Paci, binky, chewie, soothie…there are a lot of creative names for it, but you know what I’m talking about. No matter what you call it, you probably have a love/hate relationship with the pacifier.
Before P and C were born, my husband and I debated whether we wanted to deal with pacifiers or not. We had some friends whose two-year-old was still very much attached to her “ba-ba,” and she would hoard as many as she could find so her parents couldn’t take them from her.
We asked our friends what would happen if all the pacifiers just disappeared one day, and they told us their daughter would probably throw a three-day tantrum—yikes! That experience sparked a discussion between us about whether or not we felt it would be worth it to use something that we would eventually take away.
When delivery day came, we still hadn’t made a decision. The day after they were born we ventured down to the NICU to be with the girls, and lo and behold, they were sucking on pacifiers!
We were really surprised the nurses would give them pacifiers without checking with us first, but then we were told about the benefits of using a pacifier when you have a preemie (or two, in our case), and we let it go.
I’m sure if we had been insistent on not using them, the nurses would’ve been fine with throwing them away. Since we weren’t determined either way, it was easy to go along with using them.
There are quite a few benefits of using pacifiers. In our case, the pacifiers helped the girls learn to suck, which in turn helped them eat on their own without a feeding tube.
Pacifiers are comforting to a baby, and they can be a nice alternative to being a “human pacifier.” It’s also been suggested that the use of a pacifier at naps and bedtime can help reduce the risk of SIDS.
For an interesting look at some of the pros and cons of using pacifiers, I like this article from Baby Center. Ultimately though, the decision is yours and you shouldn’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
Our Use Of Pacifiers
The girls started out on Avent Soothie Pacifiers, and when we tried to make the switch to a more traditional paci, they weren’t having it. We ended up using purple and pink Soothie pacifiers for the entire first year.
In the NICU and when the girls came home, they had pacifiers almost all the time. If they weren’t eating or playing, they had a pacifier in their mouth.
After a while, we started recognizing that they were only determined to have them for comfort in the car and when they were going to sleep, and the rest of the time the girls just held onto them because they happened to be close by.
Once we noticed this, we started restricting paci time to the car and crib, and the girls had no problem with that. If it was out of sight, they didn’t long to have it.
We paid close attention to how the girls behaved in the car and decided to eliminate the use of pacis in the carseats next. That ended up happening around month six, and the girls didn’t even seem to notice. They had toys and books to distract them, and that was enough to keep them content until we arrived at our destination.
Once we eliminated pacifiers in the car, they were for naptime and bedtime only.
Around month eight, P and C were able to locate the pacifiers in the crib and grab them themselves, and that was helpful for us because it meant less crying due to pacifier loss.
Of course, they also started dropping the pacifiers out of the crib intentionally, and we would have to keep going in their room to retrieve them. That got old pretty quick, and we decided we wanted to be done with pacifiers by their first birthday.
We began researching the best methods to wean babies off pacifiers, and we found several great ideas. First we tried to take them away cold turkey, but that was not the best approach for P and C. While there are success stories with this method, it was definitely not the right move for our girls.
I’m sure if we had stuck with it for several days it would’ve been fine, but when you have two babies screaming it’s easy to get overwhelmed quickly. We decided to try to cut the pacifiers instead.
The Method That Worked For P & C
The cutting method is super simple; it just takes longer. The basic concept is that you poke a hole through the tip of the pacifier, and then make that hole bigger and bigger each night.
We were a little lazier than that and made our cuts several days apart, so it took longer than it could have.
The first night, we poked a hole in the pacifiers with a needle, and then sterilized them. The holes were so small that you could barely see them, but girls seemed to notice a difference right away. They looked at us with confused expressions but they still took the pacifiers, so we decided it must not have been that bad.
We waited several days, and then poked 5-6 more holes around the first one with the needle, and sterilized them. Again, the girls seemed to notice but they weren’t bothered. We waited several days again, and then made all the tiny holes into one bigger hole.
We repeated this processes with several days in between each cut, and each time the girls responded the same way: they were slightly confused and noticed each difference, but they didn’t seem to care. There were a couple nights where they fussed a little more or a little longer, but they always went to sleep.
We got to the point where we were cutting back far enough that they actually started putting their thumbs through the holes and sucking on them so it seemed like a normal pacifier, which we thought was very resourceful of them.
When the pacifiers were cut back far enough that they were really more discs than anything else, we noticed that P and C just wanted to hold them. It was as though they were still comforting to have, even if they couldn’t suck on them.
We knew we were close to eliminating the pacifiers entirely, and we were rapidly approaching their first birthday. To help them understand what was going to happen, we began telling them things like, “You only get your pacis for one more week. Then, we aren’t going to use them anymore,” or “Soon you’re going to be a whole year old, and you won’t need these!”
I know people might have different opinions, but in this house we’ve always believed that P and C are able to understand more than people gave them credit for. We felt that telling them what was going to happen would help the transition go more smoothly.
One night, right around their first birthday, we didn’t give them pacifiers at bedtime. They noticed and they let us know that they weren’t too happy about it, but they were so tired that they went to sleep anyway. After that first night, it was like they forgot all about pacifiers. We were just completely done with them!
Life Without Pacifiers
We’re now about a month into our pacifier-free life, and we are celebrating our determination to be done with them early. P and C seem completely content without them, and bedtime and naptime are easier now that they don’t drop the pacifiers out of the crib and then cry until they get them back.
We’re thankful for one less item to keep track of, and we’re glad we won’t have to deal with this process later. We believe that if we’d waited until they were older and had an even better understanding of what was happening, it would’ve been more difficult. Maybe that’s true and maybe it isn’t; we wont know for sure.
I think each family needs to decide what is best for them and their kids, and I’m not here to pass judgment on those who wait longer than we did. One thing I know for sure, though, is that this was the right move for our family! We love our paci-free life!
Read more about our family life on the Parenthood page.
Hello! I am a work-at-home mom to twin girls and a canine. I’m learning what life looks like when you surrender to God. Passionate about parenthood, marriage, and all things coffee!