Yikes.

She has always been a "binky baby." As she grows older, I'm finding it is actually getting worse. She wants it constantly now. I was trying to only allow it in the car and for naptime and at night for sleep. But she gets so distraught that I, who always thought of myself as the tough cop mom who goes by the book, allow her to have it more than I should.

My child does fine on car rides. She does fine in restaurants. She does fine in the grocery store/Target/mall. She does fine for one reason: she has the binky. No tantrums, no screaming. She also goes to bed at 7:30 pm and sleeps until at least 7 am the next day, if not longer, w/o waking up. So is this really just benefitting ME? Am I being too lazy, not wanting to sacrifice her good behavior? Can you believe I sit here on a daily basis and have anxiety attacks over this? I do.

I logged onto Of course I found the appropriate question (you can find everything on there!):

How do I wean my baby from her pacifier?

There were many responses, both in support of the pacifier and of course the inevitable "you are a lazy, horrible parent if you don't wean by age 1." Here was my favorite response (any spelling or grammatical errors are not mine!):

READ THIS IF YOU HAVE ANY SYMPATHY FOR YOUR BABY: Many of you say that when you see a toddler with a pacifier in her mouth, you wonder what the parent is doing wrong. I think one of you even said that you wondered if the parent was neglecting her child! It's judgments like these that make me nervous when my 19-month-old asks for her "binky" in public. I am a really good mom, and my daughter is one of the happiest, sweetest, verbally and physically advanced kids I know. But since she was born she has gotten tremendous comfort from having her pacifier in her mouth just prior to naps and bedtime. Occasionally, when we're out in public just before one of her naps, she'll ask for it. Sometimes, if the nap is really overdue, I'll give it to her, and she usually falls asleep shortly afterward. But most days we follow a nice daily schedule that includes nap and beedtime rituals involving storytime, teeth-brushing and snuggle time. My daughter brings her binky into her crib with her and, after a couple minutes of sucking, falls fast asleep. Since she was six months old, I have wrestled with the idea of taking her binky away, and I even made half-attempts on several occasions, only to witness my daughter getting very upset. My pediatrician says it's perfectly acceptable to allow the binky as part of her bedtime ritual until she is 2 or 3. I think when I break it down, my only reason for wanting her to stop using it is the public stigma, as evidenced by the many comments posted on this board. But eventually I came to the conclusion that the pacifier wasn't hurting my little girl one bit. She is a well-adjusted, remarkably happy child, and if the pacifier gives her a little extra comfort at bedtime, than so be it. After all, we grown-ups have our own bedtime comfort rituals, whether it's a cup of tea or reading a few pages of a book or watching a little junk TV before falling asleep. I think ultimately we have to ask ourselves, what is the motivation for taking the binky away? Is it peer pressure, or is there some deeper reason? And we also have to ask why on earth are we being so hard on our kids before they're even pre-schoolers. God knows our society makes them grow up faster than they should in every other way -- so why deprive them of something so innocent and inconsequential as a binky?

heehee..of course I like that response because it basically supports what I'm feeling and alleviates any guilt. I do know hands down that she'll be weaned by her 2nd birthday (my wonderful, awesome pediatrician says it's OK until that age, and I go by anything he says!). But should I maybe try to do it before then? Or maybe I can try to cut back to only the car and only for sleep again. I can't believe I stress so much over this stuff. I do recall my pediatrician saying if I take it away too soon, she'll resort to sucking her thumb, which is actually worse for jaw and tooth development/alignment.

OK, back to the original plan. Weaning at age 2. Thanks for staying patient with me on my latest parenting dilemma.


LoveLladro said...

I just read this in Parents magazine... "We couldn't get our 2 year old son, Cole, to give up his pacifier, so I came up with the idea of growing the paci tree. We dug a hole, and Cole 'planted' his pacifiers. Then we threw in a few seeds to bloom in their place. He hasn't asked for a paci since!" Catherine Heckel. Goose Creek, SC.

Although Chase isn't as attached, we are going to have a rough time too! We will just have to be creative like this woman!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

This sounds so touch. It is hard to change things around a baby/toddler. I find it harder and harder everyday.

Jen said...

This is a rough one. I took our oldest's paci away shortly after she turned 3, and she started sucking her thumb. Still does -- she's 6.5.

My twin boys are 4 and still have theirs. I have considered taking them away MANY times, but I feel so bad doing it! And like your quote said, the only reason I'm doing it is because of what other people think. Their dentist said it's better to let them have that comfort, and that the pacifier is better than having them go to sucking their thumbs.

My 2-year-old still has her pacifier whenever she wants it. (Boys only have theirs for sleep.)

I just can't get too worked up about them having pacifiers, anymore. Good luck!