Binkies, nuks and pacis – oh my!

Dayton Children’s New Mommy Safety Blogger, Jessica Saunders

I was a little leary of giving Mary a pacifier. But one night – I think the night before I went back to work, I did it!

She was crying and wouldn’t stop and all I wanted was for her to sleep – alone, on her back, and in her crib.  She just wanted to be calmed by something – she wasn’t hungry, her diaper wasn’t dirty – she just wanted to be comforted.  And that pacifier was staring me straight in the face so I grabbed it, gave it to Mary and voilà – magic mute button!

As she calmed down, I calmed down and all was well in our home.

I was a thumb sucker myself, I think until about second grade, so I was concerned with starting a bad habit.  I was also concerned because I’m breastfeeding and didn’t want to confuse Mary.

But, luckily, I work around pediatric experts who know a whole lot more about the topic so I was happy to learn the following when I returned to work.

  1. Pacifiers should be limited to use at naps and bedtime and not reinserted once the child is asleep. 
  2. Infants who are breast feeding should not use the pacifier until they have firmly established breast feeding, usually about a month of age. 
  3. If pacifier use is restricted to sleep time, the child is more likely to spontaneously discard it’s use at an expected age. 

And what about that expected age? For the most part, a child should stop using a pacifier as soon as possible.  Some children will stop on their own.  The pacifier should be stopped before the permanent teeth come in – so starting the process around age 4 years should result in the pacifier being gone by age 5. 

Parents who wish to wean a child from pacifier use should try limiting its use to bedtime only, getting rid of it cold turkey or substituting another comfort item such as a stuffed toy for the pacifier.

As I’ve shared this story with friends I’ve gotten all sorts of creative ways that parents have used to rid their home of pacifiers.  The Paci Fairy has been spotted in our area – so has the Easter Bunny who takes binkies and leaves candy and toys. The Binkie Bunny also comes and takes binkies for the “new baby.”

What has worked in your home?

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