Angie, My son is 13 months old and still needs a pacifier to fall asleep. People are telling me it is too long to let him use it. I like it because it is an easy way to get him to sleep- I put him in his crib, give him his blanket and pacifier and walk away. I'm worried about weaning him, what do I replace it with? Is there ANY alternative to just taking it away and hearing him cry and cry for it??? Is there any problem with letting him keep it for another year or so? I'm ok with that because he doesn't have it in public, it stays in his crib. What are your ideas?
Ang--me too. I've got a 2.7 year old that uses one to fall asleep for naps and at night only. And getting him to go to sleep is a piece of cake--as long as Paci is present. Paci has been such a good little helper for us, but it's definitely time to say goodbye come December. Any helps for a non-cry-it-out subscriber?
This is obviously one of the big ones. Lots of people care - and it isn't easy. Let me first say, that these two ages present two different situations. And for a baby 13 months old - there is a good chance that if you take away the paci too early he will replace it with a thumb or finger (and lets face it - that's waaay harder). Some children need to suck more than others - so if you are ready then keep reading - and if not, there really is no rush. Gum tension and all of that will pull the teeth back - I've witnessed it - some kids just have crooked teeth regardless. Do it when you are ready. And for me it was around 3 for one of my children - I had different expectations before children and then I got realistic.
But, to help the process - before you start I would definitely try and narrow the paci time to nap and bedtime. So, if your child has it in the car and grocery store - start weaning them slowly. Just pick one place at a time - and STICK TO IT! If you give in early, you'll help teach them that crying will solve it - so once you are ready, don't turn back!
So, I'll start with the crazy (i mean creative) idea first...poke a hole in the paci. A big enough hole so that it is hard to suck - and this could be enough for some kids - paci is broken (and 2nd paci and 3rd paci all at the same time). Give them the option to sleep with it or throw it away. If they throw it away - be sure to empty the garbage can because they will be back - help them watch the garbage truck take it far away.
Ok, that was ideally, but chances are they will want to keep it. So, here it is -- every three days cut the tip of the pacifier. Eventually, after a few weeks of cutting more and more off the tip, the pacifier will be down to a stub. Eventually, there will be nothing to suck - an unsuckable paci. But, it isn't because you took it away - that's the part that's nice. You aren't the bad guy. "Paci is broken - its getting so old..." and then "Lets do playdough!" - I really wouldn't indulge a lot of pacifier talk, because its really about an addiction and talking brings it to attention. And helping them keep their hands busy is one of the best things you can do.
So, if you don't want to do something that off the wall...
You could talk about it being time to get rid of paci for a solid week - and the conversation could be about where he wants to travel - should paci go sailing to Australia? or perhaps on a shuttle to the moon? or to go fight fires on a fire truck? Let your child help decide where he should go. Then build a rocket ship and have paci and the rocket disappear by morning...or take him to the fire station to give it to a fireman...this is perfect for kids that get into adventure. And then you can always say, "Paci is fighting fires - he wants to be here, but he is helping the firemen."
The next time you loose it, don't buy it again. And help them fall asleep by holding their hand. It will take at least three nights that are really hard. They will ask about it - so sing them to sleep and just be with them. Don't take it away and then hope they will figure it out (even though they surely could it would just involve more tears - because the truth is there will be some tears either way - its really a hard transition). A really hard part it is that the paci is part of their behavior and routine of falling asleep. So, as the parent you get to help them learn that they can fall asleep on their own. If they have a blanket help them stroke the bridge of their nose with it. Give them a new behavior and just sleep with them if you don't want to cry it out.
Good luck! Let us know how it goes - and be sure to share your wise advise or even woes.
Painting: Water Lilies by Claude Monet - because face it, you need something soothing when you talk about this stuff...