Ideas for Quitting the Binky — And Preparing for Withdrawal

binkyOh my, this year has kicked off with the mighty roar of a lion at our house!  My husband and I have a new, fierce resolve to rise above all the challenges that nailed us in ’09.  And with this intense, “let’s make it happen” energy, there’s been a trickle-down impact on our sweet 3 year-old who was perfectly content with the status quo.

You see, one of the things we determined simply wasn’t working for us anymore was The Binky. We officially reached our limit in supporting and enabling the addiction and decided New Year’s Eve was the night to crack it and start the new year out “fresh.”

Ha ha ha.

Can’t really call the morning of January 1 particularly fresh after the crying, screaming, thrashing, begging anger that dominating the entire night. My husband described it as feeling like a scene from Trainspotting or Basketball Diaries.

And yet my intent all along was to discover a way to gently guide my daughter to choose giving up binkies herself and avoid a traumatic experience!

But alas, I reached the end of my tolerance and patience for her to make this choice on her own.  I began talking to her about it gently six months ago, about how now that she’s a big girl, she doesn’t need them anymore, they’re designed for babies, it will be nice to gather all of hers now and give them away to a tiny baby….

But for months, I’ve gotten the same basic response:  “I still want my binkies Mommy. I don’t want to give them away.”

On FaceBook shortly after her birthday, I had collected several great suggestions from friends for weaning the binky.  Yet I found myself resisting going forward with any of the ideas because in my mind, no matter what the the trick or the ritual or the story — ultimately I knew she’d still have to go through the agony of not having them anymore.

I felt like such a co-dependent enabler!

I might have gone on enabling addiction like that indefinitely — but I have been experiencing a marked advancement in Sadie’s emotional and intellectual development that has me feeling worked over more days than not with what feels like non-stop questions and intense demands.  I hear this is pretty standard between age 3 and 3 1/2 and can be significantly more challenging than the “terrible 2’s”.  Definitely true in our case!

So I revisited the binky-weaning ideas shared by my friends after Sadie’s 3rd birthday:

1) Lose them and make a ritual of singing a song when she wants them.

2) Toss them over a bridge together (maybe a bridge that overlooked a landfill…..?)

3) Rely on your dentist to be the one to lure them away; some dentists are known for giving prizes in exchange for toddlers handing over their binkies.

4) Talk to your toddler about how the binky is changing the shape of his or her mouth and explain that the time has come to let it go and that you’ll be throwing them away in the morning.

5) Wrap up the binkies in a gift bag and take to the hospital to give back to the Binky Fairy who gives them to babies.

6) Create a burial ceremony of the binky with her in the back yard.

7) Snip off the ends of all binkies in the house.

We went with the last option because we hoped this would at least foster the perception of self determination.  My parents did this with me and had been suggesting it for a while too.

Initial scene when she first discovered her binkies in their new trimmed state:

Sadie:  “HEY!  There’s a hole in my binky!!!”

Mark:  “Hmmmmmmm”.

Sadie:  “I don’t like this!  I want another binky!”

Mark:  “Sorry honey, they are all like this.”

I give Mark five stars for honest, gentle parenting  of Sadie through this process.  I cracked and went down story-telling lane when she asked me how her binkies got holes in them.

I said, “I think because you’re so big now that you finally out-grew them and they’re just worn out and starting to get holes.”  (jeez… lame, right?….. I felt terrible for making up a lie — which of course, she bought.)

The first night was by far the worst.  By the third night, she wanted nothing to do with a binky.  She’s had lots of emotional break-downs in between and lacks the perspective to connect the dots between her feelings and what’s missing.  One of my friends said it’s not uncommon for toddlers to experience sleep disturbances for 2-3 weeks after weaning the binky.

Ultimately, if I could do it all over again, I would have done this six or nine months ago.  I have read so many stories of 2 year-olds gleefully participating in giving their binkies to the Binky Fairy or getting excited to be part of some other planned ritual.  They’ve had that much less time for habituation!

Thankfully we’re on the binky-free path now. Whew! And there’s no turning back now!  I welcome ideas for supporting your child through the challenges of binky withdrawal — with the exception of lying down with her until she falls asleep which is just not feasible for us now.

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8 Responses to “Ideas for Quitting the Binky — And Preparing for Withdrawal”

  1. amy says:

    oh my… i had no idea it could be so intense! congrats to you for getting to the other side of it.

    despite all the efforts of the grandparents and the hospital, my little one never took to a binky. i’m more concerned about weaning before he goes off to college…

    • Ha ha ha! I love it! Well, reading Sonya’s post recently about Cavanaugh self-weaning at 3 is pretty cool. Did you see that? Such sweet, vulnerable stories she’s been sharing this week.

  2. Zelinda says:

    We had to find a creative way to get rid of our 18 month old’s binky at the end of December because he was getting ready to start Montessori school on Jan 4th and they don’t allow binkies. Naveen used his only while sleeping.

    We went on a shopping trip at our local consignment shop and found a toy Naveen really liked (it was a tent). We told him that he had to give the binky to the store owner to pay for the tent. We were so surprised when he handed it over without hesitation. The store owner secretly put it in a bag for us, we paid for our items, and left.

    That night Naveen quietly wailed “Bikkkkkyyyy, bikkkkkyyyy” at bedtime. It sounded like he was mourning the binky. I felt so sad. But he forgot about it within a couple of days and hasn’t used it since. 🙂

    • Yea!! That is a great story Zelinda! I wish we had started earlier for Sadie. The addiction just set in so deep into her pores. Waiting until 3 1/4 was a bit too long. But everything happens when it happens I guess. Like Naveen, her first two nights without were hard, and then she had about a week of sleep disturbances that she couldn’t attribute back to binky thankfully, and now she’s going down easy without it. Whew!

  3. Mom says:

    So glad to see that Sadie is sleeping without Binky now!

  4. Bella says:

    I was having major problems with my son’s binky use; well actually it was more along the lines of a binky addiction!! My friend absolutely raved about the cut method, and all of the psychology behind it. She found it on , which is great that it was also free. We went with it and OMGosh… worked so beautifully for my son with NO tantrums, not even one! Thank you God. Five days later he did not want anything to do with his binky. What a relief it was to all of us to finally be done with those darn binkies. Highly recommended! I am also interested in others experiences…. Bella

  5. Hilary says:

    So glad to hear your weaning went well. I on the other hand, am having a horrible time, still a MONTH later. My daughter is 23 months old and I weaned a month ago one night when we really did lose the binky. I explained what happened and she accepted that it was just gone. Going to sleep is not too bad, but when she wakes she can’t soothe herself back to sleep. She screams this brand-new, blood-curdling scream and won’t be soothed by rocking, me sleeping on the floor by her crib or even coming into our bed anymore. (At one point in the last 4 weeks all of these things worked, but no more). I am at my wits end – the pediatrician suggested benedryl as a harmless temporary option while it passed but it is NOT passing!!! I am finally at the point of popping in some earplugs and letting her cry it out. It is really the only option.
    I knew she was sensitive, but didn’t realize how bad this would be. If I had known, I would have let her keep it until college 😉 Any possible suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks! -Hilary

    • Hilary –
      Goes to show how tired I am tonight — just wrote you an email with thoughts on weaning the breast, not the binky which you’re dealing with. It’s up to you, but I think you can safely (on the dental front) let a child keep a binky until they are 2 1/2 or 3. When they’re a bit older they’re in a better position to talk through “graduating” from binky.

      Our last strategy of cutting off a bit of the end little by little ultimately resulted in her not liking it and choosing not to have it herself.

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