Before your eyes, your cuddly baby has blossomed into an active, opinionated, independent toddler. But are those binkies still in the picture? Maybe this is a familiar scene: Tiptoeing in at night and leaving a rainbow of pacifiers above your child’s head for him to plug in if necessary.
On the one hand, your child (and therefore you, too) has mastered getting a full night’s sleep—uninterrupted. On the other, he has become reliant on a piece of rubber or latex in his mouth to fall asleep. You may have heard from friends and family members, “Well, he won’t be going off to college with it.” But you may ask yourself, when is it time to give it up? And how do I help him to do it?
Questions to consider about Baby’s binky:
- Why does he use it? To help him fall asleep? To help him when he needs comforting, such as when he says good-bye to mommy at childcare? Or provide something to suck on as he goes about his day? Obviously, using it all day and sporadically for comfort are two different situations.
- Is it affecting his language development? Do you notice his speech becoming slurred or does he grunt and point when the pacie is in his mouth?
The timing of breaking the pacifier habit depends on the individual child. Many experts believe that around three years, most children start to wean themselves from the pacifier. Sometimes kids in a preschool or childcare setting notice other kids not using a pacie and decide to break the habit by themselves. But all children kicking the habit will require the support of their families and caregivers—just how much intervention depends on the individual situation.
Some tricks to ditching the pacifier include:
- Discuss the pacifier usage in front of the child with the pediatrician or dentist. Often, words of wisdom from someone else have an impact on the child and provide motivation. Of course, keep your child included in the conversation. Having your child feeling in control of the pacifier usage or breaking from it is a large part of the battle.
- Make the good-bye to binky a ritual. With your child, collect all the binkies in the house, place in a box, wrap, and send to a designated new baby in the neighborhood or a new cousin. Let your child present the package to the baby or take to the post office. This method requires the child to quit cold-turkey, which may mean a few sleepless nights for your child and yourself. (On average it takes three to four days before your child has adjusted to life without a pacifier.)
- Use a gradual approach. This method can work well for the child who has a pacifier in his mouth all day. At first, limit pacie usage to certain rooms or for a specific amount of time or only when he is going to sleep. Gradually add more limitations. Then after discussing with your child, take the plunge to no pacie at all.
Remember that your child is going to need a lot of support during this transition. And certainly don’t try to wean your child when other major changes are happening in his life, such as a move to a new home, starting a new childcare, or introducing him to a new sibling.
TV: A Different Kind of Pacifier
In 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended parents eliminate television viewing for children under two and limit viewing for older children. At a time when Barney and Teletubbies were topics even adults were talking about, this made quite a splash—and the debate still is a hot one.
Think about it: How much TV does your child watch? Some of our faces may turn crimson when we realize just how much our young children watch daily. But for some parents, turning the TV on is strategic: It is not a replacement for the quality time spent with mom or dad but a way for parents to cook dinner or return an important phone call while knowing that our kids are safe in the company of Caillou or the Wonder Pets.
Art Projects for the Home
Children this age will turn off the TV when engaged in interesting activities. Art projects are great because they maintain kids’ interest while challenging different development areas. They can easily be done inside on a rainy day or outside during the spring and summer. Remember it is the process that kids learn from, not the finished product. (Though what kid doesn’t like to see his creation posted prominently on the refrigerator door—or on one of these cool displays?)
Try these arty projects:
- Painting either with watercolors or tempera (that easily washes out of clothing and off little fingers)
- Stickers of animals, trucks, or of others things that are interesting to your child specifically
- Sidewalk chalk that washes clean with a little water
- Molding with clay or dough that inspires wonderful creations (making a birthday cake is an all-time favorite). The best part of modeling dough is that it can be made in your own kitchen with your child’s help.
Thinking about Getting Pregnant again . . .
Are you ready for another baby? If you need a refresher on cycle charting, ovulation timing, and pregnancy symptoms, check out our family planning guides for answers to all your questions. (Our experts have already replied to hundreds!)
Also check out:
- “Am I Fit Enough To Have Another?
- Quiz: Are You Ready to Have Another Baby?
Not looking to try again? Test your postnatal birth control IQ instead!
More Development Help
As you’re considering your child’s development, keep in mind that all children are unique. Whether your child reaches milestones early or late, she has her own developmental path to follow. The dividing lines between these months are very fuzzy. If you have any concerns or questions about your child’s development, please check with her health care provider.
- Review what was happening in Baby’s last months.
- Learn what to expect in Baby’s 31st, 32nd, & 33rd months.