Before I was a mother, I knew everything about being a mother. Which was incredible since I had never had a child. But some non-parents are capable of impossible things, like knowing what parents should do for their children and what they would do if they had a child and how they will be the one parent who doesn’t use their child as an excuse to leave lame parties. Some non-parents also know that child-rearing is all nurture and almost zero nature so with the right parenting, any child will be near perfect with good manners and Harvard acceptance letters. I was (usually) one of these non-parents.

One of the things I was quite sure about was that I would never use one of those pacifier things because it was pretty much a baby plug, giving the message to our sweet tots that their noise was intolerable and therefore they should be quieted. Parents who used them were walking the lazy fence, less than innovative, and needed to take more time to truly focus on the needs of their children.

[Ha ha ha ha. Yes, that’s the sound of me laughing at my non-parent self, giving out mothering advice for free, if only quietly in my head. But I digress.]

The morning of November 15th, 2010, I became a mother. For the first time, mind you. I was now the proud parent of a real human being, slightly over 7 pounds, with lungs and limbs and the works. He was perfect. And he was loud. I was exhausted after twoish days of labor, which in case you haven’t given birth, is the equivalent of running two consecutive marathons without training. So when the nurses wheeled us both into our recovery room – aptly named – the tiny human and I proceeded to get to know one another. As it turns out, baby cries are one of those languages that require special attention to inflection. I was told by some well-meaning mothers that I would be able to tell the difference between the baby’s cries, when he is hungry or gassy or tired, but I don’t know if that ever came.

But based on all the parenting theories I’d developed as an experienced non-parent, on November 15th, I was tired but still optimistic. The nurse wheeled him in next to our bed with one of the green rubbery baby-quieters next to his head. I grimaced. “I didn’t want him to take a pacifier,” I assuredly told the nurse. Well aware that my statement was borne of pride and miseducation, she informed me that babies have a sucking reflex and often enjoy having something in their mouths. So I could offer him a pacifier, which I can throw away later, or he can use his thumb, which is attached. At 3am, I was powerless against this logic. Into the mouth went the green rubbery baby-quieter, which was soon affectionately named “the bink”, and stops were made to Target to stock up on more.

[Author’s note: The above information is not at all meant to insult parents who decided against the bink, even with the above information about a baby’s sucking reflex. I’ll admit I admire your sticktoitiveness. I was not quite so tenacious with my ideology. So good for you. And if you keep reading, I hope you’ll be able to say it back. 🙂 ]

A happy, binked up baby and a mom who can think. 

In our efforts to be acceptable, not overly accommodating parents, we made vague and well-intentioned threats to de-bink the baby by six months, then one year, then some time before kindergarten. Nights of blindly searching in the almost-dark for the bink fueled hatred for the thing, but the ease at which the little would go to sleep with his soothing accessory urged our need. It was a bit like an addiction for us all. Would the bink era ever end?

The lovely Suri Cruise, age 5, still binking it up. We couldn’t let this be John. [Photo credit: The Mommy Files]

About two weeks ago, Josh and I were on vacation. Who knows how it came up, but at breakfast one morning, he decidedly announced that the bink days were over. I suggested that we wait one night after we returned home to let John readjust to being in his own bed, and after we argued about whether or not that was really necessary for longer than necessary, we were in agreement. I think. And one night after returning from vacation, we took the plunge. A tiny snip off the end of the pacifier makes a big difference. We handed him the bink like normal but something was off. He didn’t seem to like the taste. I made “ick” noises at the bink to show my newfound distaste for it, and he found this hilarious. Laughing at our addictions maybe makes them less powerful? A theory worth research, perhaps. Anyway, going to sleep was not without a bit of tears and confusion for a few nights – I think it’s called “Bink Withdrawal” – but in less than a week, he was sleeping without it. We survived.

So even though we didn’t really stick to our original plan or our revised plan or the second revised back up plan we made after that, we finally did what we set out to do: de-bink the baby without him using his thumb as recourse. I don’t really have a lot of advice or anything, not that you asked for it, but I guess this is just like every other aspect of parenting. You make a decision about what to do and the only way it works is if you stick with it. We did, and success! I wish all of you luck with your de-binking. May you have many sleep-ful nights ahead of you.

One thought on “De-Binking the Baby

  1. There's Sesame Street song that goes like this, "Bye bye binky, binky bye bye." Way to go John! Anna never took a binky and screamed in public all the time. People would suggest the pacifier and thought she was crazy for never taking one. THey would ask, "What do you do when she cries? And I would say she just cries." I thought for sure she would find her thumb but nope. She does have a blanket that she sleeps with that calms her down pretty quick


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