The sensation of sucking is deeply soothing for young children, which is why it’s considered one the the 5 S’s (Swaddle, Side/Stomach Position, Shush, Swing & Suck). The pacifier, otherwise known as the binky, nubby, soothie or in our case the paci, was a staple in our household that helped calm our fussy babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians recommend limiting or stopping pacifier use around 6 months to avoid an increased risk of ear infections, especially if your child is prone to them.
As a first time mom, I honestly thought that using a pacifier was just common practice, but I wish I had looked into the weaning process more.
With my first daughter, we actually didn’t give her the pacifier until around week 4 post-birth because I was trying to make sure we had a good latch during breastfeeding. I remember those first few weeks, she was attached to me most of the day and night as I focused on establishing my milk supply. In hindsight, I found the pacifier helpful because it gave me a break from having my daughter constantly latched on but it did take some time to find the right pacifier.
We found that the pacifier helped in reducing stress for our daughter. She started to develop a strong emotional connection to the pacifier around the one year mark. We don’t like to admit it, but it was also a crutch for us as well. It was easy to give her one when she was crying, fussy or when we just plain didn’t know what else to do as typical new parents.
She started calling it the “Pink Paci” around two years old and little did we know that it would take multiple tries and bribing to get rid of the pacifier. We bribed our daughter frequently, but we found this tactic to be fruitless. Our willpower was weak and would still ended up giving in to what she ultimately wanted ~ The Pink Paci.
So, how did we stop using the pacifier?
- Deep Breathing Exercises: We introduced a new way of self soothing when she was upset.
- Patience Stretching: Little by little, we started stretching the time between them asking for the pacifier and you giving them the pacifier. We found using a timer helpful.
- Encouraging A New Soothie: We would give her a blanket or doll instead.
- Limiting Pacifier Use: We limited to nap times, bed times and stressful situations, like long car rides. We also established “pacifier-free” times during the day and it helped when we told her she couldn’t take it to daycare.
It’s been a full two weeks since we went cold turkey and took away the infamous “Pink Paci” from our three year old. Feel free to pass your judgements. We tried multiple times to take it away “cold turkey,” but she just wasn’t ready. I don’t regret not trying harder to take it away, but I’m relieved its finally not used as a calming mechanism for my oldest daughter.