Saturday, October 9, 2010

30 Month Stats & Bye-Bye Bink

On Thursday, we saw Oliver's pediatrician for his 30 month wellness check-up. The stats:
Height: 34.75 inches (19th percentile)
Weight: 28 pounds (23rd percentile)
So he's up .25 inches and 1 pound from his 2 year visit. So his line on the charts went pretty much straight to the right. However, at that previous visit he'd just had a big growth spurt, and the doctor said they tend to stair-step at this age, so she's not worried. Plus, we've never expected him to be anything but a shorty, given the vertical impairment of his parents.

Everything else looks good, and she deemed him a healthy toddler, and a typical one too, given his picky eating and massive tantrums. She's having us cut back on his milk, because he's just drinking too much of it in place of food. We had switched from whole milk to 1% after his 2 year visit for the same reason. So now we're supposed to wait to give it to him at the end of a meal. Right. That won't cause a tantrum. Actually, it's gone fairly well so far. We realized if we gave him a "big boy" cup with a little water in it, he forgets about his milk. It feels weird to be discouraging your child from drinking milk. I'm sure in a few years we'll be begging him to drink it again. But over the course of a day, he still gets a good amount, and it's just until he starts eating normally again.

Our biggest challenge is that she wants us to get rid of the binks (pacifiers). We knew this day was coming, but I for one am not ready. I need the bink. I need him to take good naps and go to sleep easily at night. It's really the only thing keeping me sane on some days. Have I mentioned how very attached he is to his bink? Since he turned 2, he was only allowed to have them in the bed. Well, the minute he sees his bed, he's diving for his binks. That's right, plural, because he always has a back up. One in his mouth, one in his hand. Now alternate. Oliver's never really had a "lovey" or comfort item, though he has become somewhat attached to his blanket. Really, the bink is his lovey. So I love it, and he loves it. However, his jaw doesn't love it. He's developed quite the overbite. Marty was sure he was going to have to have reconstructive jaw surgery on it any day now. Apparently, he's young enough that if we stop the bink now, his palate can still move and grow and maybe his overbite won't be so bad.

Thus began Operation Bye-Bye Bink. I scoured the internet to try to find the perfect bink removal method. Cold turkey? No, too harsh. My options came down to cutting a hole in it, or giving them to the "Paci Fairy." My friend Kate had great success cutting a hole in her son's bink. The idea is that you cut a small hole, and then when they go to use the bink, it doesn't suck, so it doesn't work. Her son said, "Mommy, bink broken," and that was it, he was done. However, he is younger and wasn't as obsessed with his bink as Oliver is, and my bigger concern was, that Oliver always has 2 binks. So would I cut holes in both of them? Is he smart enough to find that odd that both his binks would "break" at the same time? He's pretty smart. Or would he just hand it to me or Marty and say, "Fix it." I vetoed this idea.

I settled on a version of the "Paci Fairy," where you have the child give their pacifiers to the "Paci Fairy" to give to babies who need them, in exchange for a toy. I liked this idea because it gave him some active control because in fact, he would be choosing to get rid of his binks. My first problem was that Oliver would have no idea what a fairy was, so I changed it to Elmo. He loves Elmo, he respects Elmo, he'll listen to Elmo. So based on the advice I'd found online, Operation Bye-Bye Bink began.

Here's the general dialogue we used. We had to go over it a lot before he really started understanding and repeating it back to us. In general, we've been talking about how he's a "big boy" now, and all the big boy things he can do (drink from a cup, eat from a plate, sleep in a big boy bed, pee on the potty sometimes).  "Oliver, since you're a big boy now, you know you really don't need to use the binks to sleep anymore. If you want, we can mail your binks to Elmo, and he'll give them to little babies who need them. Then in return, you get to pick out a brand new toy as a thank you from Elmo for giving your binks to the babies." Then we outlined how we were going to do it. This was the hard part for him to get at first. "We'll go to the store, and you can choose a toy that you want. But we aren't going to buy the toy yet. Then we'll go home, and when you decide to go to sleep at night without your binks, then the next morning, we'll take them to the post office and mail them to Elmo. Then we'll go back to the store and buy the toy you want." We had to repeat this a lot, especially when we went to the store to choose the toy, because of course he wanted to take it home right then. The idea is that you have them choose the toy before they give away the binks, because it gives them a concrete goal and reward to look forward to.

We actually thought this whole process might take days. What we didn't anticipate was the desire with which Oliver wanted the toy that he chose. On Friday afternoon, we went to Kohl's, which he thinks is a toy store because I've used my Kohl's cash to buy him puzzles there a few times. When we got to the toy area, the first thing he saw was this:

The Handy Manny Talking Tool Box. Oh yes, it's not just a tool box, it sings and dances too! Mind you, Oliver has never seen Handy Manny (a show on the Disney Channel), but his friend Annabelle has this toy and he loves it. Plays with it every time we visit. He actually talks about it if we haven't been to their house in a while. There wasn't much else at Kohl's, and I wasn't thrilled with the idea of yet another noisy toy, so we decided to go over to Target next door to look. Tantrum ensued. He wasn't totally grasping the "but we're not going to buy it today" concept. We repeated the sequence of events over again, and said we were going to Target. He loves Target. So we walk around the Target toy section, and nothing is really grabbing his attention, or if it is, it's something for the wrong age group or very expensive. I showed him a Fisher Price tool set, nice and quiet, no singing or dancing. He was kind of, meh. I showed him some DVDs that I thought he'd like, and he grabbed them, but still wasn't thrilled. So I went to the end of the aisle we'd been avoiding. The Handy Manny display. Sure enough, he screamed for the tool box. So now he had several things to choose from, and of course he wanted them all, but when we finally got him to actually pick one, it was the Handy Manny Tool Box. But that's ok, because it should be something he really wants. He had to want it so badly that he'd give up his binks for it, right?! And then we left. Without buying it. Tantrum ensued. But we explained that we'd come back tomorrow and buy it if he slept without his binks and we mailed them to Elmo. He talked about it non-stop. It was the best incentive ever.

I'm actually shocked that it worked, but it did. That night, he automatically asked for his binks at bedtime, but we reminded him of his goal, and he went to bed just fine. He woke up crying for me 12 minutes later, so I went up and suggested that he choose a stuffed animal to keep in the bed with him instead of his binks. He doesn't sleep with them ever. He chose a moose, and that was it, he slept through the night. The next morning, we wrote a letter to Elmo together (I held his hand while he "wrote" it), and even included one of his recent paintings. We took it to the post office (since we're in an apartment complex, we have no real mailbox to put it in), and he put them in the envelope, and sealed it himself. I wanted him to be the one to do it. He helped me pay the mailman and that was it. Gone! (We mailed them to Elmo, c/o my mom). Then we went about our day, to an apple festival. On the way home, we went to Target and bought the Handy Manny Toolbox. Unfortunately, he didn't nap in the car, and we got home kind of late for naps at home. Plus, he wanted to play with his toolbox. So, we attempted a bink-less nap, but it wasn't happening. But I think it was more because he was all wound up about his new toy. Tonight, as I sit writing this, he is sound asleep, went down without a fuss after choosing to sleep with his sock monkey, and hasn't made a peep since. We might have some nap issues as we make the adjustment, but I'm hoping he goes back to a normal nap schedule. That was my biggest fear about this whole thing. But otherwise, I'm amazed that he understood the complicated sequence of events (though it did take a lot of repetition), and that it worked! He really is a big boy now!

Because I can't help myself, another walk down memory lane:

About 2 weeks old. Look how big that bink looks! He was so tiny.

About 2 years old. Still using the newborn size binks. We tried to change sizes as he aged, but he rejected them. Look how big he is!


  1. Update: He has slept all night each night since, but woke up at 5:30 Sun and 6:00 Mon. He napped normally each day, including over 2 hours Monday, and woke up after 7:00 today! I think we can definitely call it a success!!

  2. YES! I knew he (and you) could do it!! :) Congrats on being binky free!