S has used a pacifier from about 2 weeks old. I found he slept better and it helped with his colic/reflux and so I was happy to give him one. I can’t say I felt that same happiness at 6 months when the pacifier would fall out and he’d wake up crying for it. He was too young to pop it back in himself and so I had to wake every 40 minutes to do it. The only way he’d sleep well without it (or in general) was if he was sleeping beside me…and so co-sleeping began. It gave us the good night’s sleep we both needed.
Fast forward 2 years and I wanted to break the habit but he only really used it to sleep. Even if it fell out, he didn’t really need it, unless he stirred at 5am and I’d pop it back in to get an extra couple of hours sleep. S was never the best sleeper and so any extra sleep was welcomed! When he finally hit 3, I thought that’s it, I can’t have these pacifier’s around anymore. I also felt that he was old enough for me to explain why I was taking it away and I didn’t have to break the habit but leaving him crying without it. But then we were going away to India & Sri Lanka on holiday so I decided to wait until we got back mid-April.
Finally, one evening, the first week of May, I forgot to take one up with me when putting him to bed. He asked for it and I said “Princess Holly took it to wash it and hadn’t brought it back yet.” S is a fan of Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom (the TV show) and he’s got a great imagination so I was banking on him playing along with me. He asked me a couple of questions about it and then settled down to sleep. However, 5 minutes later he asked again. I gave him the same answer about Princess Holly. This went on for about half an hour. He was kicking about a bit but I stayed with him and reassured him that I’d check with her when she would be bringing it back.
The next night, he asked me for it and I told him she hadn’t brought it back yet but as he was a big boy now, she’d offered to take all his pacifier’s away in exchange for a present and I asked him what he’d like. I knew he’d gotten a Peppa Pig Space Rocket for his birthday which I’d put away so I offered him that. He agreed and I said “Let’s say bye-bye paci” and tomorrow you’ll get a present. He was quite happy with that.
On the third day, I wrapped up the present, hid it, got him to find it and made a really big deal out of it. He was very excited! That night he asked me for his pacifier but before I could say anything he said “Mama, I said bye-bye paci and Princess Holly bought me a Space Rocket.” I smiled and agreed and he fell asleep quickly.
3 nights and that was it, done! His sleeping improved so much, a part of me wished I’d done it sooner. However, I was glad that I was able to do it without tears or him wandering why they suddenly disappeared. For the first couple of weeks he was rising slightly earlier but thankfully that didn’t last too long.
I believe we all need a bit of magic and make believe sometimes. And if it means me getting what I want (pacifier gone) and S getting what he wants (a present), then I’m all for it!
Have you tried to break the habit? What method worked for you and how old was your child when you did it?