I have three kids and my experience with pacifiers has been different for each. I am not sure what your personal stance is on pacifiers, but for me if there is something that can soothe my screaming child, I say yes! Plus after dealing with David (you can read below) you better believe we were going to try everything to get Pierce to take a pacifier.
When Eliann was born, while we were still at the hospital, we were given a Soothie style pacifier for her by our nurse. It was like the pacifier just came standard with having delivered a baby at the hospital. We were new parents and so we accepted the pacifier without question- after all it was coming from the hospital and obviously they wouldn’t give us anything “bad” for our child in spite of the mixed messages I was receiving from baby books about pacifiers before having children. Besides, it helped soothe our crying baby so we were sold! We honestly didn’t question it or the brand (since you can read all kinds of crazy about whether to use a pacifier and which brand is best if you do so there is no nipple confusion, etc.).
When we moved back to college, after coming down for a quarter to deliver in San Diego, Eliann was about 3 months old. We lost a lot of pacifiers in transition and by the time she was 4.5 months old she wasn’t using a pacifier. We honestly lost them all and just didn’t really replace them. It was a smooth transition and she took a bottle at that time so drinking from a bottle provided the soothing she needed. Easy-peasy… no dreaded weaning period or pacifier withdrawl from our little lady.
Oh David. David hated anything that wasn’t a boob. He wouldn’t take a pacifier or a bottle! I’m serious… we would try to hold it in his mouth and he would wail louder… and yes we tried all kinds of brands. At first we thought oh good we don’t even have to worry about having to wean him from the pacifier but no, no it was awful alternative. I became a human pacifier.
For the first eight and a half months of his life he would wake up every 2.5 hours on the money unable to soothe himself back to bed. I would cave and let him nurse just so I could get any kind of sleep. I know I created a monster by allowing the cycle to even begin, but so it continued until a glorious night when he was almost nine months old and he slept for almost six hours straight. The very next day we moved him out of our room and into Eliann’s room hoping it wasn’t a fluke. Thank the Lord it wasn’t! He slowly added more hours to his sleep and by a year he could sleep all the way through the night. Whew! It’s exhausting just remembering that time… Brian literally slept in another room for six months while this was going on (but that’s another story).
After dealing with David’s hate of pacifiers, we were determined to make Pierce take a pacifier. We packed pacifiers in our hospital bag when we went in to deliver him. Thankfully, there was no struggle. He accepted the pacifier… eureka! That meant we were going to sleep more, right?! Well… although he wasn’t up every 2.5 hours like David, he was up every 4 hours until he was about 13 months old. For whatever reason I was able to function a little better with this scenario… but I am not going to lie it was still rough. We moved him into his own room when he was 4 months old and I just dealt with grabbing him to feed when he needed it.
Flash forward six more months and Pierce still needs a pacifier to help him soothe himself to sleep… that and his trusty blankie (he is the only one of my kids to have a special blankie he loves to snuggle to sleep with). He is now 19 months old and I am ready to begin weaning him. The dreaded event I had read so much about. The reason you shouldn’t give your child a pacifier to begin with.
The weaning process actually started several months ago. I caught him walking around trying to communicate with me while the pacifier was in his mouth. What? I am sorry I can’t understand what you are trying to tell me Pierce? Here let me get that pacifier out of your mouth. Something about him walking around with a pacifier bugged me. He didn’t need it then… he wasn’t being soothed. This is when it occurred to me we may have a problem.
So I started pulling it out of his mouth if I didn’t think he needed it. But when it was convenient for me (aka. he would’t stop crying or I’d go for a drive) I would pop it back in. Aaahhh much better. Pierce just turned 19 months old and now the routine is that he can only have a pacifier if he is going to bed. I put a cute green tin can on his changing table and when he wakes up we put the pacifier in the tin (at first we would do it but now he takes it out of his mouth and puts it in himself… so smart this guy… see you do not need a pacifier Pierce). It works great unless he finds a pacifier and puts it in his mouth at which time I tell him, “Are you going to sleep? No. Okay then give me the pacifier,” and I take it away. Minimal fussing about it.
But now I am ready for the whole shebang… no more pacifiers period. A couple of days ago I did the normal bed time routine with Pierce- head to his room, read a couple of books, turn out the light, give him his blankie and pacifier, then sing Twinkle Twinkle, You Are My Sunshine and Rock-A-Bye Baby and put him in bed. Only I didn’t give him the pacifier and I didn’t do this in his room, I did it in mine. When I was done with the songs I laid him next to me in my bed thinking he would need a little more love adjusting to no pacifier.
He was hilarious. He didn’t know what to do with his mouth. He kept making random sounds bah….. mah….. and smacking his lips. I had the lights off so I could only hear him. When he stopped tossing I moved him into his crib. He wasn’t asleep but I planned to leave him there see what would happen.
I closed the door quickly behind me… walked away slowly bracing myself for a cry…
… but, nothing.
What?! Was it going to be that easy? About forty minutes went by before I heard the inevitable cry. He had obviously fallen asleep and now something caused him to stir but there was no pacifier to soothe him. Oh no! I waited before running to check on him. Within 10 minutes he had stopped crying. I stayed wondering if there was a leftover pacifier in his crib that I hadn’t seen that he grabbed and was using… but I didn’t dare check.
The next time I heard him cry it was 7:02 AM… a little earlier than I would have liked but it was a school day and unfortunately we did need to get up. So I went to get him and started the day (I searched and I did not find a sneaky pacifier in the crib) . Not too bad for the first night of no pacifier!
Nap time, however, was another story. I tried to mimic the same bed time routine but since there was more light in my room (because it’s daytime) it somehow didn’t go as smooth. His tossing turned into playing and I knew this wasn’t going to work. I moved to put him in his room but he immediately was upset. He was on to me. I was going to have to let him cry because he didn’t want to be sung to and rocked in my arms. Ugh. So I closed the door quickly behind me but this time there was full blown screaming. Noooo! I just went into another part of the house and let him cry. He cried again for about ten minutes and to my surprise the crying slowly ceased. I didn’t go in and check on him.
About 20 minutes into the nap he was crying again. Noooo! Was that it? Was that the only nap I was going to get? Was he now going to treat that as a power nap and be awake? I decided to wait it out and see if he’d go back down. Sure enough within like 5 minutes there was no more crying. Phew! But now I was on edge.
About 40 minutes later he was crying again. Boo. Now it had been about an hour and half since I initially put him down. The crying didn’t stop and it half turned into babbling. He was officially awake. It was a poor nap by my standards and I desperately wanted to leave him there because I wasn’t ready for nap time to be over. But, unfortunately, this was part of the price I would have to pay as he adjusts and finds a new way to soothe himself to sleep without a pacifier.
I think we’ve said goodbye to the pacifier (so long as I stay committed) and I will continue to play this bed time game with him in hopes that soon I will be able to simply lay him down to sleep, kiss him goodnight and walk out the door with no crying. Wish me luck!
What’s your experience been with breaking the habit of pacifiers?