Here is a conversation from the Kids with Clefts group that is typical of one that pops up periodically:
My [baby] is going to have his first lip surgery in two weeks and they said no binkies after that. I'm wondering how people have dealt with this. It seems like such a traumatic time for a child, yet you can't comfort them like they were previously used to. Does anybody have any suggestions? All of my other children have always used binkies or thumbs so I'm at a loss.
Answers from Parents:
"My son wanted a binky after his first surgery so bad, but it hurt him when he even tried. We had a special blanket for him that he cuddles up with that soothes him now that worked the same - but really good luck! If you can get him started on a soft blankie or something else that would comfort him before the surgery, it won't be nearly so traumatic after to just take the binky away."
"We went through the same issue with our son at 4 months--the way he always went to sleep was with a binkie snuggled right into someone's chest. . obviously he couldn't do that after surgery. We started him getting used to a snuggly bear before surgery that we always gave him to help him calm down and started using the binkie less--trying to comfort with rocking, etc.. He couldn't chew or suck on the bear, but I think just having the comfort object helped him through.
"Now, we're 1 month out from the surgery and our little boy doesn't want the binkie now that he can have it. . .he loves that bear, though :)"
"My reply is similar to he others who replied to our post. We found something to try to replace the binki right before surgery. With [our baby] it was a special blankie (that I took with us to the hospital) and I would sing to him to soothe him. It was hard the first few days without the binki. I would let him have his Bottle in his mouth just to suck on someimes. But he really didn't want it much because of the pain in his mouth.
"Now, he is 2 months post-op and he can have a binki. At first he didn't want it, but now he loves it again and can even keep it in his mouth! (which he couldn't do before). I hope this helps. Good luck with the surgery!"
"It is really hard for a little while to get them to be able to relax and soothe themselves without something in their mouth. I just held [my baby] a lot, sang to her, and loved her. Obviously it is very hard on you too, and you won't get a lot of sleep but at the end of a month, it seems to get much better. The process is just hard, for both you and your baby, you just have to keep loving them and fight through with them. They are resilient and will figure something else out, it just takes time. Hang in there!!!"