Before Lottie was born, a few close friends told us “whatever you do, don’t let your kid go past 1 year with a pacifier.” “It only gets harder after 1 year.” My pediatrician said not to worry, “If she still has it when she is 5 we will talk”
Fast forward 14 months…
She was 14 months and she still used her pacifier when she slept.
I get that still using a pacifier at 14 months for nap time and bedtime only isn’t abnormal, but together Josh and I had set a goal of letting her use it for 1 year, and after that we wanted her to learn to put herself to sleep. (easier said than done of course).
My justification was as long as it doesn’t leave the crib it won’t stunt any developmental milestones or be a crutch that she needs during social situations. A lot of Lottie’s friends still used their pacifier until at least 2 years old, so why did I have this voice in the back of my head telling me to take it away, and why was I fighting it?
Lottie has always been great at handling change. She weaned herself easily, slept great in her crib, and moved from a bottle to a straw cup early… there isn’t a lot that she hasn’t been able to adjust quickly to, so why was I so afraid to take away the pacifier? Obviously she wasn’t going to go to college with it, there would be a time that she would give it up – so why did I, on a random weekend in August, decide to get rid of her paci?
Some kids never take pacifiers, and some kids have them until Kindergarten+. Lottie had a real need for her pacifier. Naptime became a game of Lottie throwing her Paci out and then screaming for it and after 30 minutes I would come in and give it to her. Repeat… (5+ times). Eventually I made the rule once she threw it out, I stopped going in and giving it back to her. During that phase she would stand in her crib pointing at it, screaming for an hour, before I gave up.
I’m telling you this because I am not some super-mom who used my magical mom skills to get rid of the pacifier earlier than someone else. I struggled a lot with how to manage her and her beloved pacifier, and finally, there came a weekend that I was done. I was done giving her the paci back after she threw it out, and I was done with her not being able to put herself to sleep with out it. I knew my daughter would be able to handle the transition as she has every other transition and I was ready to move on to the next stage.
I felt really confident about this whole moving on to the next stage and getting rid of the pacifier stuff…until I actually had to do it.
Getting rid of the pacifier was harder for me than it was for her. As her mom, I wanted the pacifier gone as equally as I wanted her to have the one thing that brought her comfort at night.
The first night we took it away she cried for 47 minutes.
If you are a parent, you know 47 minutes or crying is NOTHING. These babies have lungs and listening to her crying (loudly) for 47 minutes was painful, but I was surprisingly happy it only took 47 minutes.
J and I sat in our room listening to the monitor, questioning why we were doing it. Googling articles in search of someone confirming what we were doing was right, or convincing us its OK to give the paci back to her.
Were we doing the right thing?
Would it be harder if we waited longer?
What if tonight was just a fluke and tomorrow she is going to really not sleep?
Her crying is the worst to listen to–let’s turn the monitor off.
She is still red-lining, maybe we can just give it back to her, she is still a baby, maybe she needs her paci?
Am I ever going to sleep again?
I started to feel that mom-sized ball in my throat get bigger and bigger as every minute passed by. I was taking away from her the only comfort that helped her fall asleep. A comfort I had given her since we was a newborn, and now I was refusing to let her use it. UGH I have to be the worst mom in the world (or so I felt).
47 minutes later she fell asleep.
J and I were in shock. We sat there still staring at the monitor waiting for it to light back up, but it didn’t. She was really asleep.
We didn’t know what to expect for day #2. Little did we know that nights might not be difficult, but naps would be the real killers.
She’s never been a great napper, but taking away her pacifier sent her to new heights during nap time. She screamed for an hour during her first nap until I finally gave up and got her up. I figured by the afternoon she would surely be tired, but instead she cried for another hour until once again I gave up.
Mabye I should have left her, maybe I should have given her the paci back – all I know is when you have listened to your baby girl scream for 2 hours you are brain dead. I couldn’t complete a thought in my head, I wanted to comfort her and let her know she was loved and not alone. I hated every second of it, but knew it couldn’t get any worse.
That night she was asleep within 10 minutes, most likely from pure exhaustion from the day.
The naps today were almost identical to yesterday. A lot of crying, no sleeping for Lottie or mama.
That night there was less than 2 minutes of crying before she rolled over stuck her (adorable) butt in the air and hugged her Hippo and went to sleep (again, probably out of pure exhaustion).
The rest of the week’s naps were on and off, there was no schedule, every day got a little bit better, but she slept “paci-less” which was a success in our book.
This big event that I had worked up in my head, that made me stress about was over in three days.
How did we do it?
From 0 – 6 months Lottie loved Jenni (Her Giraffe WubbaNub).
Starting around 6 months, we switched her pacifier to the orthopedic one and attached it to a Nookums hippo (who we also called Jenni).
On Thursday we took off the pacifier part off and just gave her Jenni, the animal part. We were hoping she would sleep with the hippo like a stuffed animal and it would still bring her comfort helping her go to sleep.
It didn’t and she didn’t. Instead, she got angry that the pacifier was “broken” and threw it out of her crib. She wanted nothing to do with Jenni if the paci part wasn’t attached. We continued to put Jenni in her crib during naps and at night, she continued to throw it out of the crib, so eventually we stopped giving her to her.
We replaced Jenni with two of her stuffed animals, who she now loves and hugs while she sleeps (adorable).
One Full Weekend
We started on a Thursday.
From our experience, the big changes (moving to crib, sleeping through the night, moving to a new room, taking away the pacifier) take about 3 sleepless nights to work themselves out. We always expect if we are trying to make a change affecting Lotties night time routine, we start on a Thursday so we have Friday, Saturday and Sunday to hopefully get her on a new routine before the next week starts. We sacrifice three nights of sleep in hopes of better days ahead.
We realized we were more attached to Jenni than she was
I mentioned this above, but it’s true. We think they are so attached, and yes they cry when they don’t have it, but the truth is we as parents are addicted. We think they need it more than they actually do. We want them to have it because we don’t want to have to listen to them cry it out and we want to sleep.
Yes, every child is different and I have heard success stories of kids growing up and weaning themselves off of the pacifier, or once they are old enough to understand you can explain it to them and logically encourage them to give it up or send it off to the paci-fairy in the mail. Whatever works for you. This worked for us. It’s never easy!
Happy parenting – email me with questions or stories of your own paci-adventures with your kids!