Whether crystal clear, neon-bright or covered in their favorite characters, pacifiers are the modern baby’s accessory of choice. Thanks to studies showing that they reduce the incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), most pediatricians have given pacifiers the green light.
Babies aren’t the only ones who love them; parents quickly become addicted to the pacifier’s soothing effects. Unfortunately, it often becomes a habit that overstays its welcome.
Lotus Su, dentist at Pediatric Dental Associates, says using a pacifier too much or for too long can contribute to dental problems, including deformation of the palate and shifting of the teeth, as well
as mouth breathing and dry mouth, which may increase susceptibility to tooth decay.
“The earlier a pacifier habit is stopped, the less likely that there will be any dental problems,” he says.
Help your kids become confidently pacifier-free with these tactics.
Before embarking on a pacifier-purge, check out some children’s books on the topic. After listening to stories like “The Last Noo-Noo” by Jill Murphy or “Pacifiers Are Not Forever” by Elizabeth Verdick, your child may be more receptive to the idea.
When three-year-old Violet was ready to give up her pacifier, mom Bec Langham took her to a popular build-your-own-stuffed-animal store. Violet deposited her last pacifier safely inside the teddy bear before it was sewn up. The bear now serves as both a cuddly friend and a unique reminder of Violet’s younger days.
Your child may be willing to donate her pacifiers to a good cause. Gather up the pacifiers, and pay a visit to a friend with a young baby. Have your child “gift” the baby with the pacifier collection, and shower her with praise for her generosity.
The Paci Fairy
Steal this idea from Supernanny Jo Frost and have your child place his pacifiers in a large envelope to mail to the “pacifier fairy.” Put the envelope in the mailbox together before bed, then swap the envelope for a new toy. When he wakes up, take him to the mailbox to find his new treasures.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Parents seeking the quickest route to pacifier-freedom can simply throw them all away.
Kelly Stallings opted for the cold-turkey approach with daughter Taylor. “The first night was rough, but after that, she didn’t care,” Stallings says. “Just make sure to get rid of each and every one, so your child isn’t tempted to relapse (and you’re not tempted to cave).”
No matter how stubbornly your child clings to a beloved binky, eventually it will be a thing of the past.
Malia Jacobson is an award-winning health and parenting journalist and mom of three. Her latest book is “Sleep Tight, Every Night: Helping Toddlers and Preschoolers Sleep Well Without Tears, Tricks, or Tirades.”