Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Can we have a little chat about the pacifier? First, I'd like to say that I LOVE our pacifiers. They made car rides for those first 8-9 months miles easier, and had it not been for Cheech's chupĆ³ns, I'm not sure we would have been as successful at getting her to sleep through the night on her own. Well, kind of on her own. But, where does the line have to be drawn?

Joe and I were out to lunch a few weeks ago, and we saw a family walking with a child in a stroller and a pacifier in her mouth. The child was a GOOD 5 years old. I'm not going to start ranting about my feelings regarding children who have been walking for YEARS in strollers, but I have to admit I was a bit taken aback by the fact that she was sucking on a pacifier. Am I just being naive? Look, I'm well aware that parenting is often times more about survival than anything else, but when does it stop being about convenience and turn into downright destruction?

In no way, shape, or form do I want Cheech to be sucking on a pacifier when she's 5 years old. ESPECIALLY, in circumstances where she wouldn't need it. That being said, I'm not exactly in a rush to take it away from her now. We mainly use them currently for sleeping purposes, and still, in her car seat (although, she's recently been using it less and less in the latter situation). Although I carry one with me, I try to only give it to her if she seems to be in distress and I need to help soothe her before I get her home/change her diaper/do what needs to be done to snap her out of it. In other words, I don't let her have at it whenever she wants. And, once she does calm down, I gently take it out of her mouth and tell her that she doesn't need it anymore. She's also a thumb sucker, so I also try to see if she'll resort to that first.

Ok, so I'm definitely pro-pacifier, but I am anti-pacifier-forever. What I'm having trouble figuring out is when to know that their time is up... and when that time does come, what's the best approach to help kick the habit? P had her girls quit cold turkey at 9 months, but like I said, I'm not exactly feeling the pressure just yet. When I lived in LA, I nannied part-time for a 3 year old girl. Her mom had instructed me that she could use her pacifier for her naps, and ONLY for her naps. It was kept in her nightstand drawer and if she requested it at any other time, she simply was not allowed to have it. Right around the time she turned 3 1/2, her mom had a "talk" with her and told her that now that she was a "big girl" she had to hand her pacifier over to the Pacifier Fairy, who would then pass it along to one of the new babies in the world. She gave it up without a single problem. I kind of like the idea of "reasoning" with a slightly older child, but I can see how that plan might backfire.

What do you guys think? Do any of you get help from a handy pacifier? Have any of you taken them away with success? Or, has it been a total nightmare?


  1. We did pretty much EXACTLY what your nanny family did. From the time she was 2 1/2 or so, she was only allowed the paci during nap and bedtimes. Just after she turned three we explained how the Paci fairy works (just as you stated above), and she helped wrap her pacifiers up and set them at the foot of her bed for the "fairy." We left her stickers and a note in return. It still took some getting used to after that, but I think having an explanation made it so much easier. We let her use the pacifier until she was three because really it was her only "vice" (she never adopted any sort of lovie), and we wanted to be sure she understood why she would no longer use them. I think it helped tremendously with what could have been a traumatic situation for her.

  2. TWELVE months. Just putting that in there. I'm mid-work but when I'm not I'll share more of my thoughts on doodoos.

  3. both my boys were paci babies. #1 decided on his own at almost exactly 2 years old that he didn't want it anymore. #2 would still have it to this day but at about 2 3/4 years old he wore holes in most of them and we had a major catastrophe (our city and home flooded). we were out of sorts for months and sometimes the paci got lost. he would go without it for days then find one. it was gradual but eventually he didn't mind it was lost.

  4. I have no experience with this, but I think my neighbor's approach was clever. When her son was about 3, she cut the tip off his pacifier. "Uh oh, paci broke!" She let him have it whenever he wanted, but of course he quickly lost interest.

  5. My SIL started weaning my nephew off his around age 3. At first, they said he could only have it in his bed, so he'd go sit on his bed to play so he could have it (clever bugger). They intended for it to be nap time only & so had to revise their statement. After a while, they just quit giving it to him.

    My niece is going to be trouble. She is super attached to hers (she's 26 months now), and SIL is already dreading the weaning. I'd guess they're going to try a similar thing - for naps/sleeping only - but the fairy twist might help for her. So long as older brother doesn't ruin that.

    My littlest niece is a thumb sucker. They have no idea how they're going to break that. It's fine for now, but later on it could mean lots of dollars in orthodontics. (Same with pacis, I hear, if they're used for too long.)

  6. oh my. if my daughter would only TAKE a pacifier and give my nipples some rest ;)

    i'm totally with you on the five-year-old in the stroller w a pacifier. no. way. i know moms need to support other moms (and for the most part i hold my judgment and go on with my own thing) but i have a really hard time seeing a young child walking around with a pacifier in their mouth for no reason other than they're used to having it there. i wanna hear those childish babbles and squeals and attempts to communicate!


    1. riiiiiiiight? sometimes i wonder how much easier little things would be (like celia mentioned, sleep, car rides...) if he would take a pacifier.

      such a mixed bag, this baby business.

  7. Oh man. I was soooo against E having a pacifier (I read too many baby books pre-birth) but in the NICU they give every baby a paci so suddenly she was a paci-baby. Anyway, it was the ONLY thing that would soothe her when she cried, only way she would sleep, etc. and she LOVED her pacifier.

    However, at some point around 4 months we noticed that she would fall asleep with the paci and then wake up the second it fell out of her mouth. It turned into disaster zone where we'd get up every 30 min to put the paci back in her mouth, hold it there until she fell asleep and then try to take it out without her noticing. At some point, enough.

    I fully expected it to be a horrible ordeal and maybe it was so damn easy because she was still so young, but I snipped the pacifier on the nipple so there was no more suction (I kept back-ups in case it didn't work, of course). Then I offered it to her as usual at nap, in the carseat, etc. She struggled for exactly 5 minutes before losing interest and sleeping on her own. It took about 2 days of doing this before she didn't care at all. Kind of sounds mean and deceitful as I write this but...

    I'm not sure how that would work with an older baby who actually understands things like this. If I were doing it today I think I would explain that it was broken, etc. Or go the nap-only route. Really, not sure....it's a tough one! Good luck ;)

  8. The day after our daughter turned 18 months, we threw them all out and had two rough nights, since she mainly used them when she slept. After that we were golden.

    Luckily, or unluckily sometimes, #2 doesn't like them at all so we won't have to deal with it again.

  9. perhaps it was just a ginormous 2 year-old? just sayin. :)

  10. We skipped the pacifier until M was three months old, partly because I hated the idea of it and partly because she wouldn't keep it in her mouth. There was no fooling her, she wanted the real thing. Then when she turned three months old we were desperate for a way to get her to be calm in the car so I bascially had to teach her how to use it, and now at 8 months it works most of the time.

    But, we ONLY offer it to her in the car and for difficult nap/sleep situations and that seems to be going okay. She's still picky about it though, and still sometimes only the real deal will do. I HOPE she won't need it much longer, as I do worry the longer she uses it the more attached she'll become.

  11. We used one for a bit. I had been adamant that I didn't want to use one that I remember actually feeling embarassed for using it. The one advantage of me being embarassed is that we thought very carefully about how and why we were using it. It became a useful settling tool for car rides, for naps, and for going to sleep at night. And ONLY for those things. The idea was that it would never become a habit and, as he got older, we would replace one tool with other tools (a teddy to cuddle, for example).

    The next bit is either thanks to our excellent parenting, or it complete dumb luck. At around 7 or 8 months I realised that I'd been carrying a dummy around with me for a couple of weeks, but hadn't used it at all. We took the oppotunity to collect up all remaining dummies and put them in the bin. He never missed them. Once or twice he grabbed one off another baby, and I just took it away and told him that he didn't need it, or that it was 'yucky' (which I realise in retrospect may have appeared really rude to the other parents).

    I do think keeping it strictly as a settling tool helps. The kids I know who got attached, or were extended dummy users, are all kids whose parents shoved it in their mouth whenever they made a peep.

  12. i totally relate to everything you said. and how i hate to see any child who can walk roaming around with a pacifier in their mouth.
    finn is almost 18 months old. before he was born, i never thought we'd use a pacifier (and we didn't, for the first few months). but how i thought i would parent before i actually had a baby and how i do parent? quite different!
    for the past 6 months or so, he only gets in for nap-time and bedtime (and to occasionally settle during bouts of hysteria/illness). i hate to attempt to take it away because he's only been sleeping through the night regularly for the last month (god save us). my plan is 2 years old... figure we can say goodbye together and he'll understand it a little better. who know though- the best laid plans....

  13. My first daughter still has hers and has just turned two. I always hated them, my second daughter won't take one which makes car journeys painful! My daughter has had hers purely for sleeping for a long time at least for the last 6 months to a year. She has it for nap and bedtime and we asked her to leave it in cot/bed. The only times this has changed was during illness and teething and now since the arrival of her younger sister 7 weeks ago she has become permanantly attached to it. Apparently this is quite normal and we didn't have the heart to refuse when her world had been turned upside down enough, just wondering now how long to leave it before making it nap/sleep only again. In terms of getting rid of it full stop, I'm hoping sometime this year between 2 and 3, once she can comprehend something like the dummy fairy.

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