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When Your Child is Addicted to the Pacifier

HOW TO GET RID OF THE PACIFIER

To say my son was obsessed with his pacifier is an understatement. His relationship with his pacifier was more like an addiction. He’d say he just wanted to keep it in his pocket and then hide behind a bush to get a few sucks in before rejoining me on a walk. Yep, he was addicted. I honestly had no idea how to get rid of the pacifier without a full on war.

I’ve never been anti-pacifier. When he was a newborn, I’d happily give Lawson a pacifier to soothe him. When he became a big brother at 16 months old, the pacifier was a way to offer him comfort when I could no longer give him all of my attention. Lawson’s always been a great sleeper and his pacifier was a big part of his sleep routine. 

If you’re been reading around these parts for awhile, you know Sybil has been a terrible sleeper. I was in no hurry to take away Lawson’s pacifier and have two kids up all night. This mama was tired and cherishes her sleep!

When Lawson was around 2.5 years old, we moved from Arizona to California. Jim strongly advocated for ditching the pacifier at that point, but I convinced him to keep it in favor of limiting Lawson’s pacifier use to only nap and bedtime. Even that was rough for the first day or two, but once Lawson knew the routine he was pretty good about sticking to it. Jim and I agreed that Lawson’s third birthday was the point we’d get rid of it for good.

Fast forward to April and Lawson’s impending birthday. I didn’t voice any opposition to keeping our commitment, but in my head I started to doubt whether or not I was ready. Surely he wasn’t going to be 25 and still have a pacifier so why not let him give it up on his own time?? It was all selfish on my part – Sybil had hardly been sleeping through the night and I heard horror stories about kids giving up naps, waking up multiple times at night. Lawson and Sybil share a room and I envisioned them waking each other up all night long. 

In my heart I knew it was time to wean Lawson from his pacifier addiction. Jim and I decided the day after his third birthday would be the day. We had talked about it with Lawson 2-3 months prior to his birthday so he knew it was coming, but we didn’t make a big deal of it.

The morning after his birthday, we put his pacifiers away for good. I couldn’t bring myself to actually throw them away though! We tried the whole “let’s mail them to a baby that needs them” but Lawson wasn’t having any of it. We told him he was three and didn’t need them anymore. He said he didn’t want to be three. He’d rather be two so he could still have his pacifiers. Ha!

The first two days were ROUGH. He didn’t take a nap. He woke up multiple times overnight and needed help to fall back asleep. And yes, he did wake up Sybil. I started to waver in my commitment and told Jim I’d try it for two days. I hated seeing my little boy so distraught.

In order for him to fall asleep at night, I had to hold his hand. Lawson has slept with a balbla doll in his crib since he was six months old, but he’s never gotten super attached to it. When we took away his pacifier, Lawson started sleeping with a small rubber duck, his water bottle and a mini Thomas the Train. The first couple of nights, he tried to suck and chew on the rubber duck. I worried we’d replaced the pacifier with another form of “pacifier”, but that wasn’t the case. 

On the 5th day post-birthday, we resorted to letting Lawson cry it out for his nap. He cried for a full 45 minutes before eventually falling asleep only to wake up 30 minutes later crying again. But that night he fell asleep on his own. Small victories!

It took a full week until we were back to his normal bedtime routine. It was another week until Lawson took a nap without a MAJOR fuss. Since Sybil still has a pacifier, Lawson would occasionally steal it and hide away, but that behavior diminished week after week and rarely happens.

Now it’s been almost two months and he’s back to normal, sleeping through the night for 10-12 hours and taking a 2 hour nap. Thank goodness!

It wasn’t easy, but it absolutely was time and I’m so glad Jim pushed me to stick with our commitment. We both remarked that Lawson seems happier without his pacifier. Life is easier without fighting over using that thing.

Sybil isn’t as attached to her pacifier as much as Lawson was. I’m sure it won’t be easy, but we’ve set her second birthday as the day to take away her pacifiers. As much as I’ve relied on those things for my sanity, I’ll be glad when this phase is completely behind us!

Did your child use a pacifier? When did you wean from it?

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