I never thought I’d be in a position to discuss a topic like this and actually know what I was talking about. For the last year or so, I’ve struggled with taking away my daughter’s most favorite possession: The Pacifier.
Just over a month ago, I made the decision on a random Thursday morning to take it away for good. After many failed attempts at regulating its use, I decided it was best to completely do away with it, cold turkey. I REALLY don’t recommend just taking it and throwing it in the trash. This can be really traumatizing for a toddler, as a pacifier is more than a piece of plastic with rubber attached to it, for them. I am fully aware that this thing was a major source of comfort, self soothing, and security for her. I knew I had to come up with a specific plan where she would be the one to give it away, instead of me taking it. I also knew I’d have to stick to said plan, or it wouldn’t work. Here is what I did:
For 24 hours all I talked about was how binkies are for babies, and she is a big girl now, and she doesn’t need one anymore. I kept telling her how proud I was of her that she was a big girl now for moving on without it. I told her we would get all the paci’s in the house (ALL OF THEM, DON’T LEAVE AN EMERGENCY ONE, BECAUSE YOU WILL CAVE!) and put them in a baggy. Then, we would go to the store and buy lots of toys and treats. The plan was to pay for these goods with the bag of pacifiers. Used pacifiers have zero monetary value, but kids don’t know that, which works out great for you as a parent.
I chose the dollar store specifically because I wanted her to go in with a basket and pick up anything she wanted. I wanted to say YES to every single thing she picked up, and I knew the only way to do that without spending a ton of money would be the dollar store. For a kid, this is the greatest thing ever. She went down the toy aisle and was so amazed that I was saying yes to every single thing she wanted. I just kept repeating to her that this was a BIG and special ordeal, and she was getting lots and lots of cool things for being such a BIG girl. I also reminded her several times during the trip that we were going to hand over the bag of pacifiers to the cashier in order to get these toys. I made it sound like it was going to be a really cool thing.
Guess what? It WAS. She was so eager to get all of these new things she would have handed over ten bags of nunees. It ended up costing me $17 dollars for over a dozen new toys and trinkets. She really felt like she had just won the lottery. Here is a picture of her at the moment of truth:
As it turns out, handing over the pacifiers was the easy part. I was terrified that night of putting her to bed. I thought it was going to be really awful & had prepared myself for a sleepless night. When we got into bed, she asked where her pacifier was, and I gently reminded her of where they were. She said, “oh….” and then turned over and closed her eyes. SHOCKED, I was. It took her about 30 mins, and she asked a couple more times about it, but then she fell asleep. She woke once in the night, fussed for a minute (never asking for it), then went back to sleep.
This same routine happened for the first week or so at bed time. Anytime she asked about it, I would just remind her, tell her how proud we were, and next thing ya know, she was telling everyone at school & at the park that she was a big girl and binkies are for babies.
She’s even chattier than she was before. Her annunciation of words is amazing. She even took her infant cousin’s pacifier away in the car the other day and said, “You don’t need this, nunees are for babies”, as she handed it to my sister.
Here are some tips for making the first week post- separation easier for both of you:
- Pick your battles: Avoid tantrums and crying at all cost. Give into the cookie and tv requests more than you normally would. The more the toddler cries, the more he will want his binky. To avoid this, it’s best to just avoid conflict for that first week.
- Encourage your child by telling them how proud you are and giving lots of kisses and hugs, even more than you normally do. Really shower them with praise.
- Offer a stuffed animal or small blanket as a replacement at night.
- Spend more time in bed with them at night if it’s become harder to fall asleep. Don’t expect them to be able to just get through the night without any comfort, instantly.
- Be sensitive to their feelings and new emotions that are arising from their loss.
- Doing lots of tiring activities during the day can be helpful for them to fall asleep quicker at night without the pacifier.
- Offer a treat in the morning when they’ve made it through the night without it. It doesn’t have to be an edible treat, it can be stickers, a small toy, or a fun activity.
I hope this has inspired some of you who are on the fence, but are having a hard time pulling the trigger. Let me know in the comments how you’ve done it, and what worked for you!