Weaning your child off the pacifier is a real challenge, ESPECIALLY when you have three pacifier- sucking toddlers to deal with. Because you can’t take away the pacifier from one child and let the two others keep theirs, right? It wouldn’t be fair and would cause other problems that could have a bigger impact on a child than taking away her pacifier.
Why now? Because in a few weeks Anya will start school and there they don’t allow kids to come with pacifiers. But the main reason we stop the pacifier now is that it seems that Anya has started to have dental problems, probably caused by the pacifier. I honestly didn’t know that a pacifier can cause problems with the proper growth of the mouth. I find out about it from the people who messaged me on Instagram. So if it wasn’t about Anya’s teeth, I would definitely save some nerve cells, and would choose “let it happen naturally” approach and wait until my kids would wean themselves.
I know there are many methods you can use to get rid of the pacifier more easily. I had chosen the fastest one- to go cold turkey. The method is very simple- you just take the pacifier away, and don’t give it back – no matter how much your little one begs, pleads, and screams for it. Sounds fun, huh?
Our kids are still to little to understand the concept of the magical fairy who comes at night to gather the pacifiers, and it’s nearly impossible to negotiate with them. I read different articles about “the peaceful ways to help your child give up the pacifier”, but to be honest, some of the methods they suggested made me laugh. For example:
“In exchange for the pacifier, give your child a new nightlight and a special pillow. Use a sticker chart. Give them a sticker each time they wake up in the morning without crying for their pacifier at bedtime.“
Maybe “a normal” kid would care about a sticker in exchange for the pacifier, but my kids would slap my face if I even tried to take away their plastic jewels. Well, maybe if I offered them a real kitten instead of a needless sticky piece of paper, they would forget about it for a moment, but at the end of the day, they would still demand the pacifier back.
In the beginning, I wanted to start with little steps and give the pacifier only for the bedtime, when I realized that I was more dependent on the pacifier than my toddlers. Whenever they started to cry, or fight with each other (they do it at least 10 times a day), I gave it to them, just to be quiet. #selfishmomalert And honestly, that’s only the reason why it took us so long to give up the binky.
Ok, let’s get to the point.
Day 1, or more accurately, the night. We were on vacation in Copenhagen. I was sleeping together with Anya in the same bed (though, it would be the same home) when I told myself that it’s time for me to be a strong, independent woman who doesn’t need a paci. I simply took it away from Anya, and let her cry. Harsh, I know. But having a conversation was pointless. Because even the cartoons about giving up the pacifier couldn’t calm her down (and they said that stupid stickers would help …. lol). About 20 minutes later, she felt asleep in my arms and woke up the next day without the pacifier. That was easy, I thought.
The second day was much harder because I had two more junkies to deal with, and I had chosen the worst timing for that – it was the day we took the 11 hours long road from Copenhagen to Luxembourg. What I was thinking about?
But us, humans, we have this amazing ability to adopt ourselves to changes in our environment, and 11 hours was a time long enough to learn how to handle three very unhappy toddlers… without a pacifier. I used so called distraction method to prevent tantrums. Just when they were about to cry, or ask for the pacifier, I distracted them with treats, music, fun activities, my excellent mom humor. “Look, a flying cow!” When it was really bad, the best I could do was holding their hands to comfort them (after it was impossible to ignore them anymore). Ok, that was actually the second best thing. Bringing them to McDonald’s made them much happier.
At the end, we survived the trip. Actually, they didn’t cry more than they would normally do, when having the pacifier. Moreover, this 11 hour drive was less nerve wrecking than some of our shortest trips to the grocery store.
Maybe they behaved relatively well (actually , very well) because I stood my ground and had made it clear that they wouldn’t get what they want this time. Though, I also tolerated all their tantrums and mischiefs not to make the situation even harder. After all, it was me who took away their oral security blankets.
That evening we went to the restaurant, all tired and hungry. I expected the worst. But surprisingly the girls behaved just perfect and we bought them ice cream. When we came back in our friend’s apartment it was past midnight already and we all fell asleep immediately. Nobody even thought about the pacifiers. Probably because we all slept in one bed and the girls had their doudous (it’s how French call a cuddly toy, or thing little children can’t sleep, or live without). Having doudous HELPS.
When Anya asked me a pacifier in the morning, I told her that the black kitty we were friends with in Oslo has eaten all their pacifiers. She bought it (hallelujah)! We took the road again, the last one to Paris. I was curious how they would behave home. Maybe there quitting the pacifier would be much harder because they would sleep alone in their cribs, for the first time without the pacifier.
What helped a lot was that they are three, and they constantly support each other, unconsciously. When one asked for the paci, I said: “Look, your sister doesn’t have one, so it’s all fine.” It was another way to distract them during paci cravings.
The hardest was Luna. She’s going through the terrible phase when her tantrums are impossible to handle, and she’s extremely agressive and violent with her sisters. Sometimes we’re forced to isolate her from them, so that no one gets hurt. But I think that in this case the pacifier couldn’t help much.
The way home was a nightmare, by the way, though nobody asked for the pacifier during the 5 hours drive. When we finally got home, Mia found one in my bag, and gave it to me, saying: “piu, kaka!”
Call it luck, but that night they slept alone in their beds without the pacifiers. The biggest surprise was Anya – I thought she’d definitely ask for it. Luna did, and I told her the same story about the cat who ate their pacifiers. Without arguing, they fell asleep within minutes.
In the morning, I found my babies in their cribs very happy – for the first time not crying for the pacifiers that fell down on the floor during the night.
And I thought that was it – there’s no way back,
I threw all pacifiers in the garbage, even though I knew that some pacifier cravings are still to come.
Going cold turkey is not easy, like breaking any other habit, and it takes a great deal of patience and determination on your part. After all, it’s not only kids who are binky- addicted. But I believe it’s the fastest way to get rid of the pacifier once and for all. Look, it took us only three days. Though, what works for us, may not work for you.
Like I mentioned earlier, I would let my kids wean off that thing themselves, but I had to act fast before it was too late for Anya’s teeth (seriously, there should be a warning on the pacifier packages).
Now, that all our pacifiers are in a fat cat’s belly…. our life is pretty much the same as it was before. The kids are still driving me crazy with their tantrums and fights. But at least we’re not depending on the pacifier anymore, and it’s great! I find my kids to be less irritable and better able to handle stress. Like me, when I quit smoking.
I just hope that from now on their teeth will grow normally. That’s what matters the most.