I’m sure we’ve heard it a thousand times, but nothing prepares you for parenting.
We read all the books, blogs, and message boards; we ask family and friends questions and know all the “ideal” ways of doing things but parenting each child is so unique. One topic that always felt like a hot topic and one that everyone had their own opinion on was pacifiers. Should they have them at all? What about nipple confusion? When should we take them away? So many things to consider for one tiny person.
We were team pacifier with both kids. Our oldest had hers right up to her second birthday when she learned to self-soothe to sleep; we planned to do the same with our second daughter. She apparently had other plans. The same kid that self-weaned from breastfeeding a week before her first birthday, put herself to sleep in any environment, and transitioned to daycare like a pro refused to give up the pacifier. How could she be so independent in so many areas and not be able to self soothe? She took that pacifier everywhere, took it out to speak, put it back in after talking, tucked it into bed before heading to school but she refused to throw it away.
I wanted to be the mean Mom and just rip the band-aid. But, I knew deep down she just wasn’t ready. She excelled at independence in so many ways that this was her coping mechanism. This was her piece of stability when she was ready to take on new challenges, it was her “security blanket” and she was not quite ready to let it go. So her 2nd birthday passed, then her 3rd and finally her 4th birthday came and went. We watched her reactions as we limited the use, we spoke with her dentist regarding her teeth, we took our time and we supported her in finding new ways to feel confident, and a month after her 4th birthday and transitioning to “big school” we said goodbye to her beloved “paci”.
We made it special.
We took a special trip to the mall to visit Build-A-Bear. We picked out the bear that she loved, gave it a name, special clothes, a song, and a special smell. We stood together, she gave her pacifier a last hug and kiss and she shed a tear as she placed her beloved paci inside her bear. The first nap post pacifier she laid in my arms and whimpered; later that night she asked when we would be opening her bear back up to take out the pacifier. I reminded her that it had a new home and her pacifier would be near her forever but it was time to move on.
We felt confident that she was emotionally prepared to move on. We had worked for the past year giving her new ways to cope when she felt unsure, giving her extra snuggles when she was sad, and asked her what she needed to feel confident before trying new things. Many people felt that we waited way too long, but we knew we waited until the time was right for our daughter. We supported her and knew that her attachment was bigger than just a bad habit; she needed to work on her coping skills because her pacifier had been her only coping mechanism for so long.
6 weeks later and she is doing great. She occasionally mentions her pacifier and sometimes gives her special bear a hug, but otherwise, she is doing great and we are happy that she is where she needs to be emotionally. She has a variety of ways to feel confident and she doesn’t resort to thumb sucking like she tried in the past.