Thursday, September 4, 2014

Bye-Bye Binky: Is it time to say goodbye to the pacifier?


I was always on the fence about whether to use a pacifier or not. I didn't want to struggle to get our newborn boy to calm down, but at the same time I didn't want to end up with a 6-year-old that still sucked on a pacifier (like some of the kids I've seen at the grocery store...)  

I also wanted to avoid having our baby still sucking on pacifiers once he was grown...

Our pediatrician told us early on that she thought some "nipple confusion" was a good thing, and so we decided to use the pacifier to soothe our newborn if nothing else would work. The very last resort would be letting him suckle at the breast (non-nutritive sucking) if he was really inconsolable. I read (in The Happiest Baby on the Block) that you should phase out the pacifier by the time they are 6-months-old so as to avoid an emotional attachment to it. So I planned to have Baby G off the binky by that age, and didn't think it would be too difficult because we hardly used it anyway. Mostly in the car if he was fussy (since there was little else we could do) or at night, though we tried not to let him fall asleep with it. However, sometimes if he seemed tired and cranky, the minute the pacifier went in his mouth, his eyes closed and he was out. That was a handy trick that we still tried not to overuse.

We barely used the pacifier on our vacation, so I started thinking we were on the way to saying goodbye to it, but right when we got home, he seemed like he was beginning to teethe. Everything was going in his mouth, he was drooling like a faucet, was really cranky, and orajel and the chilled gel-filled teethers seemed to soothe him. I'd read that you shouldn't take the binky away while they're teething, since it can be a great way to pacify them (heehee). Plus, babies often chew on their pacifiers when they're teething too. 

Just a couple weeks later though, we started trying to get him to sleep in his own room at night, and stopped letting him nap on us. I think it was harder on me than on him; for that first week, it went magically. Hardly any fussing at being laid down, he wasn't waking frequently, and when he did wake, it was only to eat and then he went right back to sleep. The second week though... he seemed angry when we'd lay him down and no amount of back patting or rubbing or soothing lullabies would calm him down. So as usual, we'd turn to the pacifier to see if that would work, but it just made him angrier! He would thrash his head to the other side and scream bloody murder if we tried to put it in his mouth again. At first we thought it was merely because he was already upset and just wasn't noticing that we were giving him his binky, but when we offered it to him the following night while he was only fussing a little bit, it flipped a switch in him and he went berserk again! This went on for a week; us offering the pacifier to calm him down so he could go to sleep and him rejecting it vehemently with heart-wrenching screams and cries. 

I stopped giving him the pacifier during the day as well - he didn't seem to need or want it. And after a week of difficult bedtimes and him still refusing the pacifier at night, we stopped using it altogether. The pacifiers remained untouched on the drying rack and sank to the bottom of my diaper bag from disuse. He started solids during this time, which perhaps helped.

About a month passed with absolutely no sign of the binky, and I thought "Hurray! He's weaned himself off the pacifier!!"

But then...

We had a rough couple of nights a little over a week ago, and nothing was working. He was inconsolable and on a whim, thought I'd dig around for a pacifier and see if that's what he wanted. I hesitated to give it to him because 1) it could just make him even angrier like it did before, or, 2) would just put him back on the binky, which we thought we were done with.

Thankfully/unfortunately, the pacifier worked and it calmed him down and he was able to go to sleep. Darn it. I tried not to use the pacifier after that, but I ended up giving it to him again. Now it seems like he's back on it, but hopefully not emotionally attached to it. He's coming up on his 6-month birthday... but there's no sign of him self weaning again anytime soon. Although, that last time did just happen out of nowhere, so perhaps he will surprise us again.

I did recently see some cute ways for toddlers to "say goodbye" to their pacifiers, with little ceremonies and parties and letting the binkies be carried away by balloons. Though I do not want our boy to be attached to a pacifier for the next couple of years, I'm still intrigued and excited by the thought of letting him be in charge of a "goodbye ceremony." He would be initiating himself into childhood and perhaps that would be exciting for him as well; to take a "big boy" step and happily move on from babyhood.

But... we shall see. I really don't want to just take the pacifier away cold turkey, but I'd still like to try and avoid too much of an emotional attachment to it. Which means I need to phase it out soon.

Didn't have a pacifier handy... and couldn't get him to suck his own thumb (which he rarely does), so he sucked on my finger instead. Leaving me immobile for a short while.

How old was your baby when they stopped using the pacifier? Did you use any special tricks to wean them off of it or use a "ceremony" to have them say "Bye-bye binky"? Comment below!
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