pacifier binki chupon chupete tete chupoOne of the reasons I love the Spanish language is because depending on the country you are from, there are a multitude of ways to say the same word. This coming week Sesame Street is launching an initiative to help children Put Down the Pacifier.” In Spanish we would say something like the “dejar el chupón” initiative.

Well, actually when it comes to the word chupón that would depend on which Spanish-speaking country you are from. The initiative could easily be called, “hasta luego chupete o tete” (Argentina), “adiós chupo” (Colombia), or “basta con el bobo” (Puerto Rico).

After speaking to several friends about how they call the ever-powerful pacifier, I learned that in Puerto Rico, as stated in the previous sentence, and unlike all the other Spanish versions to say  pacifier, which come from the verb–to suck, they call it a bobo. Bobo can mean dummy, stupid, naïve, or silly in Spanish! In fact, even the English word doesn’t come from the verb—to suck. According to Dictionary.comto pacify means to bring or restore to a state of peace or tranquility; quiet; calm. That definition brings a broader, more meaningful definition to an object many children form an attachment to.

What I find even more interesting is that some children, like my nephew, will even give el chupo a special name. He literally named the object bibi when we had only ever referred to it as chupón (Mexico, U.S.A, Nicaragua)! Amazing, that his strong attachment to the pacifier, which brought him much comfort, deserved a special name that only he could have come up with. I had the opportunity to watch the Sesame Street episode of when Elmo shares about giving up his tete. It reminded me of the time when my sister (and all those around) helped my little nephew put his bibi down. It was definitely a series of steps that finally led to him giving up the chupón. My sister used different tactics to help him with the transition. She literally had to wean him off of it in a similar fashion to weaning him from nursing. I can’t remember the exact order of events, but I do remember that, at one point, he could only use the chupón during naps and bedtime. Later, he could keep it in his pocket and if he really needed it he could choose to use it. Then, we kept it out of sight, out of mind. She reminded me that at one point in phasing the chupón out they even went as far as avoiding the aisle where all the pacifiers were at the grocery story—out of sight, out of mind. When I asked her how he reacts when he sees a chupón now, almost two years later, she says that he looks at it in a nostalgic way, grins, and then puts it down.

So, to all the parents helping their little ones get through this difficult and sometimes emotional milestone, I say, take it day by day, talk about giving up the chupete, and eventually, with time, your little one will put it down. You can also check out these useful strategies on the Sesame Street Bye, Bye Pacifier site.

Suzanne Garcia Mateus is the proud mami of a one-plus-year old little girl whom she is ambitiously trying to raise with three languages. Her research interests as a doctoral student in bilingual and bicultural education and life experiences growing up with Mexican immigrant parents inspired her to create a blog, Interpretations of a Bilingual Life, in order to better understand the rich nuances that living with multiple languages offers.



This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to the winner:Yesi!

Sesame Street Bye Bye, Pacifier! Big Kid Stories with ElmoWe’re giving away one copy of “Bye Bye, Pacifier! Big Kid Stories with Elmo” to one lucky winner.

To enter, just leave a comment telling us about the little one in your life that needs to let go of their chupon/binki and what he/she calls it.

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