My son Brecken is 3 years and 3 months old and last month we successfully eliminated his pacifier, or “ba” as he lovingly referred to it. This was by far one of the most difficult transitions we have had to make thus far in his life, and something I have truly been dreading for years.
I was a pacifier baby/toddler. Like full on addiction status. My parents say they weaned me from my pacifier by age 3...but I had some really sneaky hiding spots and probably managed to keep one around long after they realized it. Because of my personal love and memory of my own pacifier, I was not surprised at all that Brecken also had his ba in his mouth a majority of the time.
After Brecken turned 2 we started trying to only give him his ba at naptime and bedtime. My husband Jeremy had no problem with this at all, and when Brecken was at his babysitter she also abided by the rules. But I had a difficult time with it. Due to Jeremy’s working schedule I took care of the kids by myself every other weekend and in the evenings two weeks out of the month. Basically any time Brecken asked me for it, I gave it to him. Was this helpful, NO. Did this make Jeremy to look like a bad guy, YES. In other words, don’t be like me :) If you make rules, it is only beneficial to your child to stick with them.
A couple of weeks before we moved out of our old house, Brecken was 2 ½ years old. We had managed to only give him his pacifier at bedtime and if we were in the car. But due to timing issues of moving into our new (116-year-old) home, we moved in with my mom for 10 days. My mom is by far the worst enabler on the planet, sorry mom :) “Oh just let him have it,” she said. “He is going through a rough transition.” So I listened to her, and let him have it again, whenever he wanted it. (Love you mom :) )
And that brought us to Brecken being 3 years and 2 months old and still having his ba a majority of the time. I am not putting down any children or parents who have their pacifiers after this age. I believe that it is a parent’s choice when to decide to take away a pacifier, or let the child naturally wean. Our dentist had suggested to us at our 3 year checkup that we discontinue the use of Brecken’s pacifier sooner rather than later. It was just one of those things hanging over our head that we knew we had to do, but didn’t want at all to have to do it.
I must say though, many people, including people we didn’t even know, seemed very concerned that a child his age was still using a pacifier. Obviously we understood that our families were just concerned about Brecken’s wellbeing, so that wasn’t so bad when they would comment. But we had complete strangers who would comment on it when we were in public. I’m not trying to tell anyone how to live their lives, but I personally did not think it was appropriate for people to comment on Brecken’s pacifier use.
Jeremy and I had discussed weaning him a little bit at a time and only letting him have his ba at naptime and bedtime again. But we thought maybe that would confuse Brecken. We also thought about taking it away when he went to school, but we didn’t want him to associate bad feelings with school. So one day we woke up and I took his ba and told him that the dentist had called me and told me that we needed to send all of the ba’s to him because he was worried about Brecken’s teeth.
Brecken cried….and screamed….and downright begged for his ba. It broke my heart and was so incredibly hard for me to watch. We tried to distract him with something else. Which worked for awhile. And then he cried again. Then we gave him gum and distracted him. Then more crying. The first day we took it away I would say he probably had 3 meltdowns and asked for his ba 6-7 times. We stuck to the same story every time he asked. We said dad had taken them to the post office and we no longer had any bas, they were sent to the dentist. I should add that we also took this opportunity to wean Annabelle as well. Partly because we didn’t want her to become more addicted to her pacifier, and partly (mostly) because we didn’t want Brecken to see her pacifier and want it. We still let her have her pacifier at naptime and bedtime, but don’t let Brecken see it, and hope to have her totally weaned within the next 3 months.
The first night was difficult. Brecken still sleeps with us, so I put him to bed and laid next to him. He asked for his ba once again. I told him I didn’t have one, once again. He told me that next time he went to the dentist he was getting them back. I cried a little on the inside. He fell asleep with no tears or screaming. In the night he woke up and was looking all over for his pacifier and asking me for it. I told him he didn’t have one. He must have dreamt he did because he kept saying “yes I just had it.” I handed him his milk and he fell back asleep. He was up 3 times the first night asking for his ba.
And then it was honestly like a complete miracle. The next day he only asked for it twice all day, and he didn’t cry or scream or get mad. It was almost like he just understood he wasn’t getting it back and he had come to terms with it. He woke up twice in the night the second night, but no tears, just asking for it.
We are so proud of him, and relieved that this is over. We went to the store and bought him a toy for being a “big boy”. We never mentioned the ba, we just kept telling him we were so proud of him for being such a big boy.
We are so happy that we made the decision to fully discontinue the use of Brecken’s pacifier. He is so much more outgoing now and talks a lot more. When he had his ba it seemed like he just wanted to lay around and suck on it and not play as much and definitely not talk as much.
To all of the parents out there approaching this dreaded transition- stay strong, you got this! If you have any suggestions for easier pacifier weaning, or a blog related to this topic, please leave information in the comments section!