Friday, January 6, 2012

Pacifiers Suck or Pacifiers Rock?

I didn't really want to introduce a pacifier to A when she was a baby. At first, I thought it would destroy our breastfeeding relationship (yes, I'm a drama queen), and was following the guideline of waiting 4-6 weeks after birth to introduce an artifical nipple. But then I decided I just didn't want her to rely on some thing to soothe herself.

However, as the reflux she experienced became more severe, it was apparent that something needed to be done. A was never a thumb sucker, although I desperately wished she would develop the habit. I even tried guiding her thumb into her mouth, but she would cry and spit it out. Breastfeeding couldn't soothe her, because it made the reflux worse (especially at night).

And so, one day we reluctantly tried the soother (which she now calls her "suckie"), and magically, our daughter dozed off on her own! This was the first time anything like this had ever happened, without some seriously intense jiggling and rocking, and screams that sounded as though 10 people were being murdered at the same time.

Fast forward 2 years, and A adores her "suckie." We began restricting its use during her awake times, so she now knows she only gets it at naptime and bedtime. However, our daycare person has been successful in putting her down for naps without it, so we began wondering how to do the same. And we've been told by countless people that you must get rid of the pacifier around 2 years of age.

There is, of course, the cold turkey method, which many parents find helpful. Just take them all away, either by replacing them with a special "gift" or ceremoniously giving them away to another baby. We haven't tried this, but have been talking about doing it for many months. Our hesitation is this: A does not respond well to popular behavioural methods. She never has. All those stupid books that you read to help your baby sleep better, eat well, etc.? They never worked for A, and we always ended up just doing our own thing.

There is another method that has you cutting off the tip of the suckie, and allowing the child to use it if they want (children will discover it no longer works, and lose interest). We tried this method first, and not surprisingly, A just sucked away happily on her broken pacifier, all night long. Did I mention we have a strong willed child?

And then there is no method at all - you just let them continue to use it at night, and hope that they someday willingly give them up. Dentists would be pretty upset over this one, as supposedly they cause dental problems.

For the record, I sucked my thumb until I was 5. I seem to have survived, and I actually asked my Mom to stop on my own. I was getting embarassed about sucking my thumb at school, so she helped me find ways to remind myself to stop.

Like so many parenting debates today, this one has different "camps" (my mother is of the opinion that our generation overthinks everything to do with parenting, and I've come to see her point). So if you decide to allow your child to use their pacifier past the "deadline" of 2 years, you'll certainly have people wondering why you haven't enforced the rules and taken it away.

Those of you who read my blog know that I don't respond well to rules. I like to break them. So I'm finally following my mother's advice (everyone wave "hi" to my mom!) and I'm going to be relaxed about this one parenting decision. We won't be following the 2 year rule, but will take a "play-it-by-ear" approach. When A's ready, we'll know.


  1. sounds like a good idea to me! Thanks to all the mommy advise I got on facebook on thumb sucking I am more relaxed now and let Nayla have her way. I think it is true for everything...when the kid is ready you will know! Same with walking, talking, toilet training and pacifiers :-)


  2. My niece gave all her sookies to the 'sookie fairy' Her parents tied all her sookies to a balloon & released them outside. There are even extremely adorable photos of her getting her last suck in before letting them go. After she gave them to the sookie fairy she had no interest in them & when she would pick one up from another baby she would look at it & say 'yucky. baby' Luckly for my sister, her second baby never took a sookie (unless to be a goofball!)

  3. toddler-led weaning? I think it makes a lot of sense! I've learned that there is no right, no wrong, no black or white...It's all shades of grey and whatever works for you and your family :) No justification needed. Do what your heart tells you to do, and that's all that matters!

  4. I could never understand this deadline. As a mother of 2 who never took a pacifier. I tried, but they weren't having it. Both my children spend a big part of their baby months in Denmark. The Danish are huge fans of the sut (pacifier). Most children get them from birth and on their third birthday they hang them on a huge tree in a park in the middle of Copenhagen. I breastfed both boys for an extended period of time, past that 2 year mark. When friends would ask my advice on ditching the pacifier, who was I to judge, I still comfort nursed my toddler and nursed him to sleep. It's kinda the same, isn't it (from a comfort perspective)? She will let you know when she is ready to let go.

  5. Here is a story for you and it is true. I was a soother sucker and when i was around 3 yrs. old, my dad invited me to the dump. I was then instructed to throw my soother over the cliff into the heap of burning trash below. I was under the false impression that after the dump run, we were off to the store to buy me a NEW soother. It was too late by the time I realized what was happening. Just for the record, my three siblings did not use soothers and all three have gloriously straight, perfect teeth. Me? Not so much. I know that soother had something to do with it. I think it is one of those things that has to be somewhat controlled as you have been doing (i.e. bedtime). Can't stand when a toddler has one plugged in their mouth all the time and has to physically pop it out to talk and then sticks it back in when finished talking. Kind of like Maggie on The Simpsons.

  6. I had my soother until I was four... Late to most. I gave it to the soother fairy arrondissement my fourth birthday. I think I remember my attachment so was sympathetic when kiernan was so attached to his. We tried the soother fairy a bunch of times but he just didn't seem ready. He was almost four and a half when one day he was just ready, and I was totally ok with that. By the time he was two he never had it outside his bed and I just think bing ok with it all was fine. My other two didn't take soothers.

  7. Thanks everyone! I love your stories of giving up the paci :) It's so hard to grow up! As Emmannuelle says, there is no black and white - I think from now on I will call us "grey" parents (and really, we are growing a few greys since having a


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