Pacifiers are one of many subjects that are often raised in parenting circles and forums. Should you use one or not? When should a child be weaned from his or her pacifier?
I know that many of my friends are against the use of pacifiers, but we happily used them with both Claire and Aerin. Pacifiers — or “binkies,” as we referred to them to the girls — provided great comfort, especially at times when we couldn’t immediately be there for them (e.g., during car rides or while we were sleep-training). They helped tremendously when it came to the girls not putting random objects into their mouthes. And they were almost always guaranteed to quiet and calm my daughters when we were in public and I didn’t want to make a scene.
But they are not meant to last forever.
Many experts recommend that children be weaned from pacifiers between the ages of 12-18 months. Some say even earlier, between 9-12 months. And almost all agree that using pacifiers past the age of 2 can be more harmful than beneficial.
When we first began to give Claire her binkies, we thought that she would surely be weaned between the recommended age range of 12-18 months. But that all changed when Aerin came along. Because the girls are only 13 months apart, it was very difficult to get Claire to stop when Aerin was using them — she would just march on over and take it from her little sister’s mouth! Additionally, I just plain felt bad keeping Claire from her binkies when she was still adjusting to being a big sister.
So we let her keep using them. And when she turned 2, we began to only allow them for naps and bedtime. (And the occasional meltdowns.)
I told myself that we would wean both kids when Aerin turned 18 months old. But then she got sick and took a long time to recover. And I kept putting it off because I was scared that it would be tremendously difficult.
Luckily, in this case, I was wrong.
We decided to go the gradual route, by snipping off a small portion of the nipple every 2-3 days. The idea is that by the time the pacifier gets too short to use properly, the child will be used to having less in his or her mouth. Or, they will just not like the pacifier as much because it will feel different and be more difficult to use.
Both kids were expectedly confused when we first presented them with the modified pacifiers. In fact, Aerin would have none of it. She immediately stopped using them!
Claire, on the other hand, was a different story. My mother says that she does not give up easily; we call it plain ol’ stubbornness. Her having had used pacifiers for so long also probably played a part. Each time we cut off a bit more, she would ask for a “large binky,” and we would just tell her that we had none. Thankfully, she always accepted this answer and just popped the “shorties” in her mouth in response.
It was a bit funny, especially since she didn’t protest the change. Towards the end, when the pacifiers were more than halfway cut and it became difficult for her to properly suck on them, she would fall asleep with one hand cupped over her mouth, knowing well that her binky would fall out otherwise. (As mentioned before, she was only using pacifiers during naps and bedtimes.)
You can see in the above picture, taken right before we threw out the pacifiers for good, that by this point, it was physically impossible to use these pacifiers. But she still tried! She tried to use these for a couple of days before finally giving up.
In the end, it took us 2 weeks to wean Claire from her beloved binkies, and Aerin just 1 day. There were no tears nor whining. It was, as a matter of fact, one of the easiest things I’ve done as a mother.
I honestly expected more drama. After all, it almost feels like the end of an era!