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Elmo helps kids break pacifier habit

By Sharon Kennedy Wynne

Times Staff Writer

There are some tot-sized junkies out there and it takes more than the tough talk of Intervention to get them to give up the stuff. We're talking pacifiers. Binkies. Baby's bah-bah. The fuss plug. Like all habit-forming behaviors it starts off as an easy way to feel better. But breaking that habit can bring on a harrowing case of withdrawal.

Sesame Street just launched a first-ever "Put Down the Pacifier" initiative to help kids through the difficult milestone of giving up their binkie. If you go to www.sesamestreet.org parent's corner and click on Topics you'll see their tips and video clips from Elmo that will help ease a child's transition to big kid.

The online promotion coincides with the release of their DVD (Gee, what a surprise). Called Bye Bye, Pacifier! Big Kid Stories with Elmo, the DVD is selling for $14.98 from Warner Home Video. Elmo shows preschoolers how to deal with difficult emotions and puts giving up the pacifier in the same context as learning to ride a tricycle or getting a first haircut.

Bonus features on this disc include the song Proud, some parent tips, and a PDF file of coloring and activity pages to be printed.

As cynical as I like to be about shilling products, I do have a soft spot in my heart for Sesame Street, so I think the motivation is good. This is a tough thing for parents and they could use all the positive help they can get. "We can do this together," the red monster says to his fellow binkie junkies.

Here's some tips from moms I've known who have handled this transition well:

• Ease in by setting down some rules, such as the child can only have the paci if he is lying down. But if his feet hit the floor, he has to hand it over. That is a good way of breaking him out of the daylong noshing habit.

•When it comes time to really end it, have a countdown. Pick a day and plan to do something special together to celebrate the occasion.

One mom I know picked a day the paci was going away and declared it would be taken by the Paci Fairy who was going to give it to a baby who needed it. (Others I know attached it to a balloon and wished it goodbye on its way to the Paci Fairy). Having a going away ceremony made it fun, like a graduation. Also, when her child asked for it the next day she could honestly say, "We don't have one, remember? We sent it away."

• Replace it with other soothing habits. A cuddly blanket or cloth can be a logical replacement. Gradually use the blanket more and the paci less.

•Having a consistent bedtime routine is also helpful, and you could add something like soft music or a cool nightlight.

• Give your child lots of praise for growing up. Don't turn it into a battle of wills.

Sharon Kennedy Wynne is one of our blogging moms on our Whoa, Momma! parenting blog. Join the discussion at tampabay.com/blogs/moms.

Elmo helps kids break pacifier habit 12/02/11 [Last modified: Friday, December 2, 2011 3:30am]

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