How We Broke Our Toddler’s Pacifier HabitCasey Mullins
Several months ago Vivi developed a bit of a “paci” dependency issue. Now, I’m not entirely sure what you call the rubber nipples attached to a plastic base in your world — with Addie we called them “binkies,” my in-laws call them “pluggies,” and there are about a hundred other names out there for these miracles that can soothe the most savage of beast.
Assuming they will take one.
Which baby Vivi never did.
However, she found one buried in a drawer earlier this year and it became her constant lover and companion. She would wail for her paci and beg to snuggle in her bed with it. We laid down rules that it was only for bedtime and that paci was never to leave the confines of her crib. Then things got real hard and we were all “SCREW IT! IF YOU WANT THE PACI AND IT MAKES YOU HAPPY THEN HAVE THE DAMN PACI.” Needless to say you pick your battles with toddlers, and this is even more true when life hands you a giant bag of rotting lemons you can’t even make lemonade with.
One of the first things I noticed was that upon regular use of the paci was that her nervous tendency of biting her nails to bloody stubs ceased almost immediately, I put that one in the somewhat “win” column. However the fact that my almost 3-year-old now had a nearly unbreakable bond with something that had to go and had to go now was a pretty serious check in the “lose” column. We kept telling each other we’d break her of it later, “When things calm down!” Which was kind of our way of saying “I’m not going to be the one to take it away, do you remember when we took Addie’s binky away? The kid cried all night and didn’t eat for three straight days.”
Earlier this month we headed up to Michigan for a few nights with friends. We had left in kind of a hurry which meant we had about a zillion things distributed amongst a zillion different bags and in all the shuffle, paci went missing. She begged for it the first night but we convinced her it was just visiting friends. The second night she didn’t even mention it and by the third night she was so deliriously worn out from playing with her little friends all day that paci wasn’t even a consideration. Our first night back home she searched frantically for paci, by then I had located it, but we decided to keep it from her. She had just made it three days without it and now seemed like a pretty good time to go without it forever.
You guys? It totally worked. Just today she said, “Blue paci didn’t like me anymore, he went away!” which sounds like a therapy bill waiting to happen but NO MORE PACI FIGHTS! No more keeping track of the stupid thing and no more worries about how we are going to break her of the habit. Her nail biting did come back, but not nearly as bad as it was before.
The goal now is to keep the house paci-free, much in the same way drug addicts must keep their homes drug-free zones — if Vivi gets a hit of that sweet molded silicone, we may never get her back from her pacifier habit.
Find more of Casey’s writing on her blog moosh in indy. She’s also available on twitter, facebook, flickr and Instagram. If you can’t find her any of those places? Check the couch, she’s probably taking a nap.