Parents

From bribes to trades: 10 ways to break your child's pacifier habit

When my son was 3 years old, I was out of ideas on how to get him to kick the binky habit. Then one day around Christmastime, Jack began asking me questions about the good ole’ Elf on the Shelf.

One question: Are there baby elves at the North Pole? Ding-Ding-Ding. I told him there were, indeed. The next morning his Elf had moved to the windowsill and was holding this note:

Dear Jack,

Please collect and send all of your binkies to the North Pole on Christmas Eve. There’s a shortage and the baby elves won’t stop crying. Help!

Love, Santa

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Baby with pacifier.

A note from the big guy in red!? Jack happily gave up his binkies on Christmas Eve, setting them out next to homemade cookies and milk in a snowflake mug. The next morning, they were gone and Jack was busy playing with new toys. We never talked about the binkies again. Here, other parents share their stories of ousting the pacifier for good:

1. Send it on an airplane ride

“I got my son, who was obsessed with his pacifier and called it a ‘sus,’ to say goodbye by telling him his sus did an amazing job being his best buddy for 2½ years, but now he needed to go home to his mommy sus, because she missed him. We put it in a box and I told him I was taking it to the airport and sending him back home. He was sad for a few days, but then started telling everyone how his sussy missed his mom and had to go home and he was proud of him! Every time he sees a plane he talks about it.” Yussie Amiri, Montreal, Quebec

2. Cut the tip off

“We got rid of Caden's ‘wubby’ after he started chewing the top and bit into the rubber. We were afraid he was going to choke on it, so we cut the tip off. He then told us ‘wubby was broke,’ so he didn't want it anymore.” — Bethany Agrati, West Milford, New Jersey

3. Trade it for something

“Gianna called her pacifier ‘baba.’ We told her that the baba fairy was going to come and take them away and leave her presents in return. After much crying she agreed. We put the babas in a box and left them outside her bedroom door when she went to bed. When she woke up the next morning, the babas were gone and there were all sorts of little presents waiting for her.” — Ashley Liguori, Totowa, New Jersey

4. Go cold turkey

“My husband threw the pacifier out the window on a five-hour car ride home from our lake house. Honestly, I was scared and thinking, noooooo don't throw it… Our 9-year-old counted our 2-year-old saying, ‘I want my nene’ 98 times before he started crying and fell asleep. He thinks it’s with the fishes at the lake." — Jacki Phillips, Itasca, Illinois

5. Season it with something safe (no hot sauce!)

“I dipped it in minty toothpaste. My 3-year-old said, ‘Something is pinching my tongue.’ I told him the pacifiers must be rotten. We tried all seven and, gee, the same thing." — Josh Lucas, Deerfield Beach, New Jersey

6. Bribe your child

“His older brother (by 2½ years) bribed him (on his own) with a piece of Halloween candy, every morning after a night without it! I was shocked that it was that easy!” — Jennifer Phillips Richmond, Virginia

7. Tuck them away for safe and special keeping

“To rid my daughters of their pacifiers, we took them to Build A Bear and they put their favorite binky inside a bear. They are 8 and 6 and they still feel around the bear for it.” — Laura Mirabella, Garden City, New York

8. Just act oblivious

“We were in the process of unpacking at our new house and could not find one of the ten we had (in every color and design from basketballs to animal print) at nap time. So we just ignored the fact, that he was taking a nap without it, then kept up with it. He forgot about it. My advice? Be strategically sneaky!” —Rachel Hopkins, Saginaw, Michigan

9. Mourn the paci

“I took my 4-year-old (yes, 4!) outside to the garden and we buried them in the dirt. I gave a little speech and we said a prayer. Jayden tells people his paci is in heaven.” — Kelly Conrad, Belmar, New Jersey

10. Be creative

“I let my 2-year-old paint with them. He dipped all the pacifiers in non-toxic, washable paint and made art on a huge piece of paper I rolled out on the kitchen floor. When he was done, they were all colored and yucky. We just had to throw them out and buy a new one. We never bought a new one.” — Kim Copperstone, Columbus, Ohio

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