My son is turning 4 this February, and I'm worried about his pacifier use. He has it for bed only, and on a rare occasion that he's upset he'll put it in his mouth. He doesn't use it outside of his room, and nobody aside from those of us who see him at night are even aware of his use. I thought that he would eventually taper off the usage, and most of the time in the night the pacifier will fall out of his mouth, so we figured this gradual change was occurring. We thought he could perhaps use some "encouragement" in giving up the habit and told him that on his 4th birthday the "binky fairy" would come and take his binkies, but leave him something else. Okay, so now I'm worried.
His dentist has told us he must give this up soon as his teeth are already starting to shift from this usage. Also, his lip will chap and he'll have a "binky rash" of sorts between his bottom lip and chin which is quite painful for him. So we know he needs to give this up for his health. On the other hand, emotionally, he seems very attached. He had a rough year with his beloved little sister in NICU, so he's a bit needy. It breaks my heart to make him give up something he derives so much comfort from. Also, he seems to be very oral - the things he enjoys most are food, his pacifier, and he'll even put things in his mouth to test them out (ice cubes, etc.) Yes, he was also a biter. But that's another story.
So my attachment mother's heart says to just let him be. Let him have his binky, perhaps limit it a bit more, but don't deny him the comfort he gets from it. On the other hand his health is also a top priority. So I'm looking for alternatives? Does anyone know of something we could replace this with? What has worked for you all for getting your child off the binky gently?