parenting toddler

I’m A Pushover When It Comes To The Pacifier

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binkie babyIt’s time for my toddler to say farewell to his beloved pacifier, but I just don’t have the heart to take it away from him.

Before my kids were born, I was ambivalent about pacifiers. Then my twins came seven weeks early and the NICU doctors told me pacifiers could be beneficial for preemies because the sucking helps them remember to breath. So I became a pacifier pusher, constantly trying to get the boys to latch on and using stuffed animals with pacifiers attached to make them more appealing. I managed to get one baby hooked, the other, not so much.

Last month the boys had their eighteen-month pediatrician visit. Everything went great, but right before he left the room our doctor commented that we should try to get rid of the pacifier as soon as possible. My husband took this as code for “get rid of the pacifier in the next twenty-four hours or else.” He insisted we start right away by denying our son the pacifier for the drive home. It was not a pleasant car ride. I’m not sure who was yelling more loudly- me or my son.

For the most part, my little guy can make it through the day okay without his trusty mouth plug. My rule is that I don’t offer it unless he asks for it. But when he’s cranky or hurt or teething all he wants is his pacifier for comfort and I can’t help but give it to him. I’m an easy target because I don’t like to see him cry. I think refusing to give it to him is pointless because one day he will decide for himself that he doesn’t need the pacifier anymore. Frankly, sometimes I just don’t have the time, energy or patience to coddle a pouty toddler and in that way the pacifier is soothing to me too.

I will admit that without the pacifier my son is more vocal. I can’t deny that his baby teeth don’t have the Colgate commercial readiness of his brother’s and perhaps the pacifier is to blame. But I’ve seen him spit the pacifier out when he wants to make an garbled exclamation and I don’t really care what his baby teeth look like. If genetics are any indicator, he’s going to need braces no matter what.

My husband thinks we’ve progressed to only using the pacifier to fall asleep at night. In reality, the afternoon nap is also accompanied by a pacifier about half the time. Sometimes I hand the pacifier to him out of habit and then I feel too guilty to take it away. Other times I consciously hand over the contraband because it’s been a rough morning and I just want him to go to sleep.

i know that as parents, we do things our children aren’t happy about because we want what’s best for them. But this isn’t as serious as taking my kids to get their vaccinations or trying make sure they get a balanced diet. I believe that eventually, when he is ready, my son will outgrow his pacifier without my having to force him. I’ve never heard of a kid going off to college with a pacifier, and I don’t think my son will be bringing his binkie to the dorm either.

(Image: pio3/Shutterstock)