Binky.Pacifier.Nu-Nu.Wubba. No matter what your family calls them, those little soothers can be a total lifesaver for a grumpy baby. Thankfully, both of my babies took a pacifier fairly early on and easy, which probably made my life easier in some ways during those early years. But when you’re in the midst of those early months, you never think about the day when you’ll have to take it away. Until you realize that your walking, talking in full sentences toddler is still asking for his binky as he approaches his third birthday. It was time for an exit strategy.
There is no rule book for when to take away the binky, (unless you ask a dentist, and then most likely, they will tell you immediately or “you never should have given it to them in the first place”). But as our son got closer and closer to age three, we knew it was going to be time to get rid of it for good. He only had it at nap time and bedtime but he was pretty attached to them. In late summer, we started talking to him about “when you turn three, you become a big boy and big boys don’t need binkys anymore”. There was some slight resistance but for the most part, we just integrated it into our conversations. We brought it up regularly, reminding him that when his October birthday arrived, those binkys were going to go “bye bye”. But the big question for us was: how the heck do we do this?
I began to search through some of my online mom groups for ideas. I also remember when I was a nanny, we used the “binky fairy” who would come down, take the binkys away, and leaves a toy or new special item in their place. I wasn’t totally sure that our son would grasp that concept so I kept looking. Finally, I saw what I thought was a genius idea and we decided to roll with it. Right around his third birthday, we would all go to Build-a-Bear and let him choose a new furry friend to create at the workshop. He would be fully invested and excited about it and then when it came time to stuff it, he could drop his binkys in his bear and they would sew it up for him. To me, it seemed like the most creative and fool-proof way to convince him to get rid of those binkys. Funny how things in your head never go exactly as you plan, right?
Fast forward to the big day. We had hyped it up and prepped him for it all week. His eyes got really big when he saw the store and all the fun new buddies he could choose from. But almost immediately, you could tell he was overwhelmed. So much to look at, so many decisions and it started to go south very quickly. The next thing we knew, he was starting to tantrum because he wanted the Batman bear but didn’t want the blue shoes, and he wanted the hat, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah. He kept trying to find the place where they sewed the bear up so he could bust it open and get them back. I could see his little brain contemplating how to perform surgery right then and there. But he was done and this big, monumental event I had created in my head was blowing up right in front of me.
However, he did surprisingly well the first night without his binky. He asked for it repeatedly for about 10-15 minutes, cried (but not hysterically) for a little while and then decided that his new Batman bear was good enough because he could feel the binkys in his bear’s foot. (Thankfully, there were no attempts to perform a retrieval surgery). Before we knew it, our three year old was “binky free”.
So…if you are trying to figure out a way to get rid of those pesky pacifiers, this is just one way that we found worked for us. I can already tell that my daughter is going to be much harder to break this habit of and we may have to find another plan of attack. My advice to you is to talk it up (whatever you decide to do), prep them ahead of time, make it a big deal (think monumental occasion), and praise, praise, praise! Regardless of how you go about it, we all know that kids don’t go to college with a pacifier. You’ve got this, mama!!