The following was written by editor Kara Fleck.
Recently I received a question from a reader looking for some help.
Maria asks, “My 3yo uses a pacifier at nap and nighttime, and occasionally when she’s feeling extra-vulnerable. It never comes downstairs from the bedroom, though. For dental reasons, she needs to stop. I want to respect her ability to come to this in her own time and way, but I fear she will not do so on her own.
I am looking for readers to share personal experiences of how they helped older toddlers stop pacifier use. Thanks.”
My Suggestion: Storytelling
First, it should be said that I don’t have much personal experience with toddlers and pacifiers. Of my four kids, those who have used a pacifier stopped at a fairly young age and with little need for transition time.
However, I do have a bit of experience with easing young children through transitions, so I can share that one thing that works for us is using storytelling to help ease the change.
For example, when my son was having a difficult time letting me leave him and we knew we had to prepare him for the time I would be away when his sister was born, my husband and I would tell him the story of a baby emperor penguin whose father watched over him until his mother returned. We checked out books from the library about emperor penguins and we gave him a small penguin doll.
The penguin became a symbol for Max and I truly believe helped him to feel comfortable letting his father and his grandparents care for him when I was having the baby. Penguins are still important to him to this day.
Perhaps you could create a special story for your child, reflecting the changes that need to come as they end their pacifier use that shows a reassuring resolution? It wouldn’t have to be elaborate, just a simple story illustrating the change that needs to happen in a gentle way.
Maybe something similar to contributor Robin Zipporah’s story about the Biting Bedbugs and a chewing habit could be adapted for a pacifier?
Good luck, Maria! I hope that you and your child can find a good, gentle solution for easing through this transition.
As I said, this isn’t an area where I have a lot of experience. However, I imagine that some of you Simple Kids readers do.
What about you? Do you have any experience with toddlers and pacifier use? Can you suggest a gentle way for Maria to help her toddler let go of the pacifier?
I’d really appreciate your advice about toddlers and ending pacifier use in the comments on this post, and I’m sure other readers in this situation would, too. Thanks!