Saying Goodbye to the Pacifier


I remember my son’s doctor talking to us at his 6-month appointment about when we planned on getting rid of his pacifier, as her preference would be around 1 year.  I remember thinking this was such a premature question.  We moved on from it and knew we would discuss it again at the next well check-up, and the one after that. I didn’t really have a plan for when I wanted the pacifiers to be gone. I feel like every child is different.

By a year, our son only used his pacifier for nap time, bedtime, and the occasional crankiness in the car. He didn’t use it at daycare, except for his nap. Time had gone by, and I didn’t think much about when to start the transition until the summer was over and back to school came and my son was 15-months old. This got me thinking about how much he really needed his pacifier. Was this a necessary sleep tool for him or I was the reason he was still attached to it? Whether I liked it or not, he was growing up. My husband and I decided that we would try to get him off his pacifier by the time he turned 18-months. It seemed like the right time for him…and us. And by pacifier, I mean pacifier(S).  There was always three in the crib with him at one time.  

I talked with his teacher and we decided we would start with naps at school to see how he did around 16-months.  This made me nervous, as he isn’t an all-star napper when he is at school. The first day he rocked it and slept without his pacifier the entire time. To my disbelief, he napped 2 hours without it, too. He seemed to be ready to move on, but inside it made me ache.

The weekend nap came after his marvelous week napping at school, pacifier free. I had an appointment when my husband put him down for nap time, so I wasn’t around for the show. He laid in his crib for 30 minutes without even acting tired. We gave in and gave him his pacifier, and he immediately fell asleep. I starting thinking if we undid everything that his teacher had worked so hard during the week to accomplish. Someone always told me to follow the 3-day rule. With babies, it takes 3 solid days to undo bad habits, sleep train, etc. Maybe this was going to follow that same rule? 

But the next day was much better. He made it without fussing and used our normal nap time routine (2 books, 3 songs), and went straight to sleep. Was he really going to transition to being a big boy just like that? Where did my baby go? 

A few weeks had gone by and he started to regress at school. He wasn’t asking for his pacifier, but he wanted something of his own to nap with (besides his blanket). He would ask for his jacket, and that was his “go to” sleep tool. Whether he chose this because it smelled like home, or just wanted something of his own, we will never know. His teacher and I have great communication, so she asked if I would send in a lovey so he wouldn’t have to snuggle with his jacket. At first I told her I wasn’t really open to giving him another sleep aid, as I didn’t want to have to break the habit of a lovey in another 2 years.

The more I thought of it, I knew it was silly not to try something that would allow my toddler to get a good nap in. My goodness, I know I don’t like to deal with the crankiness in the evening from the 45 minute nap in the day. I gave it a few days, and the weekend came again. For some reason that Saturday, we offered him an elephant lovey and he took it and napped for 3 hours. It was glorious. Then I felt guilty that I had not sent one in at school. The following Monday I sent a secondary lovey into school, and to my surprise he did not want it. He wanted the sweatshirt.

Note: the lovey at the opposite end of the crib

So we had the naps down, but the time came this evening when I took away his pacifiers before bed. I used to put three in his crib and watch him play the game of “Which one tastes the best?” before deciding on the one he’d use during story and song time. Did I watch that for the final time the night before and didn’t even realize it? He immediately changed to a toddler before my eyes. He sat with me, as I read stories, blabbering on about the cars in the story. He cuddled up, now seeing his sweet smile before laying him down in his bed. He grabbed the elephant lovey and turned to his side. Cue the tears…

Goodbye Baby, Hello Toddler.