mrs.nipple & weaning
Pacifiers are such great tools for the beginning of a child’s life. They offer so much comfort and help free up some time for us mamas! They also reduce the risk of SIDS, satisfy the sucking reflux, and help them self soothe. When your baby hits age 2, it’s time to start thinking about weaning. This is because all of the negatives start outweighing the positives between age 2-4. Though it is a wide range I have decided to stay on the safe side and wean early.
“Before age 2, any problems with growing teeth usually self-correct within 6 months of stopping pacifier use,” says Evelina Weidman Sterling, PhD, MPH, co-author of Your Child’s Teeth: A Complete Guide for Parents.
After the 2-year mark, problems can start. Your baby’s top or bottom front teeth may slant or tilt, Sterling says. And the problem can worsen as time goes on.
“Pacifier use after age 4, which is when permanent teeth start to come in, can have major long-lasting effects on adult teeth,” she says.
Charlie is 22 months old. He uses his pacifier during naps, at night, and for car rides. He also uses it here and there throughout the day for comfort. I did not want to do anything “cold turkey” since he has such an attachment to his pacifier and I wanted him to be very much involved in the weaning process. He also has been caught removing his 4 month old baby brother’s pacifier and putting it in his mouth. This is another reason he really needs to be part of the process. Charlie and Ford use the same type of pacifier. I really love the Natursutten pacifiers and I’m just not willing to give his brother any other brand for long term use.
We just started the weaning process and my goal is to remove it from his routine completely by mid October. I am doing it in stages.
Stage 1: Focus on Charlie taking his pacifier out of his mouth and leaving it in his crib without removing it myself. I think I’ll give him up to 20 minutes before I would eventually intervene. My goal would be for Charlie never to use his pacifier when we are in the house or out & about unless we are in the car.
Stage 2: Once he starts taking the pacifier out of his mouth on his own when he wakes up before we go downstairs and leaves it in his crib without me asking for at least 7 days in a row, I will then stop the pacifier use in the car. For the first week I plan on giving him a new little toy or something to distract him in the car and hopefully he will not miss it. During this time I will also stop using it for naps. I am going to introduce a new stuffed animal and book during this time.
Stage 3: After napping successfully without his pacifier for seven days I am then going to remove his pacifier during nighttime sleep. I again will introduce a new stuffed animal and book.
Stealing pacifiers: If and when Charlie takes his brother’s pacifier out of his mouth and puts it in his own, I am going to use those as teaching moments stressing the fact that he is now a big boy and big boys don’t use pacifiers. I will also remind him pacifiers are for babies and Ford is a baby. If this doesn’t work (I have a feeling it’s not going to be a perfect transition) I will use the 123 Magic/timeout theory where he may spend a few minutes in timeout if he doesn’t obey after 3 tries.
This is my own plan and I have not tried this in full yet. I will share our progress on instagram so please follow along if you are interested. Stay tuned! Wish us luck.
If you want a three day plan read below:
Your child can be binky-free in just three days, says Mark L. Brenner, author of Pacifiers, Blankets, Bottles & Thumbs: What Every Parent Should Know About Stopping and Starting (Fireside). Here’s how to do it.
Day 1: In the morning and at bedtime, tell your child that you can see she wants to do lots of things that make her older. Tell her that’s a good idea, and that in three days it will be time for her to say goodbye to her pacifiers. Tell her you know she can do it and that you’ll work together on it. Keep the talk to 30 seconds and don’t sound as if you’re asking permission. If your child responds, reflect back her feelings—”I know you don’t want to”—then move on. Don’t worry that your child will become anxious if given advance warning. “That’s a myth,” says Brenner. “Like adults, children like to prepare themselves physically, psychologically, and emotionally for change.”
Day 2: Repeat the same 30-second talk twice daily, only replace “in three days” with “tomorrow.” Don’t try to sell her on the idea. Keep your tone and manner matter-of-fact.
Day 3: Remind your child that it’s day three and time to gather up his pacifiers. Act as if you’re going on a scavenger hunt and ask your child if he’d like to help. Even if he refuses and protests, proceed to collect his pacifiers, place them in a plastic bag, and put them on the front step for “pick-up by the recycling truck.” Explain that the pacifiers will be made into new tires or toys. “Children recognize that recycling is purposeful and intelligent, and will be far less upset than if you throw their treasured pacifiers in the trash,” says Brenner. Which is not to say your toddler won’t have a meltdown. Be empathetic, but firm, Brenner says, adding that most children get over losing their pacifiers within 48 hours.