How to Break the Pacifier Addiction

by Joelle Wisler
Originally Published: 

This was harder than I thought. Way harder. She’s a stubborn one though, and she loved herself some binky-time. For anyone else out there looking at your children’s teeth and seeing a seriously ticked-off pre-teen in your future, I want you to know that I made it to the other side of our pacifier addiction, and you can too.

Here’s how:

1. Ensure a firm addiction. You aren’t really that big of a deal unless your kid has a serious attachment. Do their eyes light up when they see the Pacifier? Do they sneak it out of the Put-Away Drawer when you are taking a shower? Do they sometimes need a mid-day pull off that thing? If so, they are appropriately addicted.

2. Decide on the day. I chose a time period when I knew my husband was going to be gone on a business trip. This may seem like I was being really nice to my husband, but in reality, I did this because the only thing worse than dealing with your toddler not sleeping, is dealing with your partner AND your toddler not sleeping.

3. Talk to your child about what is going to happen. “You are going to be a Big Kid and Big Kids don’t need their Binky!” Prepare for them not caring a hoot about being a Big Kid and, in general, being more ticked off and irrational than normal. Forget about them ever getting into their carseat without screaming, eating any food you have prepared for them, or letting you ever assist them with clothing-related tasks. Alternately, they might start putting the word “Baby” in front of their name and wanting to rock and cuddle a lot.

4. Just go for it. They will seem shocked that first day or night when you put them in their bed without the Pacifier. Truly shocked. Even if you have spent hours of your life explaining to them that this was going to happen. They will cry and scream and it is simultaneously heart-breaking and fear-inducing. Convince yourself that the first day will be the worst.

5. Don’t tell Grandma that any of this is happening or she may come and try to rescue your child from you and your mean parenting. Of course, you had your Binky until you were three and the braces to prove it.

6. Stay strong. You will be amazed at their stamina and their capacity for holding a grudge. They will be genuinely annoyed with you on day two. You won’t do anything right; pouring milk, playing puzzles, reading books, breathing. They know that you are trying to suck up to them and they are punishing you.

7. Busy yourself through the crying. Spend your time frantically giving away all of your remaining baby items, because there is no way you are ever doing this again.

8. Prepare for the bargaining. They will want to trade their special blanket or baby doll in for the binky. Their cries at nap-time are more sad than angry. You must stay strong, especially now. You will start to get a little frazzled at this point. You may or may not have your own little temper tantrum while putting clothes away, slamming drawers and talking to yourself and genuinely losing your mind. You may even text your partner a few hundred times during an important meeting to see if they could change their flight and come home earlier.

9. Resort to tough love. On the third day, after three full days of crying through naps, approximately 4 and 1/2 hours of crying altogether, you can get them up and say, “That’s it. Your binky is gone. No more crying.” And they might say, “No more crying?” in a pitiful little voice. And you say, “NO MORE crying.”

10. Euphoria will set in the moment you lay them down and they simply…fall asleep. It will feel like the greatest victory of your existence. Sadly. And then, inevitably, they will find that one pacifier that escaped your notice, perhaps the one that they had strategically wedged between the couch cushions in case of an emergency. You will find your very quiet toddler tucked in a corner somewhere, binky in place, looking extremely guilty. You must then begin again. Be strong out there. And that will be it.

So, good luck out there with your own pacifier-addicted children. It’s a tough road but you can do it. Really.

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