Saying Goodbye to the Pacifier
My daughter recently got rid of her pacifier, lovingly referred to as “mima”. I’ve wanted to toss it for a long time but I knew that it would be a rough transition not only for her but also for all of us. She hasn’t napped since she transitioned into her big girl bed when she weaned at 25 months so being able to send her to her room for some quiet time with mima gave everyone a chance to relax.
At six months we got rid of it during the day but let her keep it for naps and bedtime. 1 ½ she stopped using it for naps at school but we still let her have it for naps at home. Since every parent is already sleep deprived I really didn’t want to lose any more sleep, so as much as I wanted to get rid of it, I didn’t really try very hard and Annabelle screamed bloody murder just at the thought of not having it.
The day after her third birthday I took her to the pediatrician and we talked about getting rid of it before it pushes her jaw out any further. Of course my little eavesdropper listened to everything, so we talked about it hurting her teeth and decided we would cut them up and buy a new something that she could sleep with instead of mima.
So off we went to the toy store and bought a mima replacement. I should have gone home to get it so she could pay for her new dolly with her pacifier but instead we made a pact for her to cut it when we got home and she did, no problem. I was actually surprised at how eager she was to do it.
And then it was bedtime. And there was no mima. There were a LOT of tears, I finally gave her the broken mima and let her try it. She trying sucking it and exclaimed happily that it worked so I let her hold on to it and sleep with it. The next night the same thing happened except she just wanted to hold it while she fell asleep. The third night she wanted it out of her bed and she wanted mommy. So I sat next to her, held her hand, caressed her hair and listened to lullabies with her until she fell asleep. If I tried leaving before she was asleep the water works would start all over, so I just stayed until she fell asleep. For about 3 weeks.
Then we went on a trip, had a 4 hour time change, and I continued to lay with her for about another week, then she finally stopped requesting mommy to sit with her every night.
After the first few nights I knew that getting used to falling asleep without it would be a long road and I set myself up to expect to sit with her until she fell asleep until she was ready. Letting her cry it out didn’t ever really cross my mind as an option. My personal opinion is that it doesn’t really teach a kid how to self soothe, after all, look around at all the adults you know that don’t know how to self soothe and use alcohol, drugs, food, sex and who knows what else to help themselves feel better when they’re down. I happen to think that kids learn to self soothe by learning strategies that help them manage their emotions and relax, over time and that expecting a 3 year old to know how to self soothe is ridiculous.
If you’re getting ready to fight the pacifier battle with a toddler I suggest preparing yourself mentally for it if you’re the one initiating it and they’re not really on board. Before we made the transition we talked about them being for babies and that she didn’t need it because she was a big girl but she insisted that she might not need it but she wanted it and then she insisted that she wasn’t a big girl, she was a baby and needed her mima. I tried poking a hole in one of them and it made no difference to her. Then I ripped a large hole in it and she had a complete meltdown, that’s how I knew the only way to do it would be to have her do it on her own and the only thing that did it was the thought that mima was hurting her teeth.
Be patient if the first thing you try doesn’t work. Remember how long that thing has helped your child calm down and fall asleep, be mindful that it may be a difficult transition and be prepared for some extra cuddling while they figure out a new routine for themselves.