Monday, January 27, 2014

Bye, bye binky!

How terrified are you of the day you finally have to take the pacifier away from your toddler? Like, forever?
I've heard dramatic, traumatic stories of weaning the pacifier; from painful nights that turn into weeks, to lots of tears and screaming, to putting the pacifier in a Build-a-Bear. I'm sure you've heard them. Kids are serious about their paci's!!

Needless to say I was nervous.

Cooper is turning two in a few weeks, and I know that this is typically "the time" to drop the binky. A few months ago we successfully limited the pacifier to only sleep-time (unless he was sick), but the idea of taking it away completely?

So here was my plan:
I was expecting to do a lot of research in preparation for "P-DAY."
Then, I would come up with a detailed plan, delay the plan about six more months until the baby came, and THEN wean Coop from the pacifier.
But here's what happened:
My husband put Cooper to bed one night last week, came downstairs and told me, "I didn't give Cooper the pacifier tonight."
I laughed in his face. "Hah! Like that'll work!"
Cooper proceeded to sleep 12 hours.
I get curious, and didn't give him the pacifier the next night. Right to sleep.
It'll NEVER happen for naps, I think. I tried anyways. Right to sleep.

And so, like every other time I am worried about how change will impact my son, he surprises me with how well he adapts to the situation.

I wish I could offer some experienced words of wisdom here, but I can only tell you what I've learned through every transition we've made with our son. And I know, all kids are different. This is just our experience, with our kid.

Avoiding paci-dependency:

Don't delay the transition. 
Most of the strategies I've researched talk about explaining what you are doing to your toddler and creating an incentive-based plan. But at two years old, they don't quite understand all this. It worked to our advantage to not have to explain it to him, because, honestly, he wouldn't have understood. Putting it off takes that advantage away as they get older.

Have a bedtime routine in place. 
We have a routine that we've been doing every time Cooper goes to sleep, since he was two-months old. We give him his paci and lovey, read a book, turn on the sound machine, and we leave the room. As they grow and become more aware, it becomes a familiar and expected routine signaling sleep time. So when there is a change in that routine (ie pacifier) it's not as noticeable.

Have another sleep-time "item" that your toddler loves.
Cooper has lovey that has been a calming force for him since he was little.
I remember putting it in the crib when he was very young, and unaware that it was there. But eventually he grew to know when mom gave him the monkey it was time to sleep. To this day he still strokes the tags on the lovey each time he falls asleep. I think without the lovey, pulling the pacifier would have been more noticeable and a disruption.

Don't enable.
Listen, I know it's easy to grab the pacifier when your baby or toddler is crying or upset, I've done it. But as they get older this is by far one of the worst things you can do. Avoid it at all costs. Once they are walking they become toddlers and can be distracted and soothed with toys or other activities. The pacifier just becomes a crutch.

The next big change coming up for us next year is potty training and moving to a big boy bed. I have promised myself to not expect the worst, and put some faith in my son for once!

He deserves it. 

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