when to take things away from your child

I rarely ask for advice on this blog (although I'm always willing to take anyone's well-meaning advice, as long as they know that it's my right to take it or leave it), and maybe I'm not really asking for it now, either.  Maybe I'm just asking questions out loud.  Maybe if I write them out I'll be able to think them through and come to a conclusion.  But, seriously, if you read this blog and are a mom, please leave a comment to let me know any thoughts about the subject of taking things away from your child.

What do you mean, you might ask.  Well, the two I'm dealing with right now are the pacifier and the bottle.

I don't see the harm in either.

I do feel, however, that I'm sometimes judged when people see my 13 month old drinking from a bottle.  There's the issue of baby bottle decay.  Well, I've read a lot about that, and working for a dental office and having gone through dental assistant training, I've heard a lot about the subject.  From what I gather, the main issue with baby bottle decay is that it happens when a baby is given a bottle while they are in their crib, and allowed to sip right before bed or all night long, without getting their teeth brushed.

I did an experiment with Isaac yesterday.  I was determined to wean him off the bottle this week while I'm off from work.  Yesterday I gave him pediasure and formula in a sippy cup.  He drank about half as much as he usually does, and he was very cranky, clingy, demanding, and upset all day.  I thought he would be.  I didn't expect him to be a perfect child who would be fine going from three or four bottles a day to none.  I thought, "I'll be a good mom, I'll be strong.  Cold turkey for us."

That lasted a whole day and a 1/2.  Today I gave in and gave him a bottle.  He sucked it down and cried for more.  So instead of cold turkey, we're going to try 1 bottle a day (we only have the small bottles so it's technically 2, 6-8 oz of formula or pediasure).

Pacifiers.  Isaac doesn't have to have his unless he's taking a nap or going to sleep for the night.  If I give it to him during the day at all, it's because his teeth have been bothering him a lot, or he's fussy and nothing else I've tried seems to help.  Someone once asked me, "he's not going to be one of those two year old still sucking on a pacifier, is he?"  At the time I assured this person that, "no, no, we'll be done with it by then."

I think I was too quick to jump to the conclusion that Isaac will not be using a pacifier when he's 2.  Ideally, for me, he won't.  But, what if he does?  What's wrong with that?  I don't see anything wrong with that.  Who am I to take something away from him if he likes it.  It's comforting to him.  Why am I in such a hurry for him to grow up?

I found this article about pacifiers not being the cause of crooked teeth.  I found it here: http://parentsknow.state.mn.us/parentsknow/age1_2/tips/QAs/PKDEV_000890



My mother-in-law is very upset that my four-month-old uses a pacifier. She worries that we're making a sissy out of him and she says that it will give him crooked teeth. Should we be concerned?


Your mother-in-law is not alone in her concerns about your baby's use of the pacifier. Her point of view was very common a few years ago and is still shared by many people today. However, most child development specialists see little cause for worry when a baby uses a pacifier. As for the effect on your child's teeth, dentists say there is no evidence that pacifiers cause crooked teeth. Concerning the impact on your son's emotional development, rest assured that using a pacifier will do no harm and, in fact, probably will do him good.

The instinct to suck is very strong in nearly all babies, so strong that they often need much more sucking than they get through the feeding experience. Sucking is a great source of comfort to a baby, and a pacifier can provide an easy way for the baby to soothe herself at times when mom and dad are busy and not available to provide comfort. A baby's need to suck is often especially high when she is tired, not feeling well, cutting teeth, or is in an unfamiliar environment that makes her feel somewhat unsettled.

If you were to interfere with your baby's efforts to comfort himself, his need for the pacifier probably would become even more intense. But if your son is allowed to satisfy that need for comfort, he will gradually outgrow his need for the pacifier. The surest way to help your baby grow to be a strong, secure boy, is to show him that you respect his need to feel safe, comfortable, and satisfied now. As your son becomes increasingly sociable, as he learns to babble and make faces and play with others, as he begins to move around and explore the world around him, the pacifier will become less interesting to him. Of course, for many months he may still want the comfort the pacifier provides when he's sleepy and alone, but eventually he won't even need it then. He will develop new ways to feel calm and comforted-like snuggling under a favorite blanket, listening to grandma read a bedtime story, or hearing dad sing a lullaby. Keep in mind that no matter how young or how old we are, we all need comfort. By letting your child find comfort in his pacifier, you are showing him that his needs count.

A question-and-answer column with Dr. Martha Farrell Erickson of the University of Minnesota

Let me just say that the person who asked this question is not alone when it comes to other people being concerned about the way she chooses to raise her child.  Things like pacifiers, formula, bottles, breast feeding, when to potty train, when to start feeding solids, and other things like that are the parents decision!  Shame on anyone (except maybe a trusted pediatrician) who thinks they can tell the parents otherwise. It's hard enough being a parent without everyone telling you that you are doing this and that wrong.  Of course, if the person was harming the child, that's different.  But c'mon, a pacifier is going to turn a baby into a sissy?  Ha!

With the 1st birthday of Isaac I've been quick to think, ok, what can I take away from him now that he's not a baby anymore?  Well, he IS still a baby, and so what if I allow him to hang onto his baby comforts for another  6 months or a year? He'll only be a baby for a little while longer, I need to stop rushing it.


  1. Oh, I can relate to the plan to go cold turkey then realizing your little one isn't ready for that. We tried that with my daughter (a sleep-time thumbsucker) by taking away her "special blanket" that she used for naps and nighttime... I think she was 2 or 3. Our main reason was the teeth, which were getting pushed out (top) and pushed in (bottom) due to the thumb sucking. We came to a similar decision: she needs this for comfort and good sleep. She's little - why remove it yet? When she turned 4 we helped break the thumb sucking habit which was fairly easy because she was ready AND we didn't have to take away her special blanket to do it. And a bonus: her teeth straightened themselves out within a month! (I know you don't need any dental resources with your back ground & training, but in case you want to pass it along, I've found this Mom's Guide to have good tooth info & tips for caring for kids' teeth, infancy through teen years: http://www.1dental.com/moms-guide/) I am expecting my 3rd baby next month and after having 2 thumb-suckers I've been hoping this will be a pacifier baby. I really appreciated your post because it reminded me that as much as I think a pacifier baby will be easy to break of the habit, he will still be a baby who needs comfort, and like you I won't be willing to just rip it away. You are right. They are only babies for a little while.

  2. Thank you for your comment Emily! I appreciate your encouragement and how you shared your story! It's nice to know I'm not alone in this, and that eventually my son WILL be ready to give up those baby comforts! Congratulations on the new baby!

  3. How many 5, 10, 20 year olds do you see walking around with a bottle or a pacifier? none! You are right, he is STILL a baby, and it's is perfectly ok to let him have a bottle and a pacifier. I still have Nikko on those too. I have tried giving him a sippy as well, and he didn't drink hardly any. I thought, "he is just not ready". No matter how young or old your kid is, people will ALWAYS have an opinion; and most likely, it will probably always annoy the heck out of you. You just gotta get to a point where you can smile and nod and then just do your own thing and be happy with your decisions. I always think to myself, "they had a chance to be parents and do things how and when they wanted; now it is my turn. who cares if I am doing it differently; my kid is happy, healthy and thriving - that's what matters!" Keep up the good work!

  4. Thanks Cass! I know you know the feeling :) I appreciate your motherly expertise!!

  5. You're the mom -- you're in charge! What people think about your decisions doesn't matter when it comes down to it...you and Andrew are the ones God gave the responsibility to so it's up to you. There should never be pressure to change something that's working just fine, as long as it's not evil and binkies and bottles are NOT evil. It sounds like you already have good boundaries in place when it comes to using them and that's the important and wise thing. Plus, 13 months is still a baby and I don't think it would seem weird at all anyway! I say if you really want to switch to a sippy, just let him practice for fun throughout the day frequently with water or watered down juice while still letting him use a bottle for the times he really needs to drink the important stuff. Eventually he'll become a pro at the sippy and start wanting that more. I love you! Don;t let anyone pressure you! (and don't pressure yourself!)

  6. Thanks sweet sister! I value your advice and wisdom!


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