Break the Pacifier Habit—Gently and Creatively
The Latin root for pacifier is “pax,” or peace—and any parent who has been brought relief from an infant’s screams by that bit of plastic knows why. But when the infant has become a toddler, or even preschooler, getting him or her to forgo the binky for good may feel like a war.
On the one hand—no pun intended—it can be easier to break a child of a pacifier habit than a thumb-sucking habit (you can’t take away a thumb!), so the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that you provide your baby with a safe pacifier in infancy to satisfy her natural need to suck.
But, according to the AAPD, the pacifier habit should be strongly discouraged after age 3. In fact, there’s evidence that the longer a child uses a pacifier after age 2, the greater the chances that his or her jaw and tooth development will be adversely affected and correctable only by orthodontics years later.
If your child is very attached to the pacifier, you may have to employ a creative strategy (or two) in the detachment process. Experienced parents have made the following suggestions:
- Enlist your dentist’s help. Arrange in advance for your dentist to give your child a special gift in return for her bag of collected binkies.
- Visit a Build-A-Bear Workshop. Along with the stuffing, fill the bear with the pacifiers. This way, your child still has the binkies, but they won’t be ruining his or her bite.
- Create a sticker chart. Every binky-free day earns a sticker for your child. A certain number of stickers earn her a special toy.
- Conduct a visit from the Tooth Fairy’s cousin, the Paci-Fairy. Pacifiers placed under your child’s pillow at night are “miraculously” replaced with something very special by the next morning.
Even if one of these strategies works initially, there is no guarantee that a follow-up tantrum or two won’t erupt. Be sympathetic but staunch, suggests Mark L. Brenner, author of the book Pacifiers, Blankets, Bottles, and Thumbs: What Every Parent Should Know About Starting and Stopping. Most kids, he says, will accept their binky-free state in a couple of days.
Dr. Jared would love to answer any further questions regarding pacifier habits. Click here to schedule an appointment at KiDDS Dental today! Or give us a call at (509)-891-7070.