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Binky removal causes sleep crisis: What to do?

Have you ever gone through the great binky guilt? I know it's common, and many pediatricians have strict guidelines about when pacifiers should be tossed. Can you offer any advice to Stephanie in NE Portland? It sounds like she's been extremely creative and needs more help!

We're in the middle of a binky induced sleep crisis and I'm looking for some help.  A week and a half ago we took away our two year old son's pacifiers and now he is refusing to nap or go to sleep in his own crib.  This is a child who has slept (easily) in his crib since coming home from the hospital. 

At my son's two year appt my pediatrician said we should get rid of the binkies before March when our second child is born.  He said if we didn't, then our son would never give them up.  For more than a month we restricted binky use to naps and bedtime only.  Then last Saturday (a week and a half ago) we cut the tops off of the binkies.  I expected this would be a gradual way of getting him to dislike and ditch his binkies.  Instead he totally rejected them instantly and we had a cold turkey situation on our hands.
I tried to do this as gently as I could.  I bought books to read to my son about giving up the binky to prepare him and we have been talking about it for awhile.  Several days after cutting the tops off of the binkies my son and I decorated a box and left it for the Binky Fairy.  He received an IKEA train set the next day from the Fairy.
My son does not have a lovie or a blanket that he is attached to (although we're trying).  I tried to be very sensitive to his distress the first few days (week).  I didn't expect him to cry it out.  I allowed him not to nap or to fall asleep on the couch.  I rocked him to sleep and when that didn't work let him sleep in bed with us.
Whether he falls asleep in the car, on the couch, or in my arms the second his body touches the crib he wakes up, stands up, and starts crying.  Last night we let him cry to sleep for the first time in more than a year.  He cried for 30 mins before falling asleep.  Thankfully he did sleep all night.  Today he fell asleep in the car and 15 mins later when I tried to put him in bed he was up screaming.  I let him cry it out for 45 minutes and he still did not lay down and sleep.  That was around noon.  It's now 3:13 and we're on nap attempt #3.  So far he's not crying.  I'm playing music in his room and I hear him in there playing.
I really don't think he's ready not to nap.  This is a child who was napping 2-3 hours and still sleeping 11 hours at night.  Most importantly I'm not ready for him not to nap.  I really need the break.  Especially with #2 on the way.  I expected this to be a nightmare for a few days, or even a week...but still!?!?!?


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Stick with it! If theres anything Ive learned with my son its routine. As soon as I waiver from something like bottles at bedtime he quickly expects it and we're back to square one. I know its rough, and I couldnt imagine
being pregnant on top of it- but I would say to seriously stick with it. Would he go for the idea of putting if somewhere for safe keeping like with a stuffed animal or in a pocket, so long as its not in the mouth? Or replace it with a snazzy night light or twilight turtle lamp? I think youre doing great and on the right track, its just going to take some adjusting for both parties.

I don't know if this would work for your situation, but what about moving him out of his crib, to break that connection between crib and binkie? You could tell him now he's big enough to go without the binkie, he's big enough to be out of his crib. You could put the mattress on the floor if you're not ready for a big bed, or get a toddler sized bed. Just an idea. Good luck to you.

The thing that stuck out for me about this was "If he didn't give it up now, he never would". Never? Really? So, his ped thinks he's going to be trotting off to the school bus, binky in mouth? Or perhaps taking his SATs...? Having a new baby means, for many toddlers, the fear of being replaced. Many toddlers firmly refuse to potty train, give up bottles, binkies or other relics of their own baby-ness during this time. I say, let him have the binky and get some sleep. When he feels secure that his growing up does not mean giving up his place in the family, he will jump on the "Binkies are for babies, and I am a big boy" band wagon. I know plenty of kids who used their Binkies to sleep right up to their third birthday and I promise, their psyches are undamaged and their mommies have not been sent to bad mommy jail.

Oh, how I feel your pain. We just recently went through this....with our 3 1/2 year old. The reason we gave it up, other than the fact that it had been ruling our lives for 3 years, is our dentist told us that after age 3 it is really important to discourage thumb sucking and pacifiers. It's either that or braces later on.

We explained that the "Woobie Fairy" was going to come and leave a special gift. We gave our daughter a week's notice and made the switch as we had explained. And, we stuck to it. And, it was really hard. No more naps, and night-time became very difficult. The main issue was that she didn't know how to fall asleep without her woobie. So, we lengthened the night-time routine; more books and stories and cuddling. We also let her look at books or play with toys in her bed after lights-out. It has worked, but it took over a month for us to adjust to life without the pacifier.

We are now expecting a second child, and won't be using a "woobie."

Oh, how I feel your pain. We just recently went through this....with our 3 1/2 year old. The reason we gave it up, other than the fact that it had been ruling our lives for 3 years, is our dentist told us that after age 3 it is really important to discourage thumb sucking and pacifiers. It's either that or braces later on.

We explained that the "Woobie Fairy" was going to come and leave a special gift. We gave our daughter a week's notice and made the switch as we had explained. And, we stuck to it. And, it was really hard. No more naps, and night-time became very difficult. The main issue was that she didn't know how to fall asleep without her woobie. So, we lengthened the night-time routine; more books and stories and cuddling. We also let her look at books or play with toys in her bed after lights-out. It has worked, but it took over a month for us to adjust to life without the pacifier.

We are now expecting a second child, and won't be using a "woobie."

Oh, how I feel your pain. We just recently went through this....with our 3 1/2 year old. The reason we gave it up, other than the fact that it had been ruling our lives for 3 years, is our dentist told us that after age 3 it is really important to discourage thumb sucking and pacifiers. It's either that or braces later on.

We explained that the "Woobie Fairy" was going to come and leave a special gift. We gave our daughter a week's notice and made the switch as we had explained. And, we stuck to it. And, it was really hard. No more naps, and night-time became very difficult. The main issue was that she didn't know how to fall asleep without her woobie. So, we lengthened the night-time routine; more books and stories and cuddling. We also let her look at books or play with toys in her bed after lights-out. It has worked, but it took over a month for us to adjust to life without the pacifier.

We are now expecting a second child, and won't be using a "woobie."

I agree with e ... it is kind of ridiculous for the doctor to say he would never give it up if he didn't now!

Neither of my kids would take a pacifier so I don't have a lot of advice there. I will say that the doctor is not totally off base. My partner's sister loved her's and learned to talk around it. The first day of kindergarten her mom had to bribe her to get her to not take it to school.

I was a finger sucker - I sucked all the way through my elementary school years. My finger is permanently disfigured from the sucking. Not until I was getting braces to repair the damage to my teeth did I finally give it up.

When we took the binks away from my son at 3yrs, we had to drive him to sleep for a few days. It gave him the confidence in knowing that he DID go to sleep and he woke up in his crib without a binks. After a few days and no more driving he wanted food in his bed, so I gave him a small bowl with a few cheerios in it. This started a routine of a few cheerios at night and soon we fell out of that habit and into reading/looking at books or playing with 1 or 2 cars in bed. We are in that stage now and it is going just fine. Those first few weeks is tough, but now he is 3.5yrs and hasn't asked for it in months.
Oh, and when he did ask for a binks those first few weeks, we just laughed and said "no silly, remember you gave them to the binky fairy." It worked for us. I think the best advise I can give you is to drive or stroll your child to sleep to give them some confidence.

also, my son quit naping when we took the binks away, except in the car. that's just the way it goes sometimes.

You have my sympathy! While I think your ped was probably off-base, now that you've gone ahead with it, I wouldn't recommend backtracking.

We binky-weaned our 2.5 yo daughter about 6 months ago, using the Binky Fairy method. It was hell for about 3 days, but she adjusted fairly quickly (and started napping again!). I think it helped that she was at an age where she could follow the simple logic behind the Binky Fairy theory.

We were pretty firm, and just let her cry it out - we knew that if we replaced the binky with something else (like sleeping in our bed), then that something else would become the new crutch. But our girl is extremely strong-willed, so I'm not saying that's the right approach for you.

Hang in there- you will all get through this, and soon you'll look back and wonder what all the fuss was about!

We just did this recently, with our 2-year old. She was a solid nap & bedtime binky user. We gave the binkies to the Binky Fairy, and even at that young age, she understood that the binkies were for babies, and she's a big girl!

It's probably unpopular here, but I highly recommend reading the Ferber book, just for some background info on sleep associations and how that all works. Sleeping on you or in another location will become the new sleep association that you'll just have to battle once you're ready for him to start sleeping in his crib again.

We let her cry it out, while checking & consoling at regular intervals, per the Ferber method. The first week was the hardest; she didn't take a nap at ALL on that first day, and I think it kind of just kicked her into enough sleep deprivation mode that she crashed out pretty easily that first night. It took a fair amount of crying for about a week, but it's gotten progressively better since we ditched the binkies 2 months ago.

Now, she just crashes out like the good old days when you'd pop a binky into her mouth. I just lay her down in her crib, tell her I love her, and let her go to sleep.

Good luck! Definitely pick a method, make sure your partner is on board, and stick with it.

Just do what feels right for you and your family-Im all for binkys at naps and bedtime.My 1st child gave them up when she was ready.Go buy a binky and let your kid get some sleep!

Do you know anyone who is having a new baby? My son was about 2 and a friend of ours was pregnant and about to have her baby---so, we told him that we had to give the pacifier to the new baby so the new baby wouldn't cry. We put it in an envelope and addressed it to the new baby and left it on the front porch for the "mailman" to pick it up and take it to the new baby. I know...it sounds simple...but it really worked for him. He got it, he understood that we weren't just taking it from him, that someone else needed it more and we replaced it with a little blankie...that he still sleeps with every night. Plus, I think part of it was his decision and he got that. Just a thought! Good Luck!

I agree with MamaRC about not backtracking now that your son hasn't had the binky for over a week. If the binky comes back now I think you'll have an even harder time later when you try to wean him from it. The binky fairy came for our daughter's binkies when she was almost 3.75 yrs and I rather wish we had done it earlier, but oh well, we didn't want to take it away right before or after a new baby, etc. She had a very hard time getting to sleep for a few nights and then it got better although I'd say falling asleep was tough for her for a few months--not horrible, and not all the time, but she didn't fall asleep right away like she used to. Could be that she was ready to give up the nap too and that kept her awake later.

Sounds like your son is not ready to do without a nap, so I'd just stick with the normal routine religiously, enthusiastically confirm his big boy status outside of bed, and clearly let him know that it's time to sleep and that he does know how to sleep without the binky.

Funnily, although our daughter was completely and totally addicted to her binky from birth, our son would never accept one at all.

There is a lot of advice up here already, but let me just say - I've walked in your shoes. My first thought - who the heck is your doctor - won't ever give them up?? Really?? My daughter was much like your son - never really took to any lovie - her lovies were her binkies. We tried everything, including enduring some sleepless nights. All along the way, both my doc and my dentist said - no harm, no foul - she'll outgrow it. So my need to ban the binky was coming from peer pressure. Finally I just said screw it and I stopped torturing her. Our second was born when my daughter was just shy of 3. By 3 1/2 she started asking about the binky fairy again and we slowly gave them up. She would put out 2 binkies for the fairy and wa-la - the next day there was a small gift. Finally she gave up the last two and we haven't looked back. I felt much better about how we ended up doing it - when she was ready emotionally and mentally to give them up - than going by some arbitrary timeline. By 3 1/2 she could really understand risk and reward and got into the whole fairy thing - I cannot say the same about her at age 2. For me, I was really tormented taking away her one security item right at the same time that we were introducing a sibling into the mix which would ultimately make her feel less stable. Go with your gut. They do outgrow the binky, and in the words of my dentist, there is nothing good 'ol orthodontia can't fix.

ps - we have been sure to limit binky usage with no. 2 so we can avoid the same path with her - lesson learned (at my expense and not at the expense of my daughter's emotional health).

Good luck!!

Its interesting that people think that you should give up the binkys as soon as possible. On the last post-weaning-its all about how long you can nurse your child.I think a 2,3,or 4 year olds nursing is probably for comfort than for milk-why shouldnt you comfort your child with a binky?

I'm going through the same thing right now. My daughter is 20 months old and we're trying to limit the binky use to naps and bedtime, but the more I try to limit it, the more she seems to want it. It's so hard to know what to do.

I had a similar situation. This is a good opportunity to start 'Quiet Time.' They can nap if they're tired, but otherwise they play in their rooms. We had special bins that we would get out for Quiet time (leap pads, puzzles, games/toys), and we'd set the timer and practice. It took a lot of redirecting/modeling, but it was worth it. Now my 6 and 4 year olds love their quiet time, and I get an hour to myself.
We waited until 3 to say goodbye to the binkies - I wanted my oldest to still have her bink when the new baby came for added comfort. Didn't seem to hurt. BUT, now that you've started the process, I'd stick with it! Good luck!

Our son hadn't slept without the binky since he was 2 days old - we tried to take the binky away at age 2 and it was really traumatic.
We decided he wasn't ready and gave it back to him and then at age 3, we felt he was ready (the whole big kid thing means a lot more to a 3 year old than a 2 year old). Taking it away (with lots of talking about it first and a few little gifts daily after) went really smoothly and his sleeping didn't even get interrupted. I recommend giving the binky back. There's nothing wrong with a 2 yr old to still need and be able to have the comfort that a pacifier provides to some children....And I don't think your ped should have been so adamant about it!

I think your pediatrician was probably trying to save you a fortune in orthodontist bills. There is nothing wrong with comfort, but the palate can be deformed by excessive binky use. Somebody once told me that less than an hour a day shouldn't be harmful. So, if your child sleeps sucking the binky all night, you really did have to cold turkey it. If he just falls asleep sucking it, then spits it out for the rest of the night, maybe you could sneak it out of the crib after he falls asleep.

I sucked my thumb until I was 10-my teeth are perfectly straight without braces.

I have a great pediatric dentist and he was very clear - binky use, however much, won't do any damage to the formation of the jaw, mouth, etc. until around age 5 - that's right, age 5! If you kid needs it for comfort, don't you want to comfort your kid? I like to imagine someone telling me to give up something I rely on cold turkey, never to be seen again - like say my morning latte - now that really gets me upset and I am an adult with the mental capacity to fully understand what I am giving up and why. Now imagine a 2 y.o. My peds also gave some good advice - he said to me "for your child, the binky is like a blankie or a stuffed animal. I wouldn't tell a parent of a child who is attached to his/her blankie that they have to give it up at an arbitrary age, so I am not going to tell you when to force your child to give up the binky." Sage advice. As a mom of 2, I will also add that the transition from only child to having a sibling can be rough enough. Give your kid a break and approach the binky issue after he feels confident and comfortable with his new sib. That's my two cents for what its worth. I agree with the other post that on the "weaning" post we are all for kids breast feeding well past two - and in my opinion that is really for comfort and bonding of the child, not nutrition or immunity. While I support a mama's right to breastfeed as long as they want, I also support the little one having whatever other soothing item it is as well.

WOW! Thank you ladies for all of your comments and support!! I think the same day I emailed Urban Mamas (and anyone else I knew for help) I bumped into a neighbor. She just had her second child and several months before the baby was born they took away her daughter's pacifier with the same result. She said the nap strike lasted 2 weeks and her daughter (at 2.5) is back to sleeping and napping great. Amazingly two weeks to the day that we took away the binkys my son went back to napping.
I'm glad we got rid of the binky...although the process really stinks. I will probably give baby #2 a pacifier, but like many of you said I'll wean much sooner.
Thank you again!! It was so touching to read all of your comments and support!

Just stick with it. We recently went through this with our 18 month old. We went cold turkey. The first night she she screamed for 2 hours and the next night it was 20 minutes. You just have to stay strong. Also since we stopped the pacifier she only takes one nap. I didn't think she was ready, but apparently she was. It also makes it easier at bed time because by that time she is tired. Having her play more during the day made her too tired to care about her pacifier at bedtime. I think you just need to let him cry it out. It was the toughest things I have had to do but it worked.

Wow, lotsa info. This is one of the few sites where parents didn't claim it only took 3 days and all was right with the world again. I was starting to think it was just me. I had my two year old give up his binkie 6 days ago. He has only napped 3 of the six days and going to bed each night is difficiult at best (I am letting him cry it out to no avail at nap time, can't let your baby cry it out longer than the nap would be! At night it is actually better than nap time.) I have a call into my pediatrician who suggested we stop binky use asap as it was definitely changing the shape of his mouth and going cold turkey was the best method. So far, it has been extremely hard. He is so crabby from not napping. He is not asking for his binky, he just can't seem to soothe himself to sleep. Baths, reading stories, trying to get him to choose a different lovey (his binky was his only tru lovey), nothing is working. I'm interested to see what my Doctor says, but since he has accepted that the binky is gone and that seems to be okay with him, the real problem is finding out how to help him fall asleep without it.

We are going through the same thing but our situation is almost unbareable and we are not sure what to do. WE NEED HELP PLEASE. My daughter is just 2, and was only using the binki for falling asleep while in crib, in stroller & in car. She started to get too dependent on the binki & it was constantly falling out of the crib & she was crying & waking up. We had to get up in the middle of the night 1-2 times each night. We had enough and decided to go with the binki fairy gave it to a new baby & got her a big girl present. She had always been a great sleeper, always fell asleep in the car, stroller, 3 hour napper, 12 hour a night sleeper. The story worked but the first 2 days she wouldn't nap & sleeping was horriable. Wouldn't sleep, screamed many times at night. Then another problem began. She is a very tall, highly independent & willfull 2 year old. We believe in tough love. We were all set to let her cry it out, no matter how long (withn reason). Then, at 4am after waking for a 3rd time, after about 10 mins of screaming, she decided to climb out of her crib (she had fallen out once a few months back but never did it again). Then we continued to watch her on the monitor and she climbed back in to the crib while screaming. She then climbed out again, then back in. We were horrified and didn't know what to do. How do we possibly let her cry it out if we can not contain her. On day two, she started getting sick. The bed thing continued at each nap & bedtme. We would go in, tell her it's dangerous to climb out, and leave the room. She would just continue to do it. At naptime she would just tear the room up. By day four, she screamed for 4 hours almost straight (I took her out and into my bed after about an hour or so and she still continued to scream, I couldn't comfort her at all), and then was saying her teeth hurt. Then a little while later said her eye hurts (whch she had been complaining about for two days already, her father and I both had pink eye very badly on top of all of this and we thought maybe she was getting it, the pink eye came along with a nasty virus for both of us). Then she said her ear hurt and started pulling on her ear. I called the doctor at 4am and they advised me to give Motrin & bring her in in the morning. 3 hours of sleep for both of us all night (my husband was away on business, lucky me). Turns out she had a nasty ear infection and her ear drum ruptured. Crazy, poor thing. Doctor said after it ruptures, the pain gets much better. So, back to sleep. Today is one week with no binki, she is totally over the binki but still can not seem to fall asleep on her own. She used to always sleep within 5 mins. We would go in, kiss and tuck, give binki and her bear, turn on music and leave. She would maybe cry for a second if at all, then go right to sleep. We are at our wits end. She is screaming and screaming and won't sleep. It is taking us at least an hour to get her to sleep at naptime and at least an hour or so at bedtime. She is trying to make any excuse all of the sudden to not sleep. Drink, potty, book, rub back, etc... Nothing she ever in the past asked for at bedtime. She is also still waking up in the middle of the night crying and trying to stay up. At least last night she only got up once. At naptime today, we pulled out our travel bed which is actually a small tent (Peapod) and she is use to sleeping in it and we can contain her in it. She still cried a little but then mostly played with the zippers on it and then fell asleep a half hour later. One theory is that maybe all along she has been sick or started to get sick very early on in the removal of the binki. But now it's over 48 hours on meds, no more fever and she still won't sleep. Her father and I are still batteling this nasty virus and pinkeye and need some sleep. Please, some advice would be so helpful. Will this ever get better? Is this normal? She does go to daycare 2 days a week to a very reputable place but this sleep problem makes me worried that maybe someone is doing something to her at school or something? I am getting crazy thoughts. It is horriable. I don't want to think the worst but it's so hard to when your child is so upset. Thanks

I think, in your situation perhaps you should give back the binky! If she needs it to sleep, limit it to sleep and don't allow it any other place than the crib. As for having to go back in to get it, we leave about five in the bed for our 21 month old. Right now she really seems to need the binky and when she seems a bit more independent we'll restrict it even more than we do but for now she has it because we think she needs the comfort. Our dentist told us NOT to take the binky if it was going to cause this much of a disturbance because if the child really has a need to suck for regulation (which many do), the worst thing you could do is remove the binky and have the child start thumb sucking, which is much worse than a binky by far. My dentist really wasn't concerned about the binky until five or so. The thumb on the other hand does damage quickly.

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Fun reading the strings. My son was so attached to his pacifier that it started to become a real problem. We could not go anywhere without making sure that we had a pacifier in hand. My friend absolutely raved about the bye bye binky method so we decided to give it a try (she found it at www.bye-bye-binky.com). All I can say is WOW, worked beautifully for my son with no tantrums, not even one! Super easy and four days later he had no interest in his binky. We really were amazed… highly recommended… Amber

my daughter is 3 years and we just gave up her binky. She cannot get to sleep we don't know what to do . It takes her over two hours to get to sleep. she is exhausted. She doesn't know any other way to soother her self.It's been three weeks. HELP!

Well, thank you all for the bit of comfort in knowing that we're not alone. My son is almost 2 1/2. We didn't plan to take away his pacifier, so no binky fairy, etc to explain its absence. He bit through the last one and we didn't buy another. Since he was very little, he's only used it when he was in his crib and he was totally cool with that. When I picked him up, he would toss the pacifier in the crib and never ask for it outside of the crib. The last week has been horrible. I don't think he understands why he can't get to sleep, (he doesn't ask for the pacifier.) Bedtime takes hours, and they are ugly hours! Naps are hardly happening. He can no longer put himself back to sleep in the middle of the night and we are like walking zombies. After reading all of these postings, I am pretty well convinced that there is no 'answer.' All of our little people are so very different, we'll just need to muddle through this! Good luck everyone.

My two sons recently went cold turkey with the pacifier!One is 3 1/2 and the other is 2.

I recently decided today way the day!!! That was 5 days ago..and it was easier than i thought to make is disappear ( hid them). I made up a story of a birdie flying away with the pacifier and giving it to a new baby and that they were "big boys"and it worked.. they didn't ask! But the problem: my 2 year old took 2 hr naps on the weekend (weekdays they r in preschool and sleep with other kids during nap time) at home and since i took it away.. that also was taken away!..he sometimes doesn't take a nap or he would fall asleep on his own..which is a problem because if he naps late he stays up late ( nothing to soothe him to bed- and he refuses a blankie) and i am tired and ready to sleep to wake up to get them ready for preschool and work. Whereas before he napped 12pm and still slept 8pm.. another problem is he cries before he goes to bed and takes a while to falls asleep...maybe a good 30min to 1 hr. He doesn't ask for the pacifier, but it sucks to have a routine change so late in the game! My question is have you experienced this? and how longgggg will it take to get over this ( pacifier habit and go bed at a norm.time)? WIll i ever get naps back?! #napsaremommiesbreaktime

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