When Magpie was 21 months old, we began thinking about reducing or eliminating the pacifier. We'd already cut her down to using it just during naps and overnights, with occasional use in the car (living in NYC, we don't use the car much) and on planes. Despite being consistent with this, Magpie would ask for the pacifier often, especially when upset. For some reason, she'd grown to call it "bottle" around the time we cut out bottles, and so when she was tired or unsettled, she'd start the litany: "Bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle." It almost seemed that the bottle...erm...I mean the pacifier...was making her more anxious rather than less.
Magpie has a lovey she has grown very attached to (see "Lambie" in vacation sleeping photo below). I picked Lambie as a lovey for Magpie when she was about 6 or 7 months old, and we actually have three of them that we rotate. Magpie looooves Lambie, shares food with Lambie, kisses Lambie, talks to Lambie, changes Lambie's diaper, etc. Lambie is a true friend. We hoped Lambie's presence would help with the transitioning out of the pacifier.
|Naptime in portable crib on vacation, with Lambie|
But I struggled with it. I didn't want to be cruel or take away something that Magpie relied on for soothing. And I worried that she had become so used to going to sleep with the pacifier that she wouldn't be able to go to sleep without it, particularly at naptime. Truth be told, I was concerned that sans pacifier, MY CHILD MIGHT NEVER SLEEP AGAIN. Realistic? In hindsight probably not. But sleep has become an irrationally important and precious commodity for me, so I'll cut myself some slack.
On the other hand, the kid would need to move beyond the pacifier at some point. And the fact that she would launch into this perseverative request, "Bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle..." well...it was annoying. (Poor kid...if she could have just quietly used the pacifier at the appropriate times and not made such a big deal out of it, she probably could have eked out another year with the pacifier.)
Let me start by saying I don't recommend our pacifier weaning strategy. But it's how it ended up happening, and we're all still alive, so I wanted to share.
One Saturday during Magpie's 21st month, we were driving to NJ and we forgot the pacifier (OMG!). She asked for it.
Magpie: "Bottle, bottle, bottle..."
Mama: "I'm sorry sweetie, we don't have the bottle today."
Magpie: "Bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle!"
Mama: "I know. You want the bottle. But I don't have it."
Magpie: "Bottle, bottle, bottle, BOTTLE!!!!!!!"
Mama: "Let's sing a song together!! A,B,C,D..."
Magpie: "No! No! No! Bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle..."
Mama: "Hmmm... The itsy bitsy spider crawled up..."
Magpie: "No! No! No! Bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
Mama: "I don't have it, hon. Would you like a snack?"
Magpie: "No! No! No! NO!!! Bottle, bottle, bottle..."
Mama: "How about some milk?"
Magpie: "NO!!! BOTTLE BOTTLE BOTTLE!!!!"
Mama: "Do you want to hold mama's hand?"
Magpie: "NO!!! BOTTLE BOTTLE BOTTLE!!!!"
You get the idea. But eventually, my girl drifted off to sleep as we continued to drive. Having no pacifier with me, I couldn't cave, which I would have done at our home. And I learned in the process that Magpie could get to sleep without the pacifier.
We were out all day. Magpie had a few short naps in the car, not her typical 2.5 hour nap, but maybe three shorter naps (in hindsight, I'd frame it as her getting to practice falling asleep three times without the pacifier...and me having the opportunity three times to learn that she could).
By the end of the car ride, Will and I were thinking...WOW. We're on a roll...maybe we should just not offer the pacifier tonight and see if we can all make it through this. It's a Saturday night, so if it's terrible, we can retreat from the plan and all recover tomorrow night before the week starts.
When we got home, I ran ahead into the apartment while Will and Magpie parked the car. In breakneck speed, I purged our apartment of pacifiers. We usually kept them in a cup on a shelf in her room. I left the cup, but emptied out the pacifiers. I also searched the diaper bag, behind the crib, in the kitchen drawers and on the drying rack, and every other place I thought there might be one. God forbid our poor girl saw one (seemed akin to me having to see a chocolate cake in the house while on a diet. Unfair to the highest degree). I didn't throw them away, but stored them out of sight.
We'd bought Magpie a Dora the Explorer pajama set while we were out, which she loved, and so we introduced it into the narrative. These were her new pajamas - new big girl pajamas that she would wear instead of using the pacifier. She was excited about the pajamas. She REALLY wanted to wear those pajamas. She was not thrilled about the no pacifier part.
That night, because she hadn't had her full-length nap, she was tired. We kept her up later than usual to make sure she was very tired. When we read her her bedtime story in the rocking chair, she started up again, "Bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle, bottle!" and I told her I didn't have it (so hard to lie...). I got the cup down from the shelf and together we looked in it. It was empty. (Again, so hard to pull this slight dishonesty with her, but she seemed to accept the lack of pacifiers once she saw the empty cup). After awhile she asked to be put in her crib (she typically tells me when she's ready to be put down in the bed), so I put her in, and I sat pensively in the rocking chair in her darkened room waiting to see what would happen.
And you wouldn't believe it, but SHE FELL ASLEEP! Not only that but, she slept through the night just the same as usual.
So we decided to do the same thing the next nap and nighttime. (I also quickly ordered a few more PJ sets). And it went a bit easier than before. Within a couple of days, Magpie would ask a bit wistfully, "Bottle?" and I'd explain that we didn't have those anymore, and she'd nod.
Within a couple of weeks, she was totally over the pacifier. We have survived numerous car trips, and even two plane flights since then, and everyone has survived ok, mom and dad included.
I had no idea it would be so easy. So now we have only pictures to show us the memory of my girl using the pacifier...
With big sister Moxie
|At hotel after my sister's wedding this summer, looking a bit goth|
|First plane ride|
|Rare stroller nap last winter|
|Big Girl in her Dora pajamas!|
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