We go through all the scenarios: Should we use one or not? When should we introduce it? Which one should we use? How do I stop my baby from being addicted to it? How can we get rid of it before it causes major dental problems?
Three of our 4 babies have used one. I've become an advocate. Our 1-year-old Ivie just graduated from being a "binki baby" this week. I guess I'll dedicate this post to her! She loved her binki! It helped comfort her so many times, which in turn, helped me keep my sanity. And when the time came to let it go, she made it look super easy. Ivie, way to go!
I find myself offering binki advice quite often, so I thought I would record and share it here! As a disclaimer, I'm a mom offering my opinions, not a lactation specialist. And I may be little too explicit for some readers. Take it for what it's worth:
Deciding Whether or Not to Use One
I don't think there is a right or wrong to this one. It's up to the parents. If a baby is doing fine without it, why create a need? However, newborns have a need to suck. They get comfort from sucking. A nursing mother doesn't need to offer her breast for comfort in between feedings. That can get very painful and difficult to maintain. A new mother may think the baby is crying for food, but it may just want to suck. If you follow the guidelines for feeding times/amounts and your baby is still fussy in between, then a binki can really help. On the flip side, if you are losing your breastmilk and want to get more, allow your baby to suck for much longer than is needed and it will signal to your body to make more milk. You wouldn't want the use of a binki to slow down your milk production. It doesn't need to if you use it at the right times. If you just give it to a well-fed baby, as a way to get comfort before sleeping, then it shouldn't interfere with milk production.
When to Introduce the Binki
There are different opinions on this, and the biggest concern is nipple confusion. I let the nurses give my baby a binki in the hospital nursery at night so I can get good rest before returning home. I don't think this has caused nipple confusion for our babies. In the first couple of days, it's good to let the baby suck on the breast a lot, to order milk supply and for the baby to get all the colostrum it needs. However, if the mother is too sore, the binki can really help soothe the baby in between feedings so mother can heal. I personally think you don't want to wait too long before introducing the baby. I like to use it in the first week or so, before the baby is only used to the breast.
Finding the Right Binki
This is my favorite advice to share! For our first child, we used the bluish-greenish one from the hospital. I don't know how we survived all those months with that awful thing! It was terrible. It always fell out, because the nipple is so straight. Babies just can't keep it in very easily. We were always getting out of bed to pop it back in. Strike 1! The rubber was so nice and soft, but when it got dropped, we couldn't hear it. So we lost them ALL the time! Strike 2! And it doesn't connect very well to a clip. Strike 3! We'll never use one of those again.
There are many types of binkis, and you may need to try a few before finding the best fit. Our very favorite brand is Avent. The nipple is symmetrical, so there's no "right" way and "wrong" way to go in. It's stays in a newborn's mouth so much easier than the straight ones. We don't find ourselves getting up in the night as much to put the binki back in. It makes a good little click when it falls to the ground, so we rarely lose them. And it is easy to attach to a binki clip. I can't count how many moms I've known who thought their newborn didn't like binkis, but when I told them about Avent, they tried it and had success! I'm sure it's not for everyone, but if you don't know where to start, give Avent a try!
Don't Force It!
With our second child, she refused the hospital binki. My mom started buying us all sorts of brands to try, hoping she would like one of them. Grandma did her magic one day and she began taking one. But a couple months later, someone offered to console her during church one day. They continually forced the binki into her mouth against her will. From that day on, she never took it again. Their "help" was more of a hinderance. She is a strong-willed child! Knowing her personality now, I'm not surprised that bothered her. But that experience taught me that we shouldn't use a binki to exert power over an infant by shoving it into their mouth. And we shouldn't use it to ignore their cries (that's their mode of communication). If they accept it into their mouth and if it can console them, then it's great! If not, find another solution.
How Can I Keep My Baby From Becoming Addicted to the Binki?
I'm not a psychologist. But I use some common sense, and it seems to work. Newborn babies need a lot of sucking, so as long as they are well-fed, and the milk supply is good, I don't think you can overdo binki time. But after the first few months, it's not as necessary during awake time. Some binki babies tend to prefer their binki close by or in their mouth most of the time. However, that's not necessary, and it's probably not the best. Sure, they may fuss for it a bit when it's taken away, but remember that as the parent, you know what's best, and you can decide. They usually forget about it after a few seconds, once they find something else to explore.
I've found the easiest way to limit our binki time is just to keep the binki in the crib. When baby wakes up and gets lifted out, we try to pop out the binki and leave it there. We aren't perfect at this, but we tried not to give it to her unless she "needed" it. Sometimes we would give it to her out of habit, and then realize there was really no need at that time. Of course, when went out, I brought it along for when she gets fussy. At those times, I loved having it on a binki clip so we didn't lose it. There's nothing like the panic of trying to find a lost binki and wondering how you'll survive without it! Who wants a late-night emergency run the store to buy another binki? Keep a spare hidden for emergencies.
When and How to Get Rid of the Binki
This is important! No one plans to have their 3-year-old still using a binki (or 5-year-old for that matter), but it happens all too much. But as a parent, I know how hard it may seem to get rid of it! I read the best advice years ago, and I've found it to be absolutely true. Developmentally, the best time to wean a child from a binki and bottle is between 12-13 months old. There's something about that window of time that is easier. I think it is probably just as easy to stop using it before then, but after 13 months, it gets increasingly harder. Toddlers at this age are learning so rapidly and they are easily distracted by new things to explore. They are not old enough to say "binki" so they can't demand it like they will be able to in a few months. After 13 months, they grow increasingly attached.
I remember just dreading the day we took the binki away from our first child. I dreaded the hours of nighttime crying fits that would undoubtedly come. I wondered if it would persist for a few days, or a week. I worried about it for a month. I braced myself for a terrible week. When it actually happened, we were surprised by how incredibly easy it was to adjust! We knew at times she wanted it, but her cries were short-lived. After only a day or two, it was as if it never existed! The hardest part about it was bracing myself for it. Time after time, I've seen this same pattern. If you get rid of it before 13 months, it's not too traumatic.
I like to take it away starting in the morning (sometimes I plan to do it when we just get home from a trip, as if we accidentally left it there). They wake up one morning, and it's gone. First nap comes, and it doesn't exist. Falling asleep may be a little rough, but fatigue sets in, and sleep comes. The second nap is a little easier. Bedtime is even easier--they are getting this new routine down. The first night, I can expect a little fussiness, but that's short-lived. For us, it's usually a 30-day ordeal: 29 days of dread and worry, and 1 day of adjustment. Spread the word. It's like magic!