Paci, binky, or whatever your toddler affectionately calls their oral sleep time companion (or sometimes all-day companion!), there comes a time in a toddler’s life when their parents know that they need to cut them off.
With both of my kids, I started to feel the pressure to wean them off the paci when they were around a year old. But my hubby and I were softies and felt so bad for our babies. They still seemed very much like babies to us and it didn’t seem fair to take away something that had soothed them pretty much since birth.
As they continued to get older the pressure to take the paci away continued to build, but there was always some excuse.
When my daughter was 17-months-old, we started a long period of transition — moving out of our old house, moving in with my in-laws for 6 weeks, then moving into our new home, and then 4 weeks later my son was born. I wanted her to keep things that were comfortable and familiar during that time of new surroundings and sleeping arrangements. And I also wanted her to sleep. I didn’t want to take away her paci and deal with the loss of sleep that I was sure would follow.
And once my son was born and started to use a paci it felt cruel to try to take my daughter’s away when he could still have his. But he was too young to wean off the paci, so we just let my daughter continue with hers, although we limited it to nap time and bedtime.
And before we knew it he was 18-months-old, and she was almost 3 1/2, and we finally decided it was time to help them both let their pacis go.
We chose to use the “paci fairy” to encourage our kids to give up their pacis, and give them a reward in return.
We talked with them about the paci fairy for at least a week or so until the night we planned to take their pacis away. We told them that the paci fairy needed to come, take their pacis, and give them to the babies in heaven that didn’t have any pacis (nice, I know, lying to our kids), and that the paci fairy would leave them special treats in place of their pacis.
We used a little box we had as our paci fairy box, and that night before putting them to sleep we had them put all their pacis into the box (they had quite the collection) and we put the box outside their bedroom door.
They went to sleep easier than we expected, with minimal crying, and slept better than we expected. When they woke up the next morning, they were greeted by candy and other fun stuff in their paci fairy box. They both couldn’t believe that the paci fairy had turned their pacis into suckers!
The next few nights my son had a hard time at bed time. He would cry and was sad about his paci, but I was still nursing him, so I was able to comfort him and get him to sleep, and then he would sleep through the night just like he did before.
My daughter started sucking on her thumb to soothe herself to sleep. We thought she would just suck her thumb during the transition to help herself feel better, but now almost 10 months after taking away her paci, she still sucks her thumbs (yes, both, she’s an ambidextrous thumb sucker), and not just at night time, but all during the day and in any situation where she is feeling nervous, anxious, or unsure. We couldn’t believe that our almost 3 1/2 year old daughter picked up that habit like she’d always done it!
If there is anything we learned from our experience of taking our kids pacis away, it was to not be afraid of it and then put it off for too long. I think my son’s age of 18 months was a good age, and obviously my daughter’s age of almost 3 1/2 was too old. We were prepared for things to be much harder than they were, and we were surprised that the transition was as easy as it was.
So, if you have a toddler and you’re wondering when you should take away their paci, I would definitely say do it sooner, rather than later. Because we waited so long with my daughter, now we have to figure out how to wean her off of sucking her thumb, which is a much harder task than taking away a paci, in my opinion. We probably would have been much better off if we had taken it away when she was two or younger.
Does your toddler use a paci? What are your thoughts about weaning them from it? If you’ve successfully weaned your toddler from a paci, please share your experience with us!