To Binky or Not to Binky? - iBlankie - Parental Tips to Raising Happy Kids - Parents Instruction Manual

To Binky or Not to Binky?
That is the Question

Pacifiers-can't live with them, can't live without them.

Parents often say to me, "We took our daughter's pacifier away at eighteen months" or "We decided that our son was too old for a pacifier at three, so we threw it out."

My attitude toward pacifiers is different. It feels important that we look at pacifier-sucking behavior within the context of the goals for your child and that we look at pacifier-sucking behavior through the eyes of your child. I feel strongly that each child should decide when they give up their pacifier.

Why take your baby's pacifier away at a certain given age. How would you like it if someone decided that you were finished with chocolate? Whose body is it, anyway?

A pacifier is a wonderful tool for helping children learn to self-soothe. If only we could self-soothe so easily. When a child is ready to give up a pacifier, she will, perhaps with a little encouragement.

When my son was eighteen months old, he used a pacifier in the side of his mouth-he looked like W.C. Fields smoking a cigar, except that it was a pacifier. He chomped and chomped on it that way throughout the day. When I took him to our pediatric dentist, the dentist noticed that my son's teeth on the left (pacifier) side were not emerging. He said that I should take his pacifier away immediately so that his teeth could erupt through his gums properly. I didn't. I made the decision that his emotional health was more important than his dental health-I decided that I would rather pay for braces as he got older than pay for therapy as he got older. When my son was four years old he decided that it wasn't cool to have a pacifier in his mouth and he gave it up on his own. And then his teeth emerged from his gums. (Disclosure: He did need braces later, but not because of his pacifier).

I have seen a good many children use pacifiers until they are four or five or six or seven, although as they grow older they usually use pacifiers to soothe themselves when their peers are not around to see their binkies.

If you have concerns, certainly check with a pediatric dentist to get their opinion. Perhaps there is a happy medium between their advice and your child's need for a paci-y.

To B-inky or not to B-inky? That is the question. The answer? Ask your child.

©Irene Shere, LLC