Behavior, Toddlers

31. Wean that Binky

The risk of SIDS is highest between two and four months of age. Because pacifiers have been shown to decrease the risk of SIDS, I usually recommend weaning them sometime after four months of age. When is the best time to get rid of a binky? When you find yourself running into your child’s room all night long, sticking the pacifier back in his mouth! At this point, the binky has become more of sleep hindrance than a help. For children three years and older, pacifiers can adversely affect the shape of the palate. Consequently, they should always be weaned by three years of age.

Parents frequently ask about the best way to wean pacifiers. In my opinion, the easiest way to get rid of binkies is to go cold turkey. Simply gather them all up, throw them away, and never look back. If you don’t have pacifiers in your home, there won’t be any temptation to use them. Yes, your child may scream for a day or two at naptime and bedtime, but she will quickly rise to the occasion and learn to put herself to sleep without them.

FYI, some families who are banishing pacifiers like to place them in a wrapped box for the “binky fairy,” who leaves an alternative gift for the child.

If going cold turkey isn’t for you, then offering pacifiers only at naps and nighttime is another reasonable strategy. Some parents gradually pare down pacifiers with a scissors until they become unusable. One father I know hammered his child’s last binky into sheetrock, forcing the toddler to face the wall anytime she wanted to suck the binky. While creative, these methods run the risk of providing mixed messages to the child.

In my opinion, cold turkey remains the best—and easiest—way to go.