Let me state at the outset that I like binkies. My daughter, who nursed, never used one; but both my boys arrived here from Korea already accessorized with them -- and I don't care what anyone says, they'd already lost enough at that point. They needed to know that I was totally in their corner from the outset. I wasn't about to take that binky away -- and I would've made that decision, even if I'd thought much less of pacifiers than I do.
My doctor is not a fan. She cites the research that finds that kids who use binkies are more likely to have speech delays. And both my little ones (who, by the way, started out life immersed in a language and culture that could not have been more different than our own) have, in fact, endured speech delays.
But I don't fall down on that one so easily, either.
I haven't actually read the research, but I'd be willing to bet it's a correlative study. Those can be tricky. I'm told there are correlative studies showing a relationship between the eating of ice cream and drowning, too, but you'd be hard pressed to find anyone to conclude that therefore ice cream causes drowning. See, kids with speech delays are more likely to be frustrated than kids who are early talkers. Maybe the binky is used more in those cases because it provides added comfort in a very difficult situation. Having a lot to say and not being able to make yourself understood is a pretty tough row to hoe, for everyone involved -- especially if you're only two.
It also occurs to me that my boys lost a lot more than just loving attachment time by being default bottle feeders. It only takes a baby about 5 minutes to drain a bottle. My daughter nursed easily for a half hour at a time. What about all the physiological benefits of having that much more time to exercise and develop the mouth and tongue muscles? Why should my boys have been deprived of that, too?
There are a lot of reasons, then, why I think binkies can actually be a good idea, and I'm glad my boys had them to rely on.
(Anybody still with me?) :)
Today I came across this sweet post from Shannon at Rocks In My Dryer. And I just started to cry. My eyes filled with big, hot tears and just spilled over on my cheeks; and at the same time, my little binky boy happened to come bounding over to give me a big, joyful hug. (The "patty" kind -- you know, where he gently pats me on the back while he snuggles his little face into my neck. Those are my favorite.)
It's not just that, at nearly 2 1/2 years old, he's probably almost done with his binky, too (we've already started backing away from it most of the day, but I don't think he'd benefit from "cold turkey" just yet). It's not just that this is a rite of passage of sorts, showing that he's not really a baby anymore. It's not even just that he's very likely our last baby, and that makes me sad in the deepest regions of my heart.
It's all that, of course; but it's also all tied up in the fact that, at 2 1/2 -- 2 1/2! -- he still isn't able to talk. It's been on my mind a lot the last couple of weeks. And he has so, so much to say!
He's been getting speech therapy since March (through the county birth-3 program, which is a story in itself; trust me, nothing is free), and he has made some progress; but I'm starting to get worried (more worried, that is, than the worry that caused us to get him into speech therapy in the first place). His therapist is working on getting good therapy responses, turntaking, imitation, and so on; and she's very pleased to note that he can make every sound that he ought to be able to make for his age. But he's only just starting to put two syllables together; and his only two word phrase -- as of last week! -- is "Bink, please."
(See? Those things are totally golden in my book!)
He has several signs in his repertoire, and that helps; but I didn't imagine that that would be his main means of being understood at this point. And, while I love using sign language, I'm no expert in it. We're pretty limited here.
When it comes to speaking, he has a very tough time putting a consonant sound at the beginning of any word. And when he's struggling to say something on his own, he ends up forcing the sound mostly through his nose and making a gutteral /k/ sound at the back of his throat. This makes me worry that his difficulty is not merely developmental, but that there must be a physiological or neurological problem that he can't overcome on his own, that comes out when he tries to put those sounds together.
I don't see them working on that in speech therapy.
But then, I'm not a speech therapist, and I don't know what such therapy "ought" to look like. It really has only been three months, after all; and this is the same therapist that worked miracles with Taz, who had been tentatively diagnosed with developmental apraxia before she came along and proved everyone wrong.
But then, Taz was a whole year older than Sunny-boy when he started therapy. And their difficulties are not really the same.
Obviously, this is a conversation I need to be having with "Miss Cathy;" she may be able to clear up a lot of my concerns, and show me how what she's doing is actually addressing exactly what he needs.
I'm so afraid to find out differently, though. I want to do right by my little binky boy. I hope it doesn't mean giving up his beloved therapist.
Or -- for now, at least -- his binky.