Monday, December 6, 2010

A 12-step approach to pacifier cessation

Most infant and toddler milestones - starting solid foods, sleeping through the night, and toilet training, to name a few - are the topic of an abundance of self-help books crowding the "Parenting" sections of bookstores. But a few years ago, family doctor Sumi Sexton, child psychologist Rudy Andrew, and stay-at-home mom Liza Draper noticed a somewhat surprising omission: even though nearly three-quarters of children in the U.S. use a pacifier at some point, and 1 in 5 don't discard their precious "paci" until after age 3, there was little accessible, scientifically based information for parents on how to help their kids through this commonly challenging transition.

So these three moms got together and decided to fill this void by integrating their own experiences, a survey of de-pacifying "success stories" from other parents, and the latest clinical research. The result, the recently published volume Pacifiers Anonymous: How to Kick the Pacifier or Thumb Sucking Habit, is a gem of a book. At a slim 116 pages, it is short enough to be read in a few sittings, but is packed with enough facts and helpful advice to serve as a handy reference to return to time and time again.

Unlike many self-proclaimed parenting "experts," the authors of Pacifiers Anonymous scrupulously avoid promoting a one-size-fits-all approach to pacifier or thumb weaning. Instead, they offer thoughtful, balanced discussions of the benefits and harms of pacifier use and a catalog of weaning techniques that have worked for others in the past. Their relaxed, tongue-in-cheek style includes headings such as "Sucking Secrets" interspersed with charts, pie graphs and cartoons (my favorite showing a woman behind a bar presenting two infants with a selection of pacifiers, with the punch line: "Silicone or latex?") Pacifiers Anonymous is an entertaining and valuable addition to any parenting library.

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