by: Kim Proulx
Being a parent is hard work, but it’s the most rewarding job there is. The baby years can be a challenge, but the joy the little one brings is worth it. Unfortunately, newborns don’t come with a parenting guide so you just have to give it your best shot. One of the first challenges is ending your baby’s undying lover for the pacifier.
We all try to be good at parenting. We do our research. The problem is there is no clear direction coming from the experts regarding parenting with regards to baby pacifiers. Infants are expected to use pacifiers. First-graders are not. But when and how do we get from Point A to Point B?
Much research indicates the baby pacifier is best removed sooner than later. If not, the child may not begin the babbling needed for the beginnings of speech. And there are experts who believe prolonged use of the pacifier will alter the mouth, causing teeth to be misaligned, though there are others who say that isn’t so. And certainly no parent wants to be awoken in the middle of the night by a screaming child who has lost the darn thing while asleep.
But how exactly does one remove the baby pacifier? Here are some courses of action to consider.
The first is to go cold turkey. Just take the pacifier away because you are the Big Person. Believe it or not, this can work. When my child was young I read somewhere that if you didn’t take it away by four months, it would be around for four years. Since she was 4 months at the time, I yanked it. She didn’t seem to notice. It worked for me…give it a shot.
Another way is to wean them off the pacifier. Tell your child the pacifier lives in the crib now. He or she may have it anytime they want, providing they stay in their crib. Pretty soon the pacifier in the crib seems pretty dull stuff compared to the Big World Outside the Crib. Later on, tell them it’s only for nights. Then it’s only on weekends. Then it’s gone. Some parents I know swear by this technique.
How about this? Poke a hole in it or cut the tip off. The suction action stops and the child loses interest in it. They still have the physical pacifier for awhile, but since they stop deriving satisfaction from it, they eventually let it go by the wayside.
Here’s a remake of the classic Tooth Fairy tale. Tell your little one there’s a Pacifier Fairy who comes in the night to take the pacifiers from bigger kids to give them to the new babies. She rewards the big kid for his or her generosity with a special gift. Wrap up the pacifier in a pretty package with your child, and leave it by the bed. Upon awakening, make sure there’s something fun in its place.
If you’re lucky enough to be making this transition near a holiday, you can always use Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny or the Great Pumpkin or a Leprechaun or…well, you get the idea. Use a variation on the above Pacifier Story. The basic concept is that you warn them it is going, give them some time to process that information, it goes away as explained and they get a tangible reward in return.
Above all, relax. Parenting through the pacifier years is just a blip on the radar screen of life. Cut yourself some slack, kiss your baby and try not to worry. Your child will not graduate from high school, walking across the stage in cap and gown, with a baby pacifier in the mouth. Try one of these creative ideas and you’re sure to have a success story to tell.
About The Author
Kim Proulx knows lots about kids, parenting and strengthening the family bond. As a Certified Parent Coach she vows that surrounding your baby in a safe and comfortable environment is the first step in creating a happy family. Since babies love their pacifier it’s best to give them a baby gift in place of the pacifier when it’s time to say goodbye to their paci.