Bye Bye Binky


I have a confession to make.

My name is Julia, and my daughter will be three in February, and she still uses a pacifier.  And I’m a dentist.

(Hi, Julia.)

I always hated seeing other people’s toddlers walking around in public with plugs in their mouths.  I’m not really sure how it happened that my daughter still has one.  I wanted to have her off it by age 1, but she didn’t seem ready.  Then her father and I split up when she was 18 months, and she was so attached to it that it didn’t feel right to take it away.  Then it just continued like that, because she is constantly bounced between my place and my parents’ place (while I’m on call) and, lately, Tyler’s place.  I couldn’t bring myself to take away her one constant source of comfort when her sense of security seemed to be so undermined by jumping around from home to home.

I had always figured that eventually I’d just take it from her, ready or not… but it turns out that I’m just not that mom.  Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing, I don’t know.  I really am not sure if I’m doing the right thing by being sensitive to her cues, or just being lazy and letting her keep it because it’s easier than trying to wean her off it.

You know?  Whether it’s that you’re half an hour late for work and your toddler just will.not.cooperate, or that you haven’t slept in days and your toddler just will.not.sleep, sometimes it is a heck of a lot easier to reach for that little piece of plastic and rubber, especially when you are a single parent and have no help.

(Now she’s just making excuses, you think.  Woman up and get the kid off that thing before she starts packing the Nuks in a suitcase for college.)

Well, if you’re thinking that, you’re right.  I’m gonna do it!  Bouncing between houses is always going to be a way of life for her, because her parents are divorced, and a pacifier isn’t going to change that.  If she needs security she can sleep with her Pooh Bear that she brings everywhere.  I think it’s time to boot the binky.

Only problem is… I have no idea how to do it in a loving but firm way.  Hey, I’m not perfect.  My kid still has a pacifier.  I haven’t folded laundry in at least three weeks.  I almost never change the oil in my car.  Sometimes I even post annoying Facebook statuses.  So I’m turning to you, internet, to please help me: tell me, how did you get your kid off their pacifier?

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  1. by ashley

    On November 2, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    i tricked my daughter, one day it just went inside out kinda and i said it was broken and she just went and threw it away! i have also heard of people cutting the tip off. just try to disfigure it in some way! good luck!

  2. by Sarah

    On November 2, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    Does she have it all the time? First, only allow her to have it during nap & bedtime. After three days she’s only allowed to have it at bedtime… Then, a week later take it away cold-turkey at bedtime. By the third binky-less night she should be fine.

    Of course all kids are different. This method worked on my 11 month old.

    Good luck!

  3. by Emily H.

    On November 2, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    I don’t have a toddler, but I’ve heard a few cute stories about how parents got their toddlers off pacifiers:
    1.) Binky Fairy: Make a crafty mailbox (or use your own) and tell the toddler that the Binky Fairy is coming to take pacifiers to…. Have her put the binky in the mailbox and the Binky Fairy leaves her some sort of cute letter or stickers or something for being a “big girl” and giving away her binky

    2.) I’ve heard of parents blowing up balloons with strings and decorating them, then tying the binky to the strings and letting go of the balloons outside in some sort of cute way of saying goodbye with the toddler.

    Good luck! :)

  4. by Jen

    On November 2, 2011 at 7:41 pm

    Hi Julia! I’m Jen, and my 2.5 year old still has a binky and I don’t care! He only has it to sleep and I don’t see the problem with it. He uses it to fall asleep and if I go in his room right now, I’m sure it has fallen out. I’m sure you don’t want to hear what I have to say, but if you really don’t want to take it away, don’t…just tell her she only gets it if she’s in her room. I started that around 18 months- “binkys stay in the bed.”

  5. by Elizabeth V.

    On November 2, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    Okay so I am not of the popular opinion, but…relax! It’s not like she will go to kindergarden with the thing! She will give it up when she is ready to and is so lucky to have a mama who follows her cues! I don’t think it is lazy at all…my godson used his until he was over three and he is just fine…It is still in a drawer and he just likes to check on it once in a while…His little brother is a different story though…His last one was thrown out after he chewed a hole in it and they decided to go cold turkey from there…Major misery for everyone involved, he even chewed up the bedrail in an attempt to soothe himself! Maybe you could just limit it to nap and bed time so that you don’t have to suffer through the dirty looks from busy bodies who obviously do not remember what it is like to have small children!

  6. by jennifer

    On November 2, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    I have a now 5yo with autism. Not easy to loose the plug. Tbh…I stopped buying them and told him when they’re gone..they’re gone. So we ended up on vacation…with family in Illinois and he had a cold! Lost it! The last one. We both cried. Lol. But by day twoit was better. By day three we were cured

  7. by Rene

    On November 2, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    We took it away from Boston when he was 2.5. First it was no paci while playing outside. Then it was the heads up, we told him he had one week to drop his paci down to just naps and bedtime. We reminded him every single day how close it was getting. Then it was the day and we said it was time. He got it at nap time and at bedtime and we planned to do that for a couple of weeks, but it didn’t even take that long. Quickly he would fall asleep and forget to ask for that paci, and it only took one week before they were gone forever.

    Now, getting Marshall off the paci, that’s gonna be really hard. He is quite stubborn.

    (and my dentist said there was no worry waiting until 3-ish to take away the paci)

  8. by Julia

    On November 2, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    Brooklyn was 2 when we took it away. She was at a point where she wanted it all the time. One day I cut the tips off of them and when she asked for it I gave one to her and told her it was broken.

    There were a few rough patches and she continued to ask for it quite a while (2 months ish?) But overall very easy.

    Things to note

    Don’t let her see you cut the binky

    I told Brooklyn that it broke because she used it too much..she seemed to accept it.

  9. by SingleMama

    On November 3, 2011 at 8:34 am

    We still have the binky (eeks), but my sister had the binky fairy come for my niece. My niece had 3 binkies, and she knew that if she left one under the bed a small toy would appear the next day. The last binky, she would get a big toy. This allowed her to do it on her own time (since she was old enough to understand) and she never complained! I think it took around 5 weeks for her to “cash in” the third binky, but it worked!

  10. by Katie

    On November 3, 2011 at 11:04 am

    We started by only letting him have it to sleep. He got used to not having it during waking hours and would only ask for it when really upset. We were down to 2 and one got lost. He seemed to accept that, so a week later I told him the other one got lost and he only cried that first time. It ended up being surprisingly easy, but I think the level of trauma is probably a direct correlation to how attached they are to it. :)

  11. by Tess

    On November 3, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    We cut the tip off the binkies and he deemed them “broken.” A few nights of crappy, broken binkies and we were good to go! (around 18 months)

  12. by Julia

    On November 3, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Thank you all so much for the comments and help!! Gradually is definitely the way to go… And I think disfiguring it somehow and telling her it’s broken for the last push would probably work best for her, we’ll see how it goes. I really appreciate it, guys. Oh and the reassurance that it’s not the end of the world that she still has one is always nice too :) thanks again!

  13. by AFB

    On November 3, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    My daughter Kathryn loved, loved, loved her binky. And we did too. It was an equally codependent relationship! When she could not sleep, when she was fussy….binky. So as time went on — we tried to limit it to naps and bedtime. That did not work. So we went to the DENTIST (lol) when she was 1.5 and she sternly told me, stop the binky! Cold Turkey! So we went home. Told Kathryn binkies were for little babies and she was a big girl now. Put all of her binkies in an envelope addressed to the Dentist. And we had a hellish two weeks (crying, having trouble falling asleep). It was like quitting smoking. We questioned our decision frequently. So we did more cuddling, more stories, refocused her on cuddling her puppy instead of a binky. We pushed through and Bam! she woke up one day and it was over. She never mentioned it or asked for it again. I still look back at her photos with her binky and miss it. :( But I would say cold turkey did work out well in the long run. Good Luck!

  14. by Vivi

    On November 4, 2011 at 7:08 am

    I tookine to kindergarten for a few days… No one else had one so I gave it up. I’ve never had or needed braces and I turned out just fine. If this is really important then fight the battle, if not then she’ll give it up when she’s ready (before college).

  15. by Terra

    On November 4, 2011 at 7:35 am

    Both of my girls used a pacifier. My oldest was just over 2 and we had her down to just in the car and at bedtime. We went on vacation and I forgot to pack one. She was fine the whole time. When we got home we told her the dogsitter had thrown them out because she wasn’t a baby anymore. Done. With my youngest we went on vacation again when she was just over 1 and didn’t take any. That was it. So vacations seem to work really well. You’re already out of your normal routine so I don’t think they notice as much.

  16. by Caroline

    On November 4, 2011 at 8:08 am

    I think I stressed out about it much more than my daughter. A few months after she turned 2, I woke her up and told her that next Monday (a week away) was a VERY special day. I told her that was when she would officially be a big girl and wouldn’t need her paci anymore. She was nervous, but we made a big game out of it. We circled the date on the calendar and then counted down each day. We talked about it a lot over that week. When Monday came, I went into her room all excited. I clapped my hands and made like it was a day to celebrate. My daughter copied my enthusiasm and went to the trash and kissed her paci goodbye. She was so proud that she did herself, and told everyone about it for the next few days. Letting it seem like it was all her doing seemed to really help for us. Good luck!

  17. by Lisatlantic

    On November 4, 2011 at 8:13 am

    Meh, like everything else, it’s not a problem until its a problem. So if it’s working for you guys, don’t stress about it. She’ll grow out of needing it.

  18. by Heather

    On November 4, 2011 at 9:09 am

    First, I agree with everyone else on weaning off – cutting down the use in steps is much easier than cold turkey. Binky in bed is a good first step. With my older daughter, she started biting through them, so we had to explain that she was just too old to use them.
    Do you know anyone else having a baby or with a small baby? Our good friend had just had a baby, so we told Sara that since she was a big girl & didn’t need them anymore, we should give them to Baby Katie. She loved the idea of helping take care of the baby so much that she barely got upset about it. We used this same trick getting our 2nd daughter off bottles (we sent them to Baby Lucus). Worked like a charm! Good luck!

  19. by MissyJ

    On November 4, 2011 at 10:21 am

    The ‘pappy fairy’ came to visit my daughter! One night after she was asleep I simply cut the end off to where it was too short to suck. When she woke up I told her the ‘Pappy fairy’ had come in the night because she was a big girl now. She took the end of my daughters pacifier to make new ones for another little kid some where else. It actually worked. No fussing at all, she was so proud she was a ‘big kid’ now.

  20. by Kristen

    On November 4, 2011 at 11:41 am

    My son never really got attached to the binky, so I’m afraid I have nothing helpful to offer on that. But he’ll be 6 in February and he still sucks his thumb when he is sleepy or needing serious comfort. So, if you master this one, Julia, I’d like a full report!!! And your professional opinion of course. :)

    Good luck punt kicking the paci!!

  21. by Stephanie

    On November 4, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    We got my son to gather up all his soothers, put them in a bag and we took them to a build a bear store and he got to pick and animal out and pick an outfit out and he paid for them with his soothers.

  22. by KathleenSteffy

    On November 4, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    You read my mind! I just embarrassedly admitted to a coworker that my son still uses a binky and came back to computer to find your blog!
    You just inspired me and I think I will join you in saying goodbye to the binky!
    Good luck to you and sweet Caroline!

  23. by Tanya

    On November 5, 2011 at 6:36 am

    I did something similar to one of the pp’s. Luckily when I was determined to get my son off his binky (17m), he was already down to just naps n bedtime with them. But he was a hardcore addict. We had a giant basket of them, probably 50 (no lie). He had them stashed all over like a junkie! Under mattresses, under the couch, in his toybox. But I digress…my brother was having a baby so I told him we had to wash them all and give them to the new baby because she didn’t have any and he was a big boy now. He helped, and we retrieved all of them and put them in the basket for baby kaley. Seemed fine, but bedtime was absolutely hellish for 3 wks. A lot of rocking and soothing and a couple of cheats later, we were binky-free. Finally. Although I still miss it sometimes, like when we moved recently and I found three (!) That I didn’t know about hidden in various places. It was kind of like that last tie to babydom and it made me a little sad. But we’re no worse for the wear. I think it was as hard on me as it was him lol.

  24. by Britt

    On November 5, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    We had a conversation about it hurting her beautiful teeth, we had just been to the dentist for her 2 year checkup and she was developing an open bite. We came home, I sat in the kitchen with the scissors and she ran around the house finding binkies, bringing them to me, and we cut the nipples off. This way she could still have them, as we had tried weeks before to mail them away to the other babies and it didn’t go well. She needed to know where they were. She slept that night with one in her hand. We laid on her floor until she fell asleep about an hour and half later, and the next night was easier. It got steadily easier from there on. However she was down to only nighttime by 18 months. With almost all adjustments in this house it takes a week. You can do it!!

  25. by Julia

    On November 6, 2011 at 7:10 pm

    Thank you all so much for the help and suggestions! I really appreciate everyone chiming in on this. I am SO consulting you guys about potty training shortly… as I can’t seem to figure that one out, either.

  26. by Holly

    On November 7, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    Hi Julia, It’s Holly– like, from UConn Holly. I secretly read your blog in between patients at work, and am a huge fan! I hope that doesn’t make me a creepster! haha… I love your writing, even though I am eons away from kids myself (I hope), your writing is so smart and sarcastic that you make those no-shows worth the decreased production!

    Anyway, not that I am an authority on anything child related… but, this post made me laugh, as I was so attached to my bottle growing up that I literally was still sipping from it when I could chew steak. My mom ended up making up a “bottle fairy” when I was about 4, along the lines of the tooth fairy, and got me all excited and prepared for the night when she came and magically took my bottles away and left me with a present.

    It worked, and I can safely say I don’t think I was permanently scarred.

    Hope all is well in CT!

  27. by Julia

    On November 7, 2011 at 7:07 pm

    Holly!! I’m glad you like the blog! I def don’t think you’re a creeper, I’m flattered! (Hey, I write these posts in between no-shows, so, I think it’s normal.) Caro would *totally* go for a the binky fairy idea. The only problem with this post is that now I have so many good suggestions about how to ditch the binky that I don’t know which one to try first. Haha. Hope you’re doing well out west!!

  28. by Carrie Pink

    On November 7, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    My oldest daughter used the binky until 11 months, My plan was to lose it so she would stop using it but then I really lost it and she didn’t even notice. My younger daughter used the binky for 6 months before kicking the habit cold turker on her own and took to sucking her fingers instead.

    My advice to you, keep her active enough during the day that the binky will only be of interest when she is tired, from there see what she does, because of she takes to sucking her fingers you will have a bigger issue. Be patient my daughter London is 3 now and still sicks her finger when she is tired to self soothe.

  29. by katy

    On November 8, 2011 at 4:58 am

    my daughter who is now 5 1/2 had her passie till she was a little over 3. She only had one left. i tried taking it away by weaning her off if it and we didnt sleep for over a week. So we gave it back to her and figured whats the harm, the dentist even stated as long as its only at night its not a problem. Then we moved and the dog ate it. That happened 6 months later and 3 days she was fine this was all while we had a newborn son at home with a passie. now my son we tried taking it away as well and he is not ready! he only gets it at night and i am fine with it. When he is good and ready he will give it up otherwise by age 4 it is gone. i wont let him go to preschool with it but i know that hes not ready yet to give it up….

  30. by Amber

    On November 18, 2011 at 9:57 am

    Something my MIL always told me, especially since my almost two year old daughter is still on bottles (never took to a binky), “Where on her diploma will it say at what age she gave up bottles or when she was potty trained?! Just enjoy her for as long as you have her! She will be grown before you know it.” Of course, this was all before we learned she has feeding issues and the best thing was to keep her on the bottle. At some point you will need to kick the binky habit, but for now, maybe just restrict it to when she is home or when she is sleeping? Kinda get her used to the idea of it not always being around…best of luck!

  31. by Maggie

    On December 3, 2011 at 10:21 am

    My son was addicted to his binky too. He had really bad reflux like your little girl. He would put his binky in after every bite. I actually think it helped him to keep the food down, or soothe the pain. I’m not sure. I said we were going to be done with the binky at 18 months, but then he had to have ear surgery and I felt horrible. I couldn’t take it away. We had to cut the tips off the pacifiers. It was a frustrating 2 days, but that is really all it took and he hasn’t looked back. You can do it! You are a strong woman! This too shall pass.