Before I had my first, I swore I would never have a “paci kid” who constantly had a pacifier their mouth like Maggie on The Simpsons. But then I had one and like many new moms, I was eager to soothe my crying newborn long enough to eat, go to the bathroom, shower, or even take a nap. I shoved my finger in that little soothie pacifier the hospital gave me and prayed she would take it. When that one didn’t work, I took the advice of friends and bought one of every other kind of pacifier there is. She seemed to like one and so I kept giving it to her soothe her and help her sleep. When she spit it out, I popped it right back in. We hopped on that paci train and rode it hard. We had a handful of pacifiers in case any got lost. We had those paci clips that were attached to her stroller, the car seat, and her shirt. I even had a little teeny pacifier purse that clipped onto her car seat.
Because I didn’t want a full-fledged paci kid, after she was about 4 or 5 months old, I only gave her one for sleeping and car rides. I stopped clipping it to her and kept it out of sight with the exception of in the car. Even when she was upset or cranky, I tried other ways to soothe her. And she was fine. We were all fine. Until my second daughter was born. I slowly became more lax about it as I was dealing with a newborn and a 15-month-old. Desperate times call for desperate measures! By then, she called it “pie”, knew where one was since there were always multiples in her crib in case one fell out and felt at ease going to get one when she was upset. Likewise, I felt at ease when she wasn’t whining or crying while I was trying to nurse and care for her newborn sister! I had started reading articles about how to wean her off it, but decided, Nah, let’s wait until she’s 18 months old.
By the time she was 2 years old, she was a closet paci kid. I say closet because I didn’t let her have it outside of the home, with the exception of in the stroller or car. Even so, the thing was like a crutch and we couldn’t go anywhere without one. I had anxiety whenever packing for trips or vacations, making sure I had extras. And yet this didn’t bother me that much because car rides, plane rides, naps, and bedtime were a piece of cake. Pop that thing in and magically she stopped crying, could focus, and be soothed. And then, we took her to the dentist. Just as I feared, it was suggested that she stop using it as soon as possible, that her mouth was indeed forming to the pacifier. But then she added: if both parents had braces, the chances of her needing braces were high regardless of pacifier use. Soooo, you’re telling me I can wait? Well, the sooner the better and the younger they are, the easier it will be. Great! So, we’ll just wait it out some more…
At 3 years old, there was no way she was going to give that paci up. We had hit our deadline we set in our head and she was still a paci kid. I decided to not buy anymore and if they got lost, well that was it. We tried reading a couple of books about being a big girl and giving your paci to a baby who needs it. Nope, not going to happen. She was ADDICTED to that paci. “I want my paci!” was whined, yelled, and cried several times a day. It was still only used at home and in the car, but now it was whenever she was upset, which if you have or had a 3-year-old, you know that’s many times a day! I talked to friends and my dentist who urged me to just take it away cold turkey. I’m too much of a wimp, so I chose baby steps. I limited use of her paci to her room which I thought would help wean her, but she had no problem just staying in her room. Then, I limited it to her bed, but again, she enjoyed just staying in her bed. Sometimes all she needed was “a hit” and she’d come back out and play. I tried one of those calming glitter bottles as another means for self-soothing. It worked, but with a paci in her mouth. I tried poking a tiny hole in the end, but she figured that one out and would scream for another one.
Then, I heard about the Paci Fairy and paid $20 bucks for the book, The Paci Fairy by Melissa Burnett. Seeing as she was all into pink and princesses, I thought for sure this would work. So we tried it. I read the book a few times, talked about how the Paci Fairy is going to come and give her a new dress (which is what she chose). For a couple weeks, we talked and prepped, talked and prepped. And then one morning, I took her paci and hid it. She FREAKED out! I told her the Paci Fairy came and flew off with it to give to a new baby. My husband didn’t lock the door behind him that morning and she RAN out the door calling, “Come back Paci Fairy!”
After that, we definitely weren’t going to do the Build A Bear thing; I imagined her tearing up that bear with her teeth to get to her paci! I couldn’t take the stress of getting rid of her paci. Like I said, I’m a wimp and this was just too hard seeing how upset she was. I mean, how bad is it to just let her have it? She’ll eventually grow out of it like kids do sucking their thumb. She’ll probably need braces anyway and she doesn’t have speech issues, so what’s the harm? I even heard from one pediatric dentist that if they get rid of it by 4 years of age, the shape of their mouth will revert to normal. That was all the confirmation I needed. I decided we’ll just go ahead and wait it out, again.
A few weeks later, I took the girls to visit my mom in Florida by myself. It was a rough trip. Since I stuck to my decision to not buy any more pacifiers, there were only a few coveted left-four to be exact. There was one in each of our cars, one in her bed, and one spare hidden in a drawer. We bought one from my car and the one she usually sleeps with on our trip. The paci saved my sanity that trip. I was sick and the girls clung to me like white on rice. It was very exhausting. Needless to say, with my foggy, congested head, I misplaced her blue paci on the way back. When we got home and it was time for bed, she freaked out. “Where’s my blue paci?!” I panicked. I really had no idea where it went. I told her to just use the red one from my car and she was so distraught, it didn’t matter the color and she took it. Then, I remembered the Paci Fairy. Pure parenting genius! I told her the Paci Fairy must have taken it and will leave her whatever she asks for. She said she wanted a purple dress. That night, I went out and bought pink sparkle thank you cards, glitter pens, and a $7 purple dress from Meijer. I wrote her a note on a card and left it and the dress in her car seat. The next morning when we got in the car to go somewhere, she was pleasantly surprised to see the card and dress. Thank God! It worked! She didn’t whine and hardly made a fuss. A week later, we did the same for her paci in my husband’s car.
Although we seemed on our way to being paci-free, I couldn’t get myself to take away the sleep paci. I tried to talk her into it since she now believed in the Paci Fairy, but she wasn’t convinced or motivated enough. I was sure she’d eventually give it up on her own and yet again decided to wait it out. Less than a month later, I noticed her speech change. I don’t know if it had been a gradual or sudden thing I hadn’t noticed before, but that Saturday morning I clearly remembering stopping to listen to her talk. It was hardly even noticeable to my husband and I can’t even describe it, but it was different. It was like her front teeth protruded and touched her bottom lip when she said ‘s’ and ‘th’ words. I didn’t think she had done that before. Later that day, we went to a neighbor’s birthday party and I talked it over with my friends. I had a few glasses of liquid courage and when we came home, I decided to do it. That would be the night. I read her the book and asked if she was ready to give her paci to Paci Town. She gave her usual excited response as she reached for her paci, popped it in her mouth, and told me she wanted a pink castle. After she quickly fell asleep and I sobered up, I went to Target and spent $50 on a stupid Little People Princess Castle. 50 bucks!! I thought, this better work!
I could hardly sleep, thinking about how to take her paci and bring the castle in her room. I was anxious about how she would react, what naps and bedtime would look like, and if she’d be a terror in general without her paci at home. And, my worst fear, what if she gave up naps totally?? The next morning, I ran downstairs as soon as I heard her stir. I managed to grab her paci as she was waking up. I had left the castle in the front room for her to find and when she saw it, she squealed with delight. I read her the note and we immediately opened the box so she could play with it. I thought, yes! Success! Later that day, she wouldn’t nap. Ugh. I tried to lay with her, massage her, read to her, sing to her, anything I could think of to get her to sleep. Nope. Crap. And then bedtime came. Magically, I was able to rub some oil and lavender on her and get her to quickly fall asleep. Come Monday and the damn Paci Fairy also left my daughter sort of terrible virus that gave her a high fever Just our luck. She was miserably sick for the next 5 days. WITH NO PACI. To get her to nap, I had to lay with her to nap, which meant me falling asleep. Bedtime took forever. And instead of 12:30pm naps and 7:30/8:00 bedtime, it was now 1:30pm naps(if she napped) and 9/9:30pm bedtime. I wanted to run out the door screaming, “Come back Paci Fairy!!”
A couple of months have passed and this is how it continues to be with naps and bedtime. Nap time has become quiet time. Some days she’ll fall asleep with me, some days on her own, and some days not at all. If she does nap, at night she won’t fall asleep until 9/9:30pm which makes for a long evening before we are kid-free for the night. I suppose I’d rather not worry about her mouth and teeth being deformed than later and longer bedtimes. But, I digress. Let’s end this story on a positive note! So the good news is, we are paci free! For at least a good year, I was discouraged and pretty sure my kid would never give up her paci. I felt like I tried all the strategies I read about to no avail. But then, the Paci Fairy saved us. Although, I think it helped that we used a gradual approach and in the end, she was ready. I may still want to cry out, “Come back Paci Fairy!” but now that her speech and mouth seem to be forming back to normal, that pixie can keep our pacis!