Sunday, July 14, 2013

For the love (and letting go) of the pacifier: Part 1

This story begins early one winter morning when Gavin was less than two weeks old. My mom had come over to help and let Josh rest. Gavin had just nursed but was still very fussy. We tried every soothing technique we knew. And then I just did it. I grabbed the pacifier the hospital had given us and popped it right in his mouth.

Now we had been trying to wait on this step as long as possible -- so as not to introduce nipple confusion. We knew it was just a matter of time before we'd give it a shot. This child had such a strong sucking reflex and a strong mouth. Oh yes, a pacifier was in his future. It was only a question of when.

When Josh woke up later that morning, he was surprised to see Gavin with a pacifier (which he later insisted that we never call paci or binky or anything else). I just said, "We decided we're doing the pacifier now." He looked confused like maybe he was so sleep-deprived that he forgot that entire conversation. No honey, not you-and-I "we." Me-and-my-accomplice "we."

And so it began. Pacifier. I'm a fan.

But we knew the time would come when we would have to wean him off of it -- a day I was dreading. Somewhere around 18 months we made the slow but pretty easy transition to keeping it in the crib and only using it for sleeping. Our doctor said he could sleep with it until age 3, but my friend cautioned me about waiting too long because she said if he's not physically desperate for a nap, he may start dropping his nap when his comfort item is taken away. I am interested in keeping the nap as long as possible, so upon this advice, I started thinking about how we would wean him. A few months later, after he turned two-and-a-half, we decided it was time.

I knew there was probably no way to avoid the tears, but I also didn't want to spring it on him one night. I wanted him to feel positive, prepared and supported. (And just in case you were wondering -- no, he is not the kid that is just going to give it up one day on his own. I wish. He loves this thing. He is not attached to any other object.)

Gavin loves books, and he is pretty suggestible if the idea comes from a book, so I started reading reviews for every pacifier book I could find. Based on what I found, it seemed most of them spent a good deal of time helping the child limit pacifier usage only to sleepy times. Well, we were already there, so I kept looking. The only one I found that really seemed to meet our needs was Bye-Bye Binky by Brigette Weninger. Unfortunately it was out of print and going for $49 or more on Amazon and auction sites. (When I was lamenting this to my parents, my so-sweet, very-frugal dad blurted out: "Fifty bucks! Give me that pacifier. He'll only cry for a day." Ha ha -- funny dad.) Thankfully, I found it for free at our local library. (While I was there I also got Little Bunny's Pacifier Plan. Gavin never wanted to read it, but it seemed to coincide well enough with our situation that I gave it a shot.)

I also bought my first kid's DVD: Bye-Bye Pacifier - Big Kid Stories with Elmo. Before this video, Gavin still hadn't really watched TV yet. We originally chose not to introduce TV before age two based on Brain Rules for Babies (see my take on the book here), but then after he turned two, I just never made time to look into what shows I wanted to him to watch, and he never seemed interested, so we never made it a priority. Anyway, I thought this video would be a special treat.

The last couple things in my arsenal: pictures of Gavin's slightly older friends who had given up their pacifiers already (before and after pics), a pack of hot wheels cars I had picked up at a resale shop and a calendar with markers.

See how it all comes together and then falls apart and then (hopefully) comes together in the end, as this short series continues. (You can subscribe by email or to the RSS feed or follow me on twitter @valerie_e.)

Other posts in this series: Part 2 and Part 3


  1. Keep us updated, Valerie! I hope Gavin does well!

    My kiddo was never interested in a pacifier. I have no idea why!! I was ready to pop it in his mouth, though. :)

  2. Thanks, Lauren!! I would definitely say I was more happy to have the paci than to not, even with the weaning from it. It was a nice tool for its time. Really appreciate the read and the well wishes!