Paci’s, binkies, dummies, whatever you want to call them, these are amazing things…..but pacifiers can also be a very bad thing.
Pacifiers, when used by little babies, are amazing! They can help you get sleep and they can help your baby sleep. However, when four-year-old children are still using them it’s not so amazing because we’re talking dental problems and all kinds of other issues.
Okay, so you’ve got an older child still using a paci? Don’t feel bad. We have, or had a four-and-a-half-year-old still using a paci at night and we needed to get it away from her.
Mommies, if you’ve got a baby, you probably understand the value of a pacifier. Little tiny babies haven’t developed the ability to self-soothe, so it helps calm them. You might even say it helps pacify them. Pacifier are invaluable when babies are little. I think we all know that.
However, as babies get a bit older, say four to six months of age, they’re not quite dexterous enough to put a paci back into their mouth without help. So in the middle of the night when it falls out they squawk because they want it. Enter new mommy, into the bedroom, five, six times a night to put the pacifier back into their mouth because they don’t know how to do it for themselves yet. That’s a problem.
I did that for my first baby but if you don’t want this type of night time routine, that’s when pacifier use becomes a problem. Another problem with continued use in older children is potential dental problems, as our dentist pointed out. Fortunately for us, our four-year-old has not developed dental problems, but our dentist warned us there would be problems if we didn’t wean her from sleeping with her paci.
Therefore, we devised a plan and here’s what we did. To recap, we have a four-and-a-half- year-old still using her paci. Granted it was just at night but we thought, okay, we’re going to break the habit. I started prepping her for it. The following is the two-part strategy for how we managed to wrangle the paci away from her.
First, our daughter is a very compassionate child and she has a new baby sister. We told her there were babies out there who didn’t have pacis. Imagine that! Those babies needed a paci because they were sad. We asked her if she might consider giving her paci’s to a few of those needy babies. We named some of our family friends who have new babies. She said, “Mmm…you know, I don’t know. I just don’t know. Well, their mommy can buy them one.”
I thought, “I’d better sweeten the pot a little bit.”
Thus the second part of our strategy was telling her that after she successfully slept her first night without any of her paci’s she could have cupcakes and ice cream for breakfast. Totally not my finest moment, but it worked! We went to the store and I let her pick out…well, I gave her a choice between a few of the least sugary cupcakes I could find. She picked out some cupcakes and chose ice cream sandwiches. We had those treats at the house a few days before she worked up the gusto to start letting go of her pacifiers. We had four paci’s to find new homes for.
To start off we said, “Okay, which paci do you want to mail out today and who do want to send it to?”
We let her pick the pacifier. Next, we got an envelope and a pretty colored Sharpie pen. We had her write the name of the friend she chose on the front of the envelope. For Mike, she wrote “M-I-K-E” in her cute little four-and-a-half-year-old handwriting. On the back of the envelope we had her write her name. Then we let her take the envelope out to the mailbox all by herself like a big girl and put up the flag for the postman. Meanwhile, out sneaks Mommy or Daddy five minutes later to retrieve the said paci from the mailbox, so our mailman wasn’t like, “What is this? Gross!”
As far as she knows, each paci was mailed to the friend she chose. She did it! We let her set her own pace and when it came time to mail the last paci, she was totally ready to let it go. Probably because she had observed the ice cream sandwiches lurking in the freezer for the past week.
The very first night without her paci was great. She went to sleep and actually slept longer the next morning than usual! Our plan worked out really well and we are now paci-free. Well, the four-and-a-half-year-old is paci-free. The four-and-a-half-month-old is not paci-free yet. Good luck if you have an older child with a paci that needs to go!
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