Dear Dr. Mary and Lynn:
My three-year-old daughter’s pacifier is constantly dangling in her mouth no matter what she’s doing, but we just saw our dentist and he is insistent it has to go. I’m getting lots of pressure from other relatives too, but she falls asleep sucking it and seems to really need it. Should we go “cold turkey” and “get it over with” like the dentist recommends? Sara
Going cold turkey is like someone suddenly taking away your car keys. You don’t know how you’re getting home. Nor will your daughter know how to calm herself or fall asleep without her pacifier. So instead of stopping abruptly, set limits and teach her other ways to soothe and calm herself. For example, allow her to have it anytime she wants, as long as she is either lying down, or sitting on your lap. Soon she’ll get tired of stopping to do this. In the meantime, teach her to take deep breaths, drink fluids with a straw or sit quietly looking at books. And gently “nudge” asking her, “Is tonight a night you want to try falling asleep without your pacifier?” If she says, “No” then allow her to have it to fall asleep but “nudge” by saying, “Maybe tomorrow you’ll be ready to try.” And one day soon, she’ll surprise you and let you know that today is the day!
Question: We always wonder why it is parents seem so proud to get their child off the bottle or pacifier as young as possible? What’s the rush? Okay, so it’s the dentist. Do physical needs always trump emotional ones?