Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Tale of Two Pacies

We are a pacifier-loving household.  

Nonetheless, I have been thinking a lot lately about how to introduce an end to the "Era of the Paci" in our house.  After all, it feels like the right time.  We are no strangers to limits on pacies.  Each child gets relatively free range with their paci until around one year of age, at which point the paci stays in the crib and is only allowed at nap and bed time.  This has worked great for our family.  But now G-Bear is three and will start preschool in the fall.  E-Bear is 19 months with a good sleep schedule and a blankie he loves.  With no major family changes on the horizon, mom home for most of the summer, and the fun exhausting days of summer, this seems like the perfect time to move on.  Except that I dread the end of the pacifier.  Not as much as I dreaded potty training.  But almost.  Will my kids still sleep? Will they still nap?  Will I scar them for life if I take away their precious paci?  Plus, my family doesn't have the most typical track record with this type of thing....I sucked my thumb until I was eight, and my darling, attractive-and-sweet-but-oh-so-bachelor-brother was nearly in double digits before he said goodbye to his "nucker."  Sheesh, was it hard for us by then.  So, if I don't take it away now, is that what my kids are in for?

So I prayed.  And I prayed.  And I asked the advice of trusted friends, all of whom have more kids than me.  I got some great advice:

Pacifier Pointers from the Experts

- "Never make a major change when another is on the horizon.  Sleep or potty changes prior to the birth of a baby, a move, or a vacation are a bad idea!"  

- "If your child uses a pacifier, be thankful for the blessings. Compared to finger sucking, a pacifier is so great because YOU can take it away on your terms. It is really important to remember that we are the parents, and we can take it away/make changes when we think the timing is right.  How I wish all my kids chose that over finger sucking!

- "Remember that kids are VERY adaptable.   We  moms tend to overthink these things, and also give our kids WAY too much control and "reasons" for everything.  A 2 or 3 year old will bounce back very quickly from losing their pacificer, although it may lead to some sleepless nights (at most a week or two provided there are not other things going on in the house).  Obviously the advice can be different if the child has special needs.  Try to pick a time when you have the time and energy to make the move, and then do it!"

- "We found success by taking the pacifier away for nights first (and let them have it for naptime only).  I replace it with another toy/lovie.  We used a stuffed animal for our daughter who was 2.5 years at the time.  She asked/begged/pleaded for the pacifier for almost a week, maybe a few days more, but I just said no, and soon she forgot.  She is no worse for the wear.  I took our son's pacifier away at night when he was only 18 months.  He cried for it for several nights, and then it was over.  He still gets it for naps only because that is still in my best interest (it helps him fall asleep faster for naps!).

- "Don't feel pressure to take away a soothie like a pacifier if this isn't the right time for your family.  My husband and I admit that one of our worst parental decisions EVER was to take away our son's binky around age 2 because that's "what we were supposed to do."   By removing the pacifier, we robbed him of a central source of security, right around the time he was ousted by a baby brother. The timing of it all was really the crux of the matter and by the time we were all done, no one in the house was sleeping at night (or for naps) and two of us ended up with Mono!  To sum up my advice, choose the right time for your family, not other people.  And, if you take away the bink, replace it with a new security item to help the kids through the transition. " 

- "When all else fails, fear not!  The right time will come, you just have to watch for it, and your kids might solve the issue themselves!  Both of our boys solved the binky issue themselves by chewing through their binkys. One of our sons (now 3.5 years) just stopped using his because he had chewed it so much there was nothing left!  We didn't want to take it away earlier because he has had trouble with transitions in the past.  We were almost ready to take away older son's (almost 5 years) when he chewed through his as well.  Everyone slept better after a few nights."

Wow, such great advice.  
Armed with this encouragement, I planned my approach.  
Here are my stories:

Tale One: G-Bear

On Monday morning when G-Bear woke up, we sat together on her bed.
"G-Bear," I said,  "you are getting to be such a big girl.  You know, big little boys and girls don't need to use a paci all the time to sleep.  Pretty soon, it is going to be time to give your pacies to little babies who don't have any pacies.  So, tonight when you go to bed, we can put your paci in a special place, because you won't need to use it.  If you would like to use it for naptime today, you may.  But for bedtime tonight you will need to choose to put it in a special place."
G-Bear pondered this for a moment.
"Mommy, but the babies' mommies can just buy them pacies." 

"No, sweetie, these babies don't have any pacies at all."
"Oh. Can I have my pacies today?"
"For naptime. But not for bedtime. Because we are getting ready to give them to babies who don't have any pacies."
"But I can have them for naptime today?"
"Yes, sweetie."
"Ok. How 'bout I put them in my drawer for a 'pecial place?" And over she went with her pacies.
"That is a great idea, sweetie."

After a long fun summer day, when it was time for bed.  G-Bear asked for her pacies.  "No, honey," I said, "remember pacies are only for naptime now, not for bedtime.  You can have it tomorrow for your nap but not for bedtime.  We are getting ready to give your pacies to babies who don't have any pacies." And with a little wimper, and me laying down beside her for a bit longer after our story, off she went to sleep.  When I greeted her the next morning as she woke up, she leapt out of bed. "Mommy," she exclaimed, "can we go give my pacies to the girls who don't have any pacies?  Where are they?"  That's my girl.  You can bet we will be bringing pacies to some kids who need them this week.

As a brief aside, I was sure E-Bear would be easier than G-Bear to relieve of the pacifier.  Younger, a boy and with a blanket he loves, surely he would be the easy one.  Plus, he had just fallen asleep for a nap without his paci the day before at another house where we were visiting.  

Tale Two: E-Bear
So for E-Bear, since he is so much younger, he didn't benefit from a detailed preparatory conversation like the one I had with G-Bear.  And since we arrived home just shy of 10pm from a fun summer night out, I was sure it was the perfect time to remove the paci, because he was so tired and would fall asleep with minimal fuss.  


I put him in bed with his blankie as I normally do.  When I finished his song and left without giving him his paci, horrendous shrieking and screaming ensued.  Of course he is going to cry, I thought,  just give him some time, he is tired.  An hour went by.  E-Bear's distress and protest was as hearty as ever.  Just after 11pm, I relented.  In I marched with his paci and placed it in his wailing mouth.  Thirty seconds later he was asleep.  I could already hear snoring as I closed his door.

My Lesson:
You see, all the advice I had received, combined with G-Bear's response to me that day, had convinced me that there is indeed season for everything.  G-Bear was ready this week.  E-Bear didn't seem to be.  There is benefit to striking while the iron is hot, to being shrewd as serpents, but it is also important to be be gentle as doves (Matthew 10:16).  So it is with parenting.  Tomorrow G-Bear will wake up again without her paci, and E-Bear will wake up with his.  I am thankful for both tales.  And I better start looking for some babies who need pacies.

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