Chasing Ri and Bo

The Great Pacifier Debate

The pacifier, also known as a paci, soothie, binky, nuk, or in my case, “Sally,” evokes very strong feelings in people everywhere. It’s easy to judge parents whose school-aged children walk down the street with a pacifier in their mouth, but that is the extreme, not the norm. For most, it is just a beloved object that helps babies and young toddlers navigate this big, sometimes chaotic, world.

What is the harm in that?

Before kids, I had endless amounts of time to do my research (along with other things like sleep, painting my nails, or styling my hair). I read so many conflicting opinions about the use of pacifiers, mostly against them, with a few positive reviews sprinkled in, which I could only assume were left by sleep-deprived mothers on a high from getting four consecutive hours of rest.

The reasons against them are valid: They could hurt their teeth, they could negatively affect the baby’s ability to nurse or take a bottle, the baby could become dependent on them… the list goes on and on.

So when I had my first baby, I was dead set against ever using one. I went to great lengths to avoid them, including almost tackling our nurse in the hospital when I saw her approaching the baby’s crib with a pink soothie in hand.

I reacted like she was about to give our sweet child a cigarette, instead of a tool to self-soothe postpartum hormones (which are no joke, people). Luckily, the nurse was a good sport. I’m guessing she has seen all kinds of crazy in the maternity unit, and my outburst was just a drop in the bucket. I’m also confident that she was downright impressed at how fast I got out of bed, seeing as how I had just experienced a natural birth only a few hours prior.

Luckily for us, our firstborn found her thumb before she even opened her eyes. She has happily self-soothed herself through tantrums, boo-boos and bedtimes for the last four years. It has been amazing, though I sometimes worry that my sweet little girl will turn into a teenager who still sucks her thumb when she gets upset. Another story, for another time.

For now, here we are with baby number two (I guess he is a toddler now), who is so in love with his “Sally” that I can’t ever imagine taking her away from him.

Sally has been everywhere with us: The farmer’s market, bike rides, sledding, skiing, and most recently, the water park. Let me tell you, it’s all fun and games until Sally goes for a swim in the lazy river. Then, all hell breaks loose.

We have slowly been trying to transition Sally to be a sleep-time friend. I mean, kids keep blankets well into adolescence. I don’t really see a big difference between a blanket and a pacifier, but somehow the latter creates much bigger feelings.

That being said, I am a sucker for my son’s pouty lip and eyes; I give in if he sheds just one lonely tear down his cheek when he is sad, hurt, or just wants to snuggle.

So, here we are: my goal is to have Sally scooped up in the middle of the night by the “pacifier fairy,” on the eve of his second birthday.

In the meantime, how do I prepare my child for that kind of loss and devastation? How do I prepare myself for the nights of endless crying after blissful sleep for months on end?

Give it to me straight people — is it time for Sally to go? Or, can she stay for just a little while longer? Honestly, I’m all ears!

This post was originally posted on Little Things.

3 thoughts on “The Great Pacifier Debate

  1. My general rule of thumb is to limit taking things out of the house that if lost create epic meltdowns guaranteed when my stash of chocolate is gone. In all seriousness, I get the comment about people’s feelings on the subject, but isn’t it just ONE MORE in a sea of opinions cast by people with poor boundaries? I can’t speak from experience on this specific thing, but I remember hearing one approach that is successful getting rid of the Sallies out there…or bankies…or whatever comforting object. Parents make a type of noble ritual/story and the kid gives it away on their own. I’m not sure how old the kid is other than older, but maybe it is giving it back to the Sally fairy to give to another kid in need or whatever. I think the parent starts talking about the nobility of it or the sad case for other kids in need of Sallies of their own. I’m not sure how involved the stories are, but it usually involves some kind of special/fancy giving away ritual.

    In our home whenever we need to get threenager on board with something he is less than inclined to support, we spend a good week talking about it. He’s usually adamant about not participating at first, but he usually comes around by the end. It’s worked for haircuts, sleeping in his room/bed, getting rid of the sleep sack, getting rid of certain toys for whatever reason (usually because they are dangerously broken or harboring disease that the CDC would fear). It’s actually kinda magical for us. We’ve used it for all kinds of transitions too. Threenager isn’t good with them, but spending a week talking about what will happen casually…talking about his fears or whatever has worked for us.

  2. I love this! I definitely feel like i tend to under-estimate the value of just communicating clearly with my children. I thought it would be a nightmare to take away his bottle and in reality he was fine with it. He just asked for water instead. I totally obsess over these things!! Thanks so much xx

  3. With our first (almost 4 now) we took paci away after her 2yr check up (she was only using a paci at night by that time) because he was concerned about a gap starting. Wasn’t as bad as we were expecting. Our second is nearing 2 and still uses hers a lot and I don’t really intend to do much yet. Between the 2 I attended a baby expo that had a pediatric dentist speak and stated that until they start losing baby teeth/gaining permanent teeth, there’s not much to worry about in that regard and that it’s easier to wean off the paci compared to thumbs/fingers.

Leave a Reply