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Pacifier Weaning 3-Year-Olds: More Difficult Than it Seems

How should parents handle pacifier addiction?

 

I should have listened to the warning sent my way as I sat bleary eyed in the hospital, clutching my newborn baby. The lactation consultant advised me, "Don't give him a pacifier because it will cause nipple confusion."

It started out innocently enough, in the wee hours of the morning. In an exhausted state, it seemed like a God-send. My crying baby would go from screaming to peacefully sleeping with the quick insertion of the pacifier. Luckily, it did not cause any nipple confusion and we were able to nurse successfully. I began to question just how bad such a useful tool could be?

Fast forward three years and I have a small addict on my hands. Don't judge me, but my younger son is a bit of a fiend when it comes to his pacifier. He has given it many pet names such a "binky" and "paci." It is his favorite bedtime accessory and he wouldn't dare settle into sleep without it. The slightest whimper in the night is quickly silenced as he slips it between his lips.

If he had it his way, he would have that sucker with him at all times. He throws pretty impressive hissy fits if he we leave the house without his beloved binky. As he approaches his third birthday, I am a total loss on how to help him overcome his dependency.

I know that it's imperative that he give it up, though. There are horror stories of extended pacifier use causing all kinds of dental nightmares. From cavities to crooked teeth, it seems to reek havoc in a little one's mouth. Not to mention the potential psychological damage that could fall his way if he enters school with a nasty pacifier obsession. Call me paranoid but we already dodge dirty looks if he has it in his mouth in a public place.

I have heard stories of children who outgrow the pacifier on their own. They hand it over to their mama with pride and never look back. Somehow, I don't foresee that in our future. My fear is that this is going to be a knock down, drag out fight.

Several methods are out there to help  wean little ones from their paci peacefully. One mom told me about the "Pacifier Fairy" who visits in the night and swaps all the child's pacifiers for a brand new toy. Another mom took her child to Build-a-Bear Workshop and forced her child to tuck the binky into the stuffing of a bear so that she could still sleep with it near at night.

We have decided to try a four-step program to slowly wean my toddler from his fixation. We will gradually eliminate where he is allowed to have access to his binky. So far, we have restricted him from using it in public. Before we step out of the car, he has to hide in a special place. Next, he will have to leave his paci at home when we leave the house. Then soon after, he will only be able to use it in his bed. Hopefully, we can easily take it away at bedtime soon after that.

Who am I kidding? Despite my positive outlook on life, I know that this is going to be a hard transition for my little guy. Is there a support group out there for parents of children who have a pacifier habit? I can see myself now, sitting in a smoke filled room and introducing myself; "Hi, my name is Leigh and my son has a pacifier addiction." Kind of like Al-Anon.

Does your child have a pacifier problem? Did you successfully wean your little one from their binky? How did you help him or her to let it go? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments. Please. I need them.

Caroline U April 16, 2012 at 03:20 AM
Oh I wish I could be more helpful here but I HAVE heard that the "Paci Fairy" technique works well. I think we all have our battles with various things from picky eaters, to pacifiers to sippy cups! If it's not one thing it's another. I had lots of trouble getting my oldest two to switch from a sippy cup to a regular cup. I ended up just taking them away one day, which may have not been the best method but it turned out okay in the end!
A Luckey April 16, 2012 at 03:30 PM
Though my children gave theirs up before they turned one, the trick for us was to first snip a little off the end of the pacifier so it wouldn't feel the same when they used it. They didn't like the feel of that in their mouth so they easily gave it up. We did this at the advice of a friend whose son wouldn't give his up and he was 2. They snipped a bit off and blamed it on the family dog. He loved the dog and thought it was funny so he didn't mind. They kept snipping more and more off until he finally didn't want it anymore.
Ramon Wallace October 22, 2012 at 11:53 PM
My proem is that I have a three year old addict (now restricted to her room only) and a. 18 moth old. I would love to do cold turkey bit she keeps stealing them from her sister.
nicky kotsonas February 09, 2013 at 06:27 PM
I Just had to tell you about this experience! My daughter was 3 years old and addicted to her pacifier. I could not for the life of me take it away from her without her throwing a tantrum. A friend of mine bought the book called The Paci Pixie where a fairy comes to the child during the night and takes the pacifier from the child while giving a gift at the same time. I read this book and played the song a few times to get my daughter used to the fact that the Paci Pixie was coming to take her pacifier to give to the new babies who needed it. Well the night came where the pixie came to the house and in the morning, my daughter was so proud of the fact that she was a big girl and gave up her pacifier!!! Check the book out! It was a life saver for us! www.indigopixies.com
Rebecca McCarthy February 09, 2013 at 09:32 PM
This is great. Thanks for sharing.

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