Don’t be too hard on binky. Pacifiers aren’t all bad. On the other hand, any foster parent might be confused about when to take away a child’s pacifier because doctors and dentists have changed their recommendations over the years.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) now says that pacifiers won’t harm your baby if used safely and may even reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Here’s some more information that may help when it does come time to wean your foster child off their pacifier.
Using Pacifiers Safely:
The AAP website has a list of safety precautions including selecting pacifiers that won’t come apart, and never tying them to a crib or to your child. With a few precautions, most babies can use pacifiers, but disadvantages increase by around age 2. This includes the risk of ear infections and many dental issues. Pacifiers may also interfere with socialization and language development. Overall, it’s best to use them on as needed basis, usually for helping your foster child get to sleep or soothe themselves when they get upset.
Taking Away Your Foster Child’s Pacifier:
If you’re lucky, your foster child will do the job for you. Many kids lose interest in their old friend starting around the age of 2. Otherwise, you’ll need to help the process along. Be ready to substitute another comfort object, like a stuffed animal or a blanket. If going cold turkey meets too much resistance, you can make the process more gradual by making the pacifier less available each week. You could even plan a whole campaign, similar to how adults quit smoking. Pick a date and maybe even throw a goodbye party. Rewards are nice too, like stickers and extra bedtime stories. Whatever you do, be sure to be consistent. Giving in to fussing and temper tantrums can be tempting, but it will just prolong the misery.
Of course, the additional stress of COVID-19 adds a new complication. As a foster parent, you’ll need to figure out if this is the right time to ask your child to make another change. Ask your foster agency and your doctor for any help you need.