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?
My concern would be that, if you take away the binky before he's ready, he may start sucking his thumb. Thumb-sucking is REALLY hard to stop, as you can't just leave his thumb in his bedroom when he goes to school, or the mall, or a playdate!
I wouldn't worry overly much about the dental/orthodontic effects, as long as he's done with the binky before he gets any adult teeth. No, this isn't ideal, but thumb-sucking could cause a lot more damage, and is much harder to stop even after the adult teeth start to emerge.
I assume his baby sister is now home from the NICU and things are settling down at home? Chances are that he'll stop the binky all on his own within the next few months.
Ruth, single mommy to 3 quasi-adults
I have a thumb sucker (2yo) still nursing and will nurse to sleep and suck her thumb to self soothe if she stirs at night or when she's awake but tired. I'm not incredibly worried as it's not a constant thing, just when tired and it does come out while she's asleep. Oral fixations do have a big connection to vertebral imbalances so seeking out a good chiropractor can help immensely. When you think about it, many of these behaviors (sucking, chewing) all serve to relieve pressure in the neck/head areas. Teeth grinding is another one - something I did as a kid and had horrible jaw clicking as well. Seeing a chiropractor stopped both of those things. Also, tongue ties can be an underlying cause to these issues as well, and so chiropractic must be kept up to avoid the body falling back into an imbalance. So before assuming that it's entirely behavioral, you might want to consider these things as a starting point - and if you correct an underlying issue if one does exist, then no need to go cold turkey on the paci because he may just give it up if any pain or discomfort is relieved another way.
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