Q: My 2-year-old is addicted to her pacifier. Any tips on how to wean her off it without causing too much emotional trauma
A: Oh, that brings back precious memories of when my little girl, too, had a love affair with her binky. I remember how at first, it was a great help when I couldn’t nurse or she needed comforting. As a toddler, her pacifiers were like her best friends. I would fan them out around her body in her crib so that when she woke up at night, anywhere she reached was a glorious, sparkling binky.
But we began to realize that there was a dark side to this whole binky thing. She needed it more and more and before long she couldn’t go five minutes without the thing. So at age 2, under mounds of pressure from the ladies at the day care, my dentist and the blue-hairs in the supermarket, we decided to get rid of the binkies. There was a ceremony, and we tearfully sent them off to the binky-fairy.
We all felt so good about this big-girl decision… until bedtime. Then she realized that she could no longer have one and we realized that we would have given her any vice if it quieted her down and let us get some sleep.
Okay, so maybe we shouldn’t have gone cold turkey, but she was our first, and I had given up chocolate for Lent plenty of times, so I knew what I was doing. Finally, she cried herself to sleep, but we were comforted by the fact that her teeth were safe from the evils of the binky.
In the morning, when I looked in on my newfound big girl, I realized why she hadn’t cried anymore that night. She had started to suck her thumb.
Here’s a little tip: You cannot take away their thumb. There is no thumb fairy, their thumbs go with them everywhere and they cannot be sterilized in the dishwasher.
My precious angel sucked her thumb, I kid you not, for six more years. It took two plastic thumb guards ordered on the Internet, nasty-tasting nail polish, multiple tied-on gloves and finally an orthodontic device implanted in the roof of her mouth to get her to stop sucking her thumb.
My advice to you is this: do not take away her pacifier. Let her have it as long as she likes. Maybe wait until she is in high school and her friends tell her to toss it, and then, maybe, she’ll get rid of it. Maybe.
Jeanne Martin is a freelance writer, graphic designer and mother of two kids and an onery chihauhua.