As a nanny, you may face the difficult task of helping a child to part from her beloved pacifier. While there are different schools of thought regarding when and if caretakers should insist on taking pacifiers away, health and dental risks are associated with long-term pacifier use. Dr. Edward Moody, the president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, believes that children should stop using pacifiers around age 2.
Here are some tips:
- Associate giving up the pacifier with growing up. Choose a birthday for the last day of pacifier use, so you can spin it as a celebration of the fact that the child is now a "big boy" or "big girl." Some caretakers have success with telling children that new babies who aren't so big yet need the pacifiers.
- Enlist the Binky Fairy. Tell the child that if he leaves his pacifier out overnight, the "Binky Fairy" will leave a toy in exchange. Allowing him to select the toy of his choice beforehand can act as motivation.
- Go cold turkey. One option is simply to pick a day to gather up all the pacifiers in the house and dispose of them.
- Gradually cut down on pacifier use. If the cold turkey method seems too abrupt, you can start by allowing a pacifier only at naptime or bedtime.
- Read binky-related storybooks with the child. There are quite a few of these books, such as Little Bunny's Pacifier Plan and The Binky Ba-ba Fairy.
- Replace the binky with another source of comfort. Kids turn to their pacifiers as a response to stress, so make sure to provide emotional comfort in its place. You can also give them a stuffed animal instead or try to interest them in an activity as a source of distraction.
- Take away the pacifier at a young age. Babies won't enjoy losing their pacifiers, but they won't be able to talk you out of it!
Of course you should also consult parents and any other caretakers before implementing a plan, so that everyone agrees on a method and the child doesn't receive mixed messages.