The Pacifier Habit

Before children, I had the idea in my head that my kids wouldn’t use a pacifier.  Neither myself or my brothers used them, though we had our own means of “pacifying” ourselves… mine was sucking my thumb.  I was forced into using it for Levi by the NICU.  Levi had to learn how to suck and the paci was the answer.  I also learned about other benefits, such as reducing the risk of SIDS and quieting him down on demand.  And Levi just looked so cute with that little plug.

At Levi’s first birthday, we decided it was time to retire the paci.  We would start off slow and restrict its use to only nap and bedtime.  The transition was EASY… out of sight, out of mind.  If it happened to be sitting out, he’d crawl over and get it, but if he didn’t see it, he didn’t even think about it.  We had two trips planned for early fall and I wanted to keep the pacifier for the flights.  Thankfully I did because we needed them… especially helpful for my cousin’s wedding and to help him sleep in foreign beds. 

Levi has always been a relatively good sleeper and after the trips I was dreading the possibility of changing that, so I kept putting it off.  He was spoiled to still have the pacifier and seemed to become more aware of its existence, immediately searching for it in his crib at bedtime.  At Christmas, while staying at my parents for a week, Levi had a few difficult nights of sleeping and suddenly the pacifier was allowed out of the crib to calm my boy.  Now I can only blame myself, for I allowed it but dreaded the growing attachment.  The new plan of action… break the habit beginning the first of the new year.

So here is how it went.  We decided to switch out his current pacifier with an old, smaller baby one.  Same kind, same shape, but smaller.  He loved it and had no problem with the “new” paci.  The next day, I switch it again with a different shape, similar to the one used in the NICU.  Still no problem using that one either.  I was hoping for some kind of rejection to these pacifiers.  The following day, the orthodontic pacifier was introduced.  He had never liked this one before, and yet sucked on it even upside down!  Day 4 at bedtime (which was last night) as I laid him down I swiped the paci without him noticing.  Said “Goodnight, I love you” and walked out of the room.  For 30 minutes, not a single peep.  Then a few complaints over the monitor, but once again silence.  Had there been success?  At 2:30am, Levi was up and crying.  After some milk, time in bed snuggling with mommy and daddy, and back to the crib still wide awake… he finally went back to sleep WITHOUT the pacifier!  I feel as though the night was rather successful.  I must endure through nap time today and the next few nights and I know the pacifier habit will be broken!

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