Babies form many attachments during their first year, some out of necessity (drinking from the bottle or breast) and others because they're comforting (thumb-sucking, being rocked to sleep). "These soothing habits are instinctual and actually start in the womb," says Alan Greene, M.D., a pediatrician in California and author of Raising Baby Green. Trouble is, after a certain stretch of time, they can become almost addictive. "Many children begin to need more and more of the behavior to be satisfied, so the problem becomes further entrenched."
So what to do if your baby is hooked hard-core on his Binky, bottle, thumb, or rocker? First step: Mark your calendar. It's best to break these habits before your child hits 18 months, Dr. Greene says. Otherwise, certain items can morph into attachment objects that your sweetie clings to for comfort as he starts to exert his independence from Mom and Dad. To ease any separation anxiety, he may latch on to these objects to give himself a sense of security. "After 18 months, it may be even harder for the child to give it up," Dr. Greene says.
Saying goodbye may seem wrenching, but you'll get through it. Employ the trusty tips that follow, and with some patience -- and maybe even a bit of judicious bribery -- you can help make these habits history.