My Son Still Uses a Pacifier at Night. There, I Said It.

Maybe we should have never introduced it. I remember his infancy distinctly: he didn’t initially take to the pacifier. Now, nearly three years later, I’m wondering why I forced it on him and why I’m in the position of now forcing him off it.

I am embarrassed. I never thought I would be “that mother.” You know, the one I was silently judging before I was her, the one whose big kid “should have” been pacifier weaned already. Funny how things change. I am also almost the mother whose child rides in the stroller with his feet dragging. Almost. I still have some dignity.

I’ve talked about this before. And then I talked about how he’s ready for head start because he can count and knows his letters and is probably a prodigy and I haven’t figured it out yet. And yet, this is still happening:

In fact, this boy seems to be relying on the pacifier, his blanket, and his bear an awful lot lately.

He only has one “pass” and uses it only at home at nap and bedtime. He doesn’t use it at school and he doesn’t take it when he spends the night with family. So, clearly, it’s us (more specifically, it’s me). But lately, he’s been asking for it outside of bedtime. He’s been having more meltdowns and at their end, his first request is for his pass, then either the blanket or the bear, or both; sometimes he asks for all three. I have no clue what’s going on with him.

I snipped the sides of the pass last night. He put it in his mouth, took it out, looked it over, put it back in, laid down. He’ll never fall for the pacifier fairy or giving it to needy babies. I’ve considered a bribe: a new toy if he throws it away. I’ve considered “losing” it. I’ve considered soaking it in something like coffee so it is displeasing. A friend suggested snipping the end to eliminate the suction. I thought I’d done that with the sides!

The girls used pacifiers too. We took it from our oldest daughter when she turned one. She screamed ”My pass! Want my paaaaaaaaaaaaaaaass!” for three nights and then things went back to normal. The middle girl simply said OK when I asked her to put hers in the trash at 18 months. And now here we are at almost 3 and he shows no signs of being able to split with the pass. I’ve noticed a slight overbite starting to develop. I know it’s time, especially since he is fully able to fall asleep without it as evidenced at daycare every day.

I’m just having a hard time reconciling myself with purposely causing him angst. Oh, he is going to pitch a fit never before seen this side of Earth once it’s gone. I fully intend for it to be gone before he starts at the elementary school next month, even if we have to go cold turkey. But the getting there part? That’s what I can’t imagine. When he cries now, I simply can’t take it (unless he’s done something so outrageous that my You Must Have Lost Your Mind; Your Cries Have No Effect On Me force field comes up).  I don’t know why this is proving to be so different from our experiences with the girls. Is it because he is our (maybe) last? I don’t know. All I know is it’s time to get rid of the pass and I simply don’t know how (how = an avenue unlikely to end in tears from him, me, or both).

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  1. I’m going to be the devil’s advocate here: really, if he can get through daycare without it, and wants it at home for nighty-night, what’s the harm? He’s still got baby teeth, right, so it’s not like you’re already staring at orthodontia bills…Where is it written that he *must* get rid of the paci now? I would imagine that he’s needing it now precisely BECAUSE school is starting next month. What’s the harm, if he understands that it’s just at night & has to stay under his pillow or whatever? Full disclosure: my younger son kept a pacifier at night until … er… um…he was almost seven. Yes. I know. Humiliating. But I just figured he needed it and we were in the middle of our huge move to Abu Dhabi so…and then on his birthday he decided it was gross and that was that. Not saying your son should have a paci THAT long (mommy fail, c’est moi), but really…what’s the harm? Boys are slower, maybe he’s more sensitive…maybe he’s “the baby.” So I’d be a vote for “let it go, lady…”

  2. I have the same problem with Zavie and his bear. He would carry his bear around all over the place if we would let him. Well, maybe I should say if Scrooge would let him because I’d cave in and let him have it probably. Now we only let him have it at nap and bedtime. We should probably take it from him because it’s obvious that he’s dependent on that bear to go to sleep, but I feel like I’m trying to take his best buddy in the world away so I tell myself that it’s ok just at night time….plus it’ll give me a good excuse to never deal with sleepovers…right? how can there be sleepovers if he’s sleeping with a bear at 14 :)
    Tell me when you decide to try and I’ll stick some ear plugs in the mail to you because if his screams are anything like Zavie’s are I know you’ll need them :)

    p.s. I’m with The Boy….I wouldn’t buy the Pacifier Fairy either.

  3. Maybe a boy thing? My daughter was cavalier when her’s went bye-bye. Matt on the other hand, about the same age, cried for two days then somehow found one under our bed that we didn’t knw was there. We had to start all over again. Plain dreadful.

    Don’t beat yourself up over it. He won’t go to school with it. (btw, our friends told us to cut the rubber off of them to start the process. But the key is to know where they all are which we didn’t).

  4. Confession: Miss M. had hers until she was four. *hangs head in shame*

  5. I have to say that as I was reading this that I was thinking it is because he is your baby. He doesn’t use it that often and he can do without it. His time will come when he is done with and probably sooner than you think. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

  6. Oh, those things we judge others for – they are tough little buggers – because we judge ourselves even more harshly. Don’t.

    I bet you know how they go through needy phases (mine did and do) – is he in one? If so, let him keep the paci and you can keep the peace. He’ll feel bigger again soon. Then, whisk it away with smiles and praise.

  7. Found your blog thanks to Voices of the Year :) excellent post and you did a great job with the reading.

    We have the same issue with my almost 3yo. Naps fine at daycare without a paci, but still takes one at night at home…and has no interest in giving it up. Sigh. No answers here either but you are not alone!

  8. Hey there! Thanks for stopping by my blog & commenting!

    I wouldn’t be so hard on yourself for being the one to introduce him to the pass. I think he’ll probably pitch the same fit that your oldest did, but like you said, he’s clearly ready and will be OK. He’s not even going to remember the angst of having to let it go. Also, not that this is helpful, but I think having to part with a pacifier is better than thumb-sucking, because how do you get the kid to stop sucking on something attached to their body?! I was a thumb sucker, and I think my mom gave away my favorite sucking blanket that I would hold. Clearly, I don’t even remember :)

  9. As I was reading your story all I kept thinking was he must be going thru something right now, that probably has to do with you. ( No offense) just because he only needs these comfort measures with you. Is there any chance that maybe he is feeling a little jealous or unincluded in your quality time with him? I know the problem with my youngest was also that she was the youngest of 7 and she got sooo used to everyone treating her like the baby, even when she turned 3 and ready to start being the big girl that she would just get this ” fine if your gonna treat me like a baby then I will act like one!” attitude!
    I would suggest about the only thing you can do and that’s try and figure out what the problem is and fix it first. If he feels secure then he won’t need security measures anymore. Then you can make a huge deal about what it is to be a big boy and how big boys don’t use paci’s so if he wants the “perks” of being a big boy then he has to act like one 100%!

  10. My daughter is almost 3.5. She still has her pacifier at night. Actually, she has a basket full of them that she sleeps with her hand in. She can’t have them out of her room and doesn’t have them for naps at school. But she has them at night. And I’m fine with it. If she was still nursing, I would still nurse her for comfort at bedtime, so I see it as the same thing. I know our society teaches us that 3.5 is grown up and the kid should be doing a long list of things, but they are really just little kids. They are still figuring out how to navigate this big crazy world around them. If having a basket full of soothers helps my daughter sleep well and be comforted at night, then I’m all for it.

  11. Astrid sucks her thumb. And I never make her take it out. She’ll be that ‘thumb-sucker’ in third grade that everyone makes fun of. Awesome.

  12. My son had his till 3rd birthday. I told him his big boy teeth would make holes in them once he was three. the day he turned 3, I handed him one with the tip cut, and when he said this is broken, I said oh my goodness! It’s happened!

    I expected a week of sobbing and sleepless nights. He went to bed immediately and never looked back, handed a bag of them to Santa a few weeks later. Give it a shot!

  13. I must admit that Jude had his until he turned…FOUR! So I think you’re doing damned well. Please read this –
    , the story of how Jude finally gave it up. It’s pretty bittersweet.

  14. All I know is that everything is harder with the baby. ;)

  15. I am the wrong person to ask, as my 4.5 year-old still sleeps in her crib (she has had a bed in her room waiting for her for 6 months) and has a pacifier at night. You know what I think? She won’t go to college with either one of those things, so I have bigger fish to fry than pick a battle over this. It is her security and comfort, so I go with it. :)

  16. At first I was like, “WHAT?!?” Lol…..and then I saw the blanket. That’s the same one my 2.5 year old uses! Yay! What’s the chance, eh? You know they change designs every year! Ha. Now, I guess I should go back and read the rest of this post.
    Okay, how about offering a treat every night he chooses to go w/o it? Like his favorite, fruit snack, ice cream or cookie. Yes, I’m talking straight bribery, lol.

  17. The girl, who is now 15 1/2, drank from a bottle until she was four years old. I had no problem with it because if I had something that made me feel that happy, I would destroy anyone who took it away from me.

    And I was far more permissive, since I would sometimes take it with her into her preschool class. It’s weird that a kid who could read and do math would also be slurping milk out of her bottle, but whatever. She’s pretty well-adjusted and pretty and I like her.

    And I like you. And your boy. Who looks like a dream.


    • I love having a new way to look at it: it makes him happy, what’s the big deal? Is there really a magical age to get rid of it? I mean, sure, there may be braces in his future because of it, but it makes him happy NOW. I’m more concerned about the now.

      It IS a year and dammit, don’t go reminding me!

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