Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Getting Rid of the Pacifier at 18 months

We took the next big leap in our child's life: 
Taking away the Pacifier. (eek!)

I was never one of those parents who was under the impression that pacifiers were the devil and that my kid would have screwed up teeth because of it. 
My husband had braces for 10 years so there are already potential dental woes in our kids' futures. Might as well let her enjoy the paci. 

We gave her a pacifier from the day she was born. Knowing what I do now, I have my favorite brand and will be utilizing only that type for Will. 

Speaking of Will; this whole decision arose somewhat out of the blue after I realized that my goal of having Addi off the paci by 2 years old was going to fall right after her new little bro came into the world. After reading extensively on the easiest ways to rid your kid of this demonic sucking device, I knew that just wouldn't be the right time. She'll have enough adjusting to do without taking away her beloved paci. 
Plus, I planned on getting rid of [either throwing away or hiding] all pacifiers from our house, car, office - anywhere and everywhere [because they really do end up everywhere. I'm sure I'll find a few in my jacket pockets next Winter]. And that just wouldn't be possible when we plan on having Will use the same paci that Addi did. 
I saw a lot of stealing from her brother in our daughter's future. 

Now as I said, I read as many articles as I could on the best way to go about doing this without traumatizing all of our lives in the process. I tend to over-research everything I do with my daughter. Did the same thing when we were switching from formula to milk and bottle to sippy cup. It's just the way I mentally prepare for such daunting tasks. So I thought I might help out another desperate mama who is looking for a few tips. 
If I can help just one more mama out, I will feel like it was all worth it!

First off, let's start with the "why." 
Why did I really want to get rid of the pacifier? She's only 18 months old, it's not like she's one of those 5 year olds still using a paci. 

-Gone by 2. As I mentioned before, my goal was to have it gone by the time she was 2 years old. No particular reason for this, it just seemed like a good age [and the age most doctors/dentists have it gone by]. But with a new brother coming when she's 22 months, I thought it best to get this over with before he was in the picture. 

- She's starting to talk. A lot. And consequently after we got rid of the stupid thing she picked up like 10 words in a matter of a week. Not even joking. I hated having her try to talk with the paci in her mouth. It drove me friggin' crazy. And forget asking her to take it out to talk. 

- I just wanted it gone. Much like the bottle, I was tired of it. I was tired of the terrifying thought that I left her paci's at home. I was tired of cleaning them after she dropped it on the ground for the 100th time. I was just done. I also felt like she was getting really attached to it and I needed to nip it in the bud before it got too out of hand. 

-It was starting to look ridiculous. Now that my baby is starting to look less like a baby and more like a little person [sobs], it was beginning to look more and more silly when she popped the thing in her mouth. 

Now onto the good stuff;
How'd we do it?

Before you start:
  • Choose a time when nothing is going on. No traveling, no major life events, no family in town; just a boring time where you can focus solely on this event. I would recommend when taking it away completely that you start on a Friday and do it through the weekend. If all goes as planned they will be over it by Monday. 
  • Agree on a plan with your partner. Even though I was the one who researched it all, I ran everything by my husband before deciding on what to do. I wanted to make sure we were in complete agreement on what we were going to accomplish so that when things got tough we would stick together. This eliminates the chance of the "well maybe if we did it my way..." arguments later on. These things are tough as it is. Add in arguments with your partner and you're destined to fail.
  • Collect all of the paci's you can find. It's like a treasure hunt only not fun. Look everywhere. Under crib mattresses, under beds, toy boxes, random cabinets, diaper bags, cars; if your kid is anything like mine, they hoard them for later use. It's like she knew we were going to pull a fast one on her and she wanted to be prepared for this moment. Put them in a container and store them out of sight. Otherwise they'll point to it and say "I want dis!" Sorry my love. I really want a million dollars but that's just not how it works.
  • Choose what method is right for your child: cold turkey or slow and steady. What I mean by this is, do you want to take it away in one fell swoop or do you want to limit it to only bed/naptime for a few days and then get rid of it completely? You know your kid best so you'll know which method will work. Make a plan and stick to it. Don't give up when it gets hard. And it will.
  • Set the bar low. I dreaded this process to the point where it made me ill. I just knew it would be horrible. Luckily it wasn't as hard as I had anticipated. By setting the bar low I felt like we did a really fantastic job! 
  • Embrace the phrase, "This too shall pass!"

As for us, we went with the slow and steady method. This was a mistake.
Our reasoning was because we were supposed to be traveling the following weekend and didn't want to break one of the rules I outlined above.

Starting on Tuesday I allowed pacifier use only at nap time and bed time. This seemed to work well except when she woke up from naptime or bedtime. 
Case in point: The first morning following this change in routine was rough. Her dad always get her out of her crib [he's the morning person], changes her and then feeds her breakfast. They have a set routine. That morning he asked her politely if he could have her paci. She, of course, refused and an epic battle ensued. Usually filled with giggles and laughs, this morning our daughter cried for 40 minutes straight. Including the ride to work. This did not help mommy's poor morning attitude.

That day after naps I was very careful to get her away from her crib as quickly as possible and distract her in any way I could. This involved singing, books, and movies on the iPad.
The quicker they forget that they don't have their pacifier the happier they will be.

The days following never really got better, and as our trip got cancelled I decided to get rid of the damn thing completely. I believe this would have been our better option from the start, but again - you decide that for your child!

From most of what I read this was the preferred method for most parents. It's hard for the kiddos & parents at first but in the long run they get over it quicker.

Friday night at bedtime was when I decided to take it away completely. She had it for naps that day (I bring her to work so I couldn't exactly let her cry it out when she was pissed) but it worked out none the less. 

During the day on Friday I talked to her a lot about how we were going to go to sleep without paci this evening because we were a big girl now. Did she understand? It's hard to say since she's quite young, but I think she at least got the gist. If you have an older child this will be a lot easier. Calmly explain what's going to happen. This will prepare them for what's coming and there won't be any surprises.

We were out a little late at my in-law's house (on purpose) so she got to bed about an hour later than usual. This helped to ensure that she would be extra tired when we put her down for bed.

That night, we had a very calm night time routine. Sometimes we stray from our plan (loud TV, lots of lights, etc.) so we were extra careful to make sure she was calm and relaxed before bed.

Daddy did her bath routine as usual and then we went into her room and got jammies on and read at least 4 books (she loves to read!). We had turned down the lights and turned her sound machine on in preparation for putting her directly to bed. 

When we had finished all of our nighttime tasks, I said, "it's time for night-night, Addi. We aren't going to have our paci tonight because we're a big girl." We kissed her good night and then laid her down in her crib. 
I told Matt, "We need to leave immediately." So we did. 
(Usually I linger at the door, tell her we love her and that we will be right outside)

She talked to herself for probably 10 minutes or so and then she was out.
That was it. 
I nearly lost it. I figured we'd have at least 40 minutes of crying and then her finally giving in and falling asleep. Much to my surprise, she just chatted with herself and decided it was time to go to sleep. 
And she slept through the night. *drops mic*
 She did wake up fussing at 5:30 (que the "helllll no" thoughts going through my head) Saturday morning but we let her fuss for about a minute and she went back to sleep until about 7, which is when she usually wakes up.When she got up in the morning she was a little fussier than normal, but much better than when we had let her have the paci some of the time. 

For nap times I followed the same routine we always do for naps. 
I said, "it's time for night-night, Addi. No paci again because we're a big girl." 

Naps have been the hardest as she will typically fuss/cry for 10 minutes or so. I'm okay with letting her cry a little bit (I can differentiate her "fussing" cry and her "shit's gotten real, help me!" cry. Typically the latter happens when she drops her lovey over the side of the crib.

Not everyone is okay with letting their child cry and that is okay. Especially if you're dealing with a really young one. In our case, if I go in there she will not go back to sleep. It's better to let her know that she's not going to get her way simply by whining. This is obviously not appropriate for babies under 6 months, and sometimes not okay for babies under a year. It just depends on the child and your family's choices.

After that morning nap on Saturday I didn't mention the paci again. I thought it best to quit bringing it up. I would just say, "time for night-night!" and she was good to go.

Other tips from around the web: 
-Offer a lovey instead 
-Collect all of the pacifiers together and have your child throw them out themselves
-Collect the paci's and take them to their 2-year check-up and give them to the doctor in exchange for a small toy or book
-Collect the paci's and take them to a store to "trade" them in a for a new toy
-"Lose" it! Tell your kiddo it's lost and hope they believe you

We're about two weeks in and I couldn't be happier with the results. As I mentioned in the prelim's, I set the bar really low. I was terrified of this process and thought it would go horribly.

Car rides have been the worst for me. Usually she sat there happily sucking on her paci and I never really heard a word. Now when I put her in there and she didn't want to get in, she will let me know. The entire car ride. Luckily we live in a small town so trips usually aren't that long, but it doesn't make it any more pleasant to have her screaming from the back seat. I have no recommendations for this problem other than investing in ear plugs. I'm hoping she gets over this trend soon.

Update since I wrote this: We had our first long road trip (3 1/2 hours) without the paci and it went surprisingly well! I always try to time my trips around her nap time so she slept for a good two hours each way. I also have Toy Story 1 & 2 on our iPad so she got to watch that when she was awake (she is currently OBSESSED with Buzz!!). 

I strongly believe that our success with this came from working together and sticking to a plan. Did we scream at each other once? Yes. 
Well, I did the screaming. But I'm pregnant and hormonal and my husband should really know to tread lightly around me. 
See, isn't she just so much more beautiful without the paci in her mouth?! 
Overall, just try to stay positive. If you don't freak out, your child won't freak out.
This is a really hard tip for me to follow because I'm high-strung as a rule, but I made it a point to talk to her patiently and quietly and it seemed to work very well.

I hope this helped! And if you weren't looking for assistance on getting rid of a child's pacifier, then I hope it was at least enjoyable to read! 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mallory, I'm Lindsey! I have a question and would love to speak with you. Could you please email me when you have a chance? Thanks so much, I look forward to hearing from you :) lindseyDOTcaldwellATrecallcenterDOTcom


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