I’ve lost rounds one, two, and three with the pacifier.
First, we intended to get rid of the pacifier by six months. (This is when some experts advise it, since the risk of ear infections with pacifier use begins to increase.) Well, six months came and went, and my son was still a terrible sleeper; the idea of going through a painful process to get rid of the one thing that reliably helped him to sleep on his own seemed preposterous. Then we decided to toss my son’s beloved binkie at one year. Well, other sources said 18 months was another perfectly acceptable deadline, since at 18 months, toddlers start an emotionally tumultuous developmental period that doesn’t end for several months. My son is now almost 21 months old, and guess what? Yes, he’s still a pacifier junkie.
And what about the study released this fall that concluded that pacifiers may have a harmful effect on infant boys’ emotional development? This study said that pacifiers interfere with an infant’s ability to copy facial expressions and later their emotional perspective-taking skills. These deficits continued all the way into childhood and even college! Helpful relatives pointed out this study to me in the newspaper, as my son would chant, “Binky! Binky! Where’s Binky?” at family dinners.
So how do I justify this continued pacifier use, as someone whose professional life has been firmly anchored in using data-driven thinking to make decisions about children and their educational development? It’s simple; I have many rationalizations. First, my son contracted repeated rounds of infections: hand, foot, and mouth, colds, conjunctivitis. Taking away the pacifier when he was sick and miserable seemed cruel. Earlier this fall, he started preschool and had a very difficult transition, to say the least. (Weeks of phone calls from the preschool to tell me that he had cried for hours straight, and I’d arrive to pick him up at school to find him sitting in a corner, clutching his stuffed lamb and sobbing, “Mommy. Mommy” through his pacifier.)
Now I’ve just made peace with the pacifier. I have no clear plans to take it away. I’ve surrendered to the power of the binky, and I know that my son has a greater statistical risk of ear infections, dental cavities, and on and on.
Have you ever made allowance for a child’s bad habit, even when you know that you should do something about it?
My (twin) sons used a pacifier for longer than I’d like to admit, HOWEVER, after about a year old, it was generally only for sleeping. They didn’t have the binkies in their mouths all day long, so I am not worried that development with regard to facial expressions was stunted.
Finally, we took the pacifiers away at Christmas (a year or two ago) with a lot of build up about how Santa was going to take the pacifiers and give them to babies who needed them, and in exchange, leave a toy under the tree for each boy. They were totally cool with this, and never asked for the pacifiers back or had a tantrum about it….but they started sucking their thumbs, which they had never done up to that point. Once again, it was (and still is) only when they are falling asleep, and I’m at a loss as to what to do about it. Will they outgrow it? Should we be actively trying to break the habit? If so, how? I have largely been ignoring it since I don’t know the best course of action.
School of Smock says
Yes, this is my fear! I would go through the trauma of taking away the binky and then he’d become a thumb sucker. I have no idea what you do. I guess my instinct would be to say that some kids have a really strong “sucking” need, and they’re just not old enough yet to grow out of it and there may not be much you do about it. Maybe talk to your dentist about whether their teeth/bite are being affected?
Mary Kathryn says
How do I say this? As your children get older, you realize they are their own people. Asking if we ever make allowances for their bad habits is rather like asking if we ever make allowances for our spouses’ or friends’ bad habits — or if they make allowances for ours. Physical dominance only works for a short period of a child’s life. And if you “win” one battle, the child may well choose another he can win more handily. Regarding most bad habits in my children, I thought: “She won’t be doing this when she’s 7; peer pressure will work better than all my efforts.” I’m doubtful of all this research. I had 2 kids that stuck with pacis; 2 never took them. I see no difference in their abilities to make facial expressions. Children are individuals. All these little life experiences form who they become, but we’re not parental scientists, forming our little frankensteins by adding or removing ingredients. At about a year, both my paci-suckers spat them out and gave them up. They didn’t need them for comfort anymore, and they were in the way of other things they wanted to do with their mouths. But taking them away early? I think that’s a great way to ensure the child hangs onto them harder.
School of Smock says
I agree. My son is going through a tough developmental period during his toddlerhood and just trying out “defiance” and real verbal communication. Taking away the pacifier might be just too much. And I agree that sometimes you make something into a huge deal in your head, and then they just outgrow it on their own, without any help from you. Just this morning, I was realizing that my son hadn’t wanted a sippy cup of milk for months to get back to sleep in the early morning. I spent months stressing about that, after being told by my pediatrician and by the baby books that he shouldn’t be drinking milk to help him go back to sleep at this age, ever. But he just stopped on his own. I didn’t do anything.
It’s incredible the number of things that we stress over with regards to our children. I’ve only been a mom for a little over two months and I’ve only recently realized how much pressure I put on myself (God forbid I need to stick my son’s pacifier when we’re out in public – people might think I’m a bad mom because he is crying…yeah, the thought crossed my mind). In your situation, I totally understand why you haven’t taken the pacifier away. The needs of our children come before the social pressures based on personal judgements and research. Our children are individuals and I think that we, as their mothers, are the experts on each of our individual kids (that’s what I keep trying to remind myself when looking at milestones and reading about different aspects of parenthood).
School of Smock says
Yes, those thoughts go through my mind too! I never thought so much about my own personal “image” — what I look like, exactly how I’m dressed, how I project myself — but now that I’m a mom, it’s so different! It’s like babies are little mirrors of yourself and your own insecurities that you carry out into the world.
Anne-Marie Lindsey (@DoNotFaint) says
Oh, there is no winning. My son is three months, and it stresses me out that he has started rejecting the pacifier! I cringe when relatives ask “where’s his binky?” and I hand it over and it does nothing, while my kid’s cousin happily sucks his binky. But I guess in just a few short months they’d be telling me to throw it out anyway. A sense of humor is so important in new mom life!
My daughter had her binky until she was 3. Yes, 3. There were a myriad of reasons (separation with her father, multiple moves, etc.) but ultimately it was a choice I made that I don’t regret and it hasn’t seemed to have harmed her development at all. Like Supermouse’s twins, I had only let her use the binkie for night times and nap times since (before) she was one. She never had any qualms with these restrictions. She didn’t move into thumb or finger sucking when we did finally give up the binkies. There was one really sad night, after I’d had her (then excitedly) cut up her binkies so the “Binky Fairy” would come & leave her a Big Girl Present… That night she tearfully announced she didn’t want to be a Big Girl at all anymore… After that one sad night she moved on and got over it.
Sometimes we make allowances for our children’s security devices, and I think that’s okay. Each child, each situation, is different – and comparing mine to yours to hers is usually apples to oranges.
I think cutting the binky usage back to just sleeping times makes it easier to ultimately get rid of them for good – but, then again, I’m only judging this off MY experience and it could be completely different for another parent/child.
buy windows vps says
Howdy, i read your blog from time to time and
i own a similar one and i was just wondering if you get a lot of spam feedback?
If so how do you prevent it, any plugin or anything
you can advise? I get so much lately it’s driving me crazy
so any support is very much appreciated.