Like many parents, Suzi Rush thought that her son EJ's pacifier was a lifesaver -- at least at first. But at age 2, EJ still craved his binky when he was upset, and if it was MIA when he needed it, all hell broke loose. His fits could be embarrassing -- as one was when Rush forgot to take along his beloved binky on an emergency-room visit. "EJ had hurt his arm playing and was so hysterical that he wouldn't cooperate for the exam or x-ray," she says. "The staff asked me to leave and come back when he had calmed down! I had to find a binky." Rush ended up begging the nurses in the maternity ward's nursery for one. When she popped it into his mouth, EJ relaxed, climbed on the x-ray table, and was the perfect little patient.
Anyone with a binky-obsessed toddler can relate. For many kids, using a pacifier satisfies a natural craving. "Babies are born with a built-in need to suckle," says George Cohen, MD, clinical professor of pediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences. But when it becomes a habit, kids need help letting go.