It was time. My husband and I had talked about it for a while, but when we heard the pediatrician’s offhanded comment, “You should really think about taking those things away”, we figured the time was now. I had my reasons:
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends parents consider weaning their baby from a pacifier after one year (and our girls were past that age).
- I was starting to get embarrassed by the fact that all of our Instagram and Facebook photos looked like this:
In my mind, the pacifiers were preventing the world from seeing my pretty babies’ faces like a small pediatric face mask. See also Exhibit A and Exhibit B.
I scoured the internet for suggestions on how to make the process as painless as possible. I found some ideas I liked and others that didn’t work for me. Some were just plain mean-like dipping pacifiers in hot sauce! Others, like the The “cold turkey” method had seemed too harsh for me right off the bat. The girls were so hooked on their pacifiers that they would cry for them, as if not having a pacifier was causing them unbearable pain. In the end, this is how we ended up weaning our twins from pacifiers:
First, we cut back on the pacifiers so that they were only used for car trips and bed times. At 15 months old, our twins still weren’t great at entertaining themselves in the car. They also needed their pacifiers to get themselves to sleep. If it came out of their mouth during the night they would wake up whimpering for their lost binky. I could only imagine the unending crying that would ensue if we took the night time pacifier away completely. In a few days we stopped bringing pacifiers on car trips. At that point, the girls were only given pacifiers as they were laid down in their cribs. When a baby was removed from her crib, the pacifier was removed from the baby. Bing, bang, boom.
After a few weeks we went cold turkey and stopped offering pacifiers at bed times. In the evenings, the girls would fall asleep rather quickly. Nap time turned out to be a bit more difficult. The girls hadn’t developed any other soothing skills than the pacifier. With kids playing outside their window and other midday distractions, they flat-out couldn’t get to sleep without a pacifier. We went 3 days without naps. Meanwhile, in a panic that my toddlers would never nap again, I tried to come up with a scheme to help them soothe.
To help them learn to calm down at nap and bed time, we encouraged a relationship with a different comfort object. Madeline had already gotten attached to a raggedy, hand-me-down bear, which became her nighttime buddy. Emily, who is more social-emotional, easily became attached to a soft stuffed puppy. I spent many evenings after work snuggling a baby and her stuffed animal to help them associate the animal with comfort. I’m no expert, but it worked!
Now, when Mommy or Daddy reach for a baby and her accompanying comfort item at mid-afternoon and evening, she knows it is time for bed. This new routine has helped the girls to transfer their attachment and to sleep well without the help of pacifiers. And the best thing is that, unlike the pacifiers, the girls don’t insist on taking their stuffed animal everywhere they go.
While everyone’s method of weaning from pacifiers is different, this worked well for our family. Thankfully, we all survived the process. I now have girls who show their whole goofy grins in photos and sleep well without a pacifier!
When did your baby stop using a pacifier?