Getting A Toddler ‘Off The Nook’ (Pacifier)
Getting A Toddler ‘Off The Nook’ (Pacifier)
My adorable twins are 3 years, 10 months & 4 weeks old.
Our pacifier story
I’m a hypocrite. Believe it or not, my 3 year, 10 month old still has her ‘memes’ in the house. Years ago I could NEVER, EVER have imagined this. I knew from the start that by age 1 they would be gone, by 2 ABSOLUTELY, by 3 without any question. It’s always easier said than it is done. I never had a child so hooked on the nook, so it was easy to judge others. I see now that I shouldn’t have. I should have been more understanding to parents of children with pacis in their mouths seemingly too late in life.
My mom claims she put my brother’s pacifier on the window sill and a birdie came and it flew away..case closed. I never believed that story. I believe there was an awful lot of screaming, crying and tough nights after that ‘pseudo story’ took place. For almost 2 years I have been saying to Annie that newborn babies in heaven waiting to be sent down to their mommy and daddy need those pacifiers and that she was a bigger girl who no longer did. We should let them fly up to heaven. I’d magically make one disappear. (Not too hard to trick a 1-2 year old, even an early 3 year old child.) Sadly, it just became a game of ‘mommy make the meme disappear to heaven again’ then whining to go and bring it back. Annie would say, ”I’m not ready yet.” I’d say, ”OK, but really soon, right?” ”Right.” Not buying that window sill story mom 😆 .
The one good thing that comes with age is understanding. If I catch Annie with the meme I will tell her that she doesn’t need that ‘baby thing’. It’s for little babies, let’s go put it back in the bowl. The bowl is a place where many, many memes hang out and play. It used to be something Annie visited many times a day and held really dear to her. She had her favorites and protected them greatly. Thankfully, no longer. I loathed that bowl because I knew it was her security and it might just be impossible to get rid of, much like the blanket that my 8 year old is still incredibly attached to. But there was some hope in sight.
The number 1 clue I got that she was ready to try and quit her meme addiction was that she started biting holes in all of the silicone nipples. At night she would be screaming because every nook had a hole in it, and we would have to run out and buy a hole-less one. I knew the chewing and destroying meant something, but she was not 100% ready, so we turned meme time into an only at night thing. And never EVER (anymore, nor for the past 1.5 years at least) out in public. This wasn’t that hard at the age she was at. She knew at 2 and 1/2 to take out her meme and put it aside before leaving the house. The use just started decreasing and decreasing which was good but not perfection. Does she still use it? Only at night to go to sleep, and I take it away and put it in the bowl. She no longer wakes for one, or lives for her ‘collection’. She stopped crying for it in the car not THAT long ago, and I haven’t bought a paci in ages. It once was an almost daily practice.
She used to sleep in her crib surrounded by numerous pacis. That was the only way to keep her sleeping as she woke constantly trying to find the lone one so we needed more in there. I knew she’d be a tough cookie to crack, and she was. But things are much better, and I have a new understanding. Don’t judge if you aren’t in somebody elses’ shoes. It’s so easy to judge, but live in their home and deal with the backlash they have to deal with including sleepless nights and tantrums, and see if you’d eventually give in to. Not all of us, but many of us can and do. If it’s not about the pacifier it’s about something else. There are no perfect parents. You can only be as good of one as you can be. That’s it. So do I have any advice for people whose children are still hooked on the nook? I sure do. Keep on reading. (You know who you are.)
Getting a child off of the pacifier
Cold turkey vs. decreasing usage over time
I obviously voted for #2 and it has totally been working. I think that bowl will be out of here by the twins’ birthday at this rate. Is she too old for the memes? YES! But does it make me a bad mom…I don’t believe so. It hurts me to see my child hurting. I know this has been a great source of comfort for her. Would you want your special item from your childhood that you still adore maliciously ripped away from you?
While I agree that cold turkey works for some, just like cry it out works wonders for some, while some of us moms just don’t have the stomach for it. You can certainly attempt this method to see if your child and you become one of the lucky ones. But for me…(for us) a gradual slow down of meme usage and getting her mind off of the memes in general, along with forbidding its use in public because she is a big girl, and reserving meme usage to only at night and having her put it back in her bowl has been successful. The choice is yours. Do try both if need be.
Nobody wants to have a 3 or 4 year old out in public with a paci. I can only imagine the looks that would fetch. (Especially at 4..YIKES!) Hey, we live in a judgmental society. It is what it is, but they do understand more as they grow, though in many ways it is easier to break a habit earlier, what is done is done. Plus, I don’t think many 4 year olds would wish to be seen like that even if they still enjoy being your little baby at home as do my twins. In other ways they DO want to be big boys and big girls.
Ignore naysayers, namely doctors (and other moms, grandparents, in-laws, etc. if that applies.)
Doctors will advise you to get your child off the nook by 1 but surely by the age of 2 (24 months). Just as they now say no bottles after 12 months of age they are not in the place where we are standing at. They don’t live with your child or twins. They forget because most times the doctor’s children are grown. Don’t let them bring you down. You set the pace, you do things your way. It is NOT going to kill a child to do this. There are much worse things in life to worry about, so don’t freak yourself out. Just block others out if need be, and focus on your game plan.
Also, don’t let doctors or other people scare you about your child’s teeth, even if they slightly protrude as baby teeth. As long as they quit by 4 years of age..they should not have any future teeth problems like an overbite or crooked teeth. They still have their baby teeth. I had a massive thumb sucker who sucked her thumb till quite late in the game and once her baby teeth fell out, her big teeth grew in perfectly straight. The problem was that I couldn’t take her thumb away so she continued on, try as I might. Now she will need braces for sure, but as long as your child stops the nook at the age of 4, despite whatever your pediatrician might say, all dentists agree…their teeth will be alright. Lay your fears to rest there.
It’s best to limit the pacifier when a child is 2 and stop it entirely by the time a child is 4,” says John Stritikus, DDS, a pediatric dentist in Dickson, Tennessee. Past age 4, pacifiers can cause an overbite, open bite, or crossbite — problems that affect chewing, speech, and appearance, and often require orthodontics to correct, notes Dr. Stritikus.
Our pediatric dentist mimicked these same words to us. Don’t feel bad. They had a patient who was 8 and still sucking on his 😯 .
Try some sugar-free lollipops to help wean off the nook
Certain children, namely the younger ones, have an oral fixation. These are your paci suckers and thumb suckers. Sugar-free lollipops during the day to replace the nookie, at least at certain times, will help. This will minimize the usage of them in general and will feed their oral fixation as he or she slowly separates their small minds mentally from grabbing a paci at every turn. Of course, you can’t give them pops all day and at night, but this does help decrease usage if you are looking to wean little by little.
The 3 day plan
(This is definitely something you can try if you wish to wean quickly. It certainly doesn’t hurt to try. It just might work.)
”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.
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.”
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.
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.
Cut off the pacifier tips
This will be frustrating, most especially for older children, but if you can hack it..go for it! I’m sure this would work best on smaller children who don’t understand that mommy or daddy were the ones who did this and can go out and buy some more. This method has worked for some, so it is a worthy option.
The gradual plan (my way of doing things. It works, but it takes more time.)
a) Limit the pacifier to indoor use ONLY! Pacis do not leave the house.
b) Since it is a comfort, remove the paci at home in non-stressful situations, like during play time where the child is content and not fixated on their ‘little friend’. This helps limit time indoors as well.
c) Bed time only. Eventually you will come to that point. Reserve pacifier usage for sleep time only. Pacifiers stay in the crib or the bed. No debate!
d) Introduce a replacement comfort item. Keep those memes as it may take awhile for something else to replace them, but it just might help things along. A new, special blanket or stuffed toy that comforts and soothes, replacing that ‘need’. It is much cheaper than braces.
Don’t be too hard on yourself
This doesn’t make you a bad mom. I think the opposite. You don’t want to see your child upset and hurting over the loss of something so important to them. It’s hard to give up something that you love dearly. I’m sure you can relate to this yourself. It can be approached numerous ways and you will try them. Your child won’t be on the nook forever. It is not detrimental to their health and well-being to go a bit further than a year or two on the pacifier. Do not take this as a personal blow.
Some children can give the meme up easier than others. It’s fact. Some might take 1-3 days to quit, some several weeks, some even months. You have to remember this. Don’t compare yourself to other parents who tell you their child was fine in days. It depends on the child..NOT the parent. You aren’t doing anything wrong. If you are reading this article you are looking to help your child and that should be commended. You should never be ostracized by anybody, INCLUDING yourself.
Also, remember this is a habit. Much like smoking or drinking in adults. You can’t force somebody to stop smoking, and it’s not an easy habit to break. That one is actually very bad for you. You can’t force someone to diet and lose weight. So the child has to be ready and want to make this transition into being a big girl or a big boy. Sometimes you just got to wait until they are emotionally ready. It won’t last forever…this I assure you.
Dip the pacifier in some unsavory concoctions.
(Best for younger children who aren’t wise to it. Ones that can’t just knowingly wipe it off or wash it off like mine would.)
Peppermint oil, even chili oil can be a miracle cure for the binky dilemma. You can also melt a simple brown crayon (only use non toxic crayons, of course) in a disposable cup and dip the pacifiers into it and let it dry. It really looks disgusting and resembles something that fell into a load of poo poo! This naturally is a big turn off to a child. It’s certainly worth a try.
Try to avoid this problem with your future children
If you have been through this war, chances are you do not wish to go there again. Fewer hospitals are routinely giving newborns pacifiers in the nursery like they did with both of my sons many years ago, but some still do. Especially if your child is in the NICU, which is how it all started with Annie. Let the hospital staff know that you do NOT want your newborn to have a pacifier after birth. What the child does not know, they cannot get accustomed to, hooked on, nor miss.
I hope this helps!
Be easy on yourself, be patient with your child & best of luck with getting your toddler off the nook!