Breaking a habit- Easier said than done

Feb 24 2014

Breaking a habit- Easier said than done

Breaking a habit

Some parents consider not introducing a pacifier because they know how difficult some kids might be with breaking a habit. Our first born stopped showing interest in her pacifier when she was almost one and we put away all the pacifiers in case she decided on changing her mind. The problem we had with our daughter was with her giving up her bottle. She would refuse to drink milk out of anything but her bottle and would not go to sleep without it. I always made sure to brush her teeth when she was done with her milk and then would fill the bottle with water. Every time we tried to take the bottle from her she would give us such a hard time that we would just give in. By the time she was 20 months old we had seen it all, she would cry and scream so much that she would throw up repetitively, once she even climbed out of her crib to get her bottle.  Our pediatrician said that there is no harm and we should let her have her bottle for as long as she wants it, which came to us as a big shock. We browsed the internet, asked different parents, pediatricians, and nurses for advice to help us break her habit and they all had great ideas. Every child is different and sometimes a parent needs to try many different theories to find what works best for their child.

Some kids stop wanting the pacifier on their own and we wish they would all do that but unfortunately that is not the case. There are tons of opinions on when a parent should discontinue the pacifier, some say before they turn one and others say they can have it for as long as they feel the need to have it. Your pediatric dentist will monitor the growth of your child’s teeth and their jaw and will recommend when they think you should start breaking a habit. AAPD (American Association of Pediatric Dentistry) recommends to break these habits (thumb sucking, bottle, pacifier) by age three, but of course the sooner the better. For us it was very challenging to find a way to break her habit that she could understand and cooperate.

These are some tricks that you can try with your little one and I will tell you what worked for us as well.

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  • Have an authoritative figure talk to them.  Toddlers are very smart and know how to manipulate the parents and the rules so it is very helpful to have their pediatric dentist talk to them and encourage them to stop.
  • Have your toddler trade their pacifier. You can take them to a store and have them find what they like and then give their pacifier to the cashier.
  • Explain it to them. Tell your toddler that they are a big girl/boy and that a baby newborn baby somewhere really needs it and it can really help them to give it to them.
  • Build a Bear. This was what worked for us. We took our daughter to Build a Bear and we had her choose a bear that was super soft and cozy then we had her give her bottle to the lady that was going to fill the bear and had her say goodbye to it. She did everything willingly but didn’t really have an idea of what was happening. Once the lady started sewing it up she realized it started crying and wanting it back and by then the bear was all ready for her. She continued crying for a little while later and then she said “Bottle in bear?” and we said yes and that was the end of it. Every so often she would ask for her bottle and we would remind her that its in the bear.[/list]

Thumb sucking is a little different because you can’t really take away their thumb from them but here are some suggestions:

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  • Put a glove on their hand before they go to bed.
  • Paint their thumb so that its a reminder to them not to suck it.
  • Some put yucky spices on their thumbs to discourage them.
  • You can reward your child that if they don’t suck their thumb a whole day then they can have a prize at the end of the day.
  • Reward them with a super fun manicure every time they don’t suck their thumb in a certain period of time.
  • If everything else fails consult their pediatric dentist and they can make a treatment plan for them


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