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Archive for September, 2015

Busting the Binky Habit

You may cringe when you think about ending your child’s “binky” or pacifier-sucking habit. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), “sucking is one of an infant’s natural reflexes. They begin to suck on their thumbs or other fingers while they are in the womb… Placing a thumb or another finger [or an object] in the mouth provides some children with a sense of security during difficult periods, such as when they are separated from their parents, surrounded by strangers or in an unfamiliar environment.”

However, as the ADA and most pediatricians in the U.S. will also point out, a prolonged sucking habit may cause problems with healthy growth of the mouth and roof of the mouth, as well as alignment of teeth. For these reasons, as well as the obvious social ones as your child gets older, it’s best to try to break the habit as early as possible. Most pediatricians will encourage stopping by age two, and many children will break the habit on their own between the ages of two and four.

To discourage your child’s habit, consider the following tips:

• Start by letting your child know that a binky is only to be used at bedtime and naptime. Give your child the responsibility of making sure that the binky is stored on her pillow or nightstand each time she wakes up.

• Peer pressure may encourage preschool-age children to break the habit at naptime while at school. Use this opportunity to encourage the elimination of a binky during naptime on weekends.

• Don’t put too much pressure on your child to pass up the binky. This may cause anxiety and can actually make it more difficult for your child to kick the habit. But, DO encourage every positive step in the process.

• Consider that sucking may occur when your child is feeling insecure. Comfort your child, address the stressor and try to resolve or redirect. Reward her when she avoids sucking during stressful situations.

• Ask your child’s dentist to talk with her while at six-month checkups. Believe it or not, for older toddlers and preschoolers, sometimes this is all it takes!

• When all else fails, you may want to consider the “Binky-Fairy”! Cuddle up with your child during a comfy, quiet, low-key time and break out your most creative skills to tell your child a story of the Binky-, Button- or Pacie-Fairy who collects pacifiers from children who are ready to be “big-girls” and “big-boys.” Let your child know that when she is ready, she can pack up her pacifiers to trade to the Fairy for a very special reward. Mention the Fairy on a regular basis—keep it fun, positive and low-pressure—and most importantly, let the decision about when she is ready be hers to make. You may be surprised how quickly your child is ready to make the trade!

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