paci-packing vs.backtracking

layla turned two and a half on may 14th. we decided back around march to make this date the end of the paci era. we told her weeks ahead of time that this would be happening and that we would have a "bye bye paci party" to usher in the new big girl era.

before this, when she turned two, we had scaled back paci usage to only in the car and in bed. this was mostly because at 2 years old she wasnt speaking very much or very clearly and we figured getting the big plastic thing out of her mouth all the time might help.

boy did it.

between two and two point five, this little chick exploded with language. it was great. so we figured, this is a big, talking human child, she's ready to sleep and ride and live the rest of her life without a paci. thus the bye bye party.

on tuesday, may 14th, layla took one last hit off of her paci

that is a big kid.

then we lit the candles on her half bday cake

and just like that: a new era. (thanks for the assist, judah)

it was rough. 

those first few nights were brutal, as we had expected (i hadnt expected the sentimental wave of "i'm losing my baby!" that crashed into me). she was in full-blown withdrawal and was a grump-monster terror. we searched for paci-methadone to help her come off the hard stuff more gradually.  no blankey, binky (soft burp cloths that are judah's comfort objects and which she has always enjoyed as an accompaniment to the paci), stuffed animal, or doll could fill the paci void (figuratively in her heart and literally in her mouth). jesse and i both later confessed that, in our weaker moments during our turns on layla-re-tucking-in duty,  we had each secretly tried to get her to try sucking her thumb. neither of us had luck.

2 days clean. the face of recovery. talk to your kids about paci addiction today.

we wanted to turn back and call it off SO many times. i would find a paci that had survived the throwing-out purge and hide it away...just in case. but we knew that we HAD to stand by this since we had given her our word about it. if we relented, that would just teach her that she just needed to pitch fits about it for 5 days and then we'd give in. we didnt want to be setting that precedent. 

so we did it. yesterday was 3 weeks with no paci, and i havent heard her even ask for one in 2 weeks. i had completely forgotten about my contraband reserved pacis. she was fully functional and 100% detoxed. if she encountered a baby with a paci should wouldnt even try to take it or ask for one. she had fully come to understand that those werent for her anymore.

but you guys, the BEHAVIOR lately! oh man, the attitude, the ear-melting car shrieking, the losing her mind over nothing,  the getting out of bed 6 times a night, a crazy decrease in coping skills, the REFUSAL to even allow us to put her to bed without a massive fight....oh how i've aged.

this kid used to be a championship level sleeper. i would go to rock her and sing to her and she would point to her crib and grunt, "bed" before i could even get to the first chorus. that child had disappeared. it wasnt just that we were annoyed by having to exert more effort, it was that she legitimately wasnt getting the rest she needed and it was snowballing into the next day.

i dont think we ever linked the new behavior stuff with the paci-pull. i'm still not even sure that this isnt just a 2 and a half phase she's going through.

but the last few nights i had been thinking about the paci again. thinking about awesome older kids i know who had pacis into age 3, 4, or even 5. being nostalgic about her losing all of her baby-ness, but not wanting to baby her. then i tried to put aside the idea of a "right" choice according to the world and started thinking about layla and what is best for her and us as her parents.

on one hand, i did NOT want her thinking we dont keep our word and that she can break us. but on the other side of that, i felt like we were past that on this issue. when she has been pitching fits and disobeying at bedtime, she isnt even asking for the paci, so i dont think she would even link the two the way she would have if we gave a paci back to her at the beginning of this when she was demanding one.

i begged jesse one night as we marched her back to bed for the 9th time, and he said no, that sticking with it was most important. but this was wearing on him too.  then we asked my mother in law what she thought. she has kept the kids a bunch this summer and has noticed layla's much shorter fuse and ability to cope with really silly little things. she said she has seemed tired a lot of the time and refuses to take naps at their house (and even asking for pacis during attempted naps...long after i thought she had forgotten them). 

jesse and i talked about it again and decided that it might be better for layla to have the paci at bedtime again. (GROWLSCREECH! even typing that makes me feel like a total pushover doormat parent). that with all the help we get with people watching the kids, maybe it wasnt fair to ask them to manage a sleep-deprived toddler if there was an easy solution. maybe it wasnt fair to US to deal with that. and that it certainly isnt fair to layla to let her repeatedly be without sufficient rest. 

i reintroduced it to her yesterday at naptime. i told her she had done a great job being a big girl and telling her paci goodbye, but that mommy and daddy had decided that she should have it at bedtime so that she would hopefully get more rest. i tried not to say we changed our minds or attach it in any way to the previous decision. this was a NEW thing, not going back on a previous thing. 

her eyes lit up like she had been dusted with disney  magic or ecstasy or something. i gave her a paci and put her in bed. she burrowed into her pillow and snuggled up under her blanket like i hadnt seen in almost a month. it was like i had shot a tranquilizer dart at her. dont call it a relapse

i'm not sure if we made the right decision. i get worried about what people will think, i worry that we're stunting her maturity, that we're taking the easy way out, that we're just setting up a bigger battle later. that we are enabling an attachment that is unhealthy and that we had already beaten! (thats a BIG fear).

those thoughts have been pinging around my brain nonstop since yesterday. i'm trying to find peace in the "she'll do it when she's ready" mindset, which potty training is also firmly plopped into (pun) right now. 

so yeah. blerg. this parenting thing is hard. even first-world problems like this one--with no real "bad" outcome-- can really eat up your heart and your mind and get you so twisted. 

so, advice: have you ever gone back on a boundary or rule that you had firmly set up for your kids? was it the right move? is it ever?!?!

what are your thoughts on comfort objects, pacis, bedtimes and the "too old for" thinking? 


  1. I have never commented here before and don't like to comment as I really like to stay in the anonymous zone- but I have had three paci kids and understand your pain so much, i couldn't resist (plus I love you and your blog and your children).
    I do NOT think you are doing anything wrong. Truthfully, as parents, we love and know our kids better than ANYONE else- even if they are seasoned veterans or child psychologists. Only we truly know as parents to our own children what is best for THEM as we are all different and need to follow our guts instinctually no matter what the heck anyone else thinks. I can't stand the judgy universal "parent" rules. Total crap.
    SO do not beat yourself up over what anyone else may think- do what feels right.

    I will however, tell you what worked for me three times and maybe you should try. While you have given her back her paci- attach it with one of the paci attach clips to some sort of blanket or lovie. Let the two become one. NEVER give her the paci without that stuffed animal or blanket or WHATEVER attached. Then let her have it that way for the next six months. When you decide you want to try again (and really, you forgot a very important reason to get rid of the paci early- which is teeth and mouth problems on your palate that long term use can cause), when you take the paci away- she will still have the "lovie". I did this from birth with all three of my kids, and while all had a few days of want for the paci when we took it away at 2- their sleep pattern was never interrupted. That "lovie" was just as good and snuggly for them.

    Give it a try....
    Hope that helps...

  2. My son was super attached to his soother (our word for paci) until he turned 2. That was my deadline for taking it away. And for him, it wasn't just bedtime, it was pretty much ALL the time he would be seen walking around with his soother and his little piggy. Anyways, I tried taking it away and it was a nightmare for a couple days, so I decided to follow in the footsteps of my aunt. I took a pair of scissors, cut the nipple off so it was just a "nub", and gave it back to him telling him it was broken. He was very focused on the fact that it was "uh-oh, bwoken", but he wasn't upset. If he was desperate, he could still suck on it but had to hold it in or it would fall out of his mouth so he never used it for more than a few seconds at a time. Even when he stopped using it, he still HAD TO have it at bedtime, he would not sleep without it. But instead of it being in his mouth, he would hold it in his hand. So it was still a comfort object but without all the problems associated with long-term use :) After a couple of weeks of taking it to bed with him for naps or bedtime, and showing it to everyone he met and explaining that it was broken, he completely forgot about it. I think, in hindsight, it gave him the transition time he needed from using it, to having it but not using it, to not needing it. Don't know if this would work with Layla, but it worked wonders for us. Best of luck!

  3. We allowed our son to use his paci for sleeping only until he was 3-ish. Once he chewed through them, we had him throw them in the trash (obviously a safety issue and what a perfect time to get rid of them permanently!). Whenever he asked about them, we reminded him that they went bye-bye in the trash. It was rough for a few days, but it is soooo much better now!

    When it comes down to it, as the parents, you guys know her better than anyone. Do what feels right. You'll know when the time is best to break the paci addiction. Good luck!

  4. While I have no real paci tips (neither of my kiddos liked them), it is so refreshing to read about another mom struggling with what to do and when. I have a 3 year old boy that is just not ready to potty train. I put A LOT pressure on myself as I watched my friends potty train their much younger kids so easily. But after three weeks of trying (really hard), he just wasn't progressing. It was embarassing (to tell our daycare lady)and other people that we were going to stop and wait. I sometimes feel like he won? or I am a quitter. But down deep in my gut, I know that this is the right thing for Him. God makes us our kiddos mommies for a reason. We know them best and sometimes doing things just because they seem right isn't right. I think how you have handled Layla is great. I also like the suggestion above about attaching it to another lovie. I hope you will share with us how it all works out.

  5. When we tried to take our daughter's paci at 2 we had a week of horrid bedtimes with her crying for 45 minutes even while being rocked before she was just too exhausted to stay awake and slumped into a puddle. After 5 nights with absolutely no improvement, we told her that the paci fairy must have forgotten one of her paci's and she got that one back. We just knew that she wasn't ready, and even as she's gotten older it takes a little longer for her to detach herself from things that are "hers." A month or so later I clipped the end of that one paci with scissors, told her it was broken and we had to send it away to get fixed. It was totally logical and she bought it. The paci was gone, and she would definitely ask when it was going to be fixed, but after a few days of peaceful bedtimes I told her it couldn't be fixed and we wouldn't get it back. She said, "poor paci." And that was that. She asked about it from time to time (even made a little lego paci for her lego boy...cute little coping mechanisms for loss) but bedtimes were peaceful and the paci was gone. Win/win. At first I was concerned about "backtracking" but I knew that the sleep for her and for us was more important and that we would get to a better place, and we did. We all do the best we can for our kids and family, and I think you did the right thing.

  6. This was literally our exact scenario (age and everything) back in January. Only difference was that our daughter, Ellery, seemingly would go to nap/bed without much of a fit - which left us assuming that she was getting enough sleep. WRONG! She turned into a TERROR - like nothing I have ever seen. Finally, a week later and after talking with her teacher at school (who had also noticed a major shift in her personality) asked if we had taken her paci away recently. Said she talked about it ALL the time at school (but rarely mentioned it at home). We gave it back that night (insert guilt), and she went back to being the well rested, rock star sleeper that she is. So yeah, we're in the same boat. My almost 3 yo still has her paci for nap/bed and I'm dreading taking it away. LOVE your blog - never commented before but have wanted to so many times. Thanks for being so real. And keep up the good work - you're a great mom!

  7. Don't stress it! I sucked my thumb, and both my kids suck their thumb. I can't make a thumb-faci come in and snatch them away. The sucking/soothing thing is natural. I fight a lot of battles in this house, and thumb-sucking is just not one of them. They barely do it during the day, but at night, I clearly have no control, so I just let it go. Hope that helps. No judgment here.

  8. Hi Keight! I'm speaking as a mother of grown (31 & 22..lol) children. My oldest was soooo attached to his paci! I talked to his pediatrician about it and he told me not to worry about it, that he wouldn't take it to college. haha And for me not to push it, that he would let me know when he was ready. He said if I took it away before he was ready that he might start sucking him thumb and you can't take that from him. In other words, thumb sucking is a much bigger problem. Anyway, he gave it up around 3...we left it for the Easter bunny and he got a motorized 3 wheeler! Great trade! He never asked for his paci again and there were no fits or tantrums. All this to say that every child is different and only you (and Layla of course!) will know when she is ready. Good luck!!

  9. Kudos to having your parenting priorities in order. Annabel was 3.5 when she finally gave hers up, and apparently I'm echoing a lot of other parents here when I say that (#1) I've been there with the stand-making and the sleep-hijacking and the back-tracking, (#2) I applaud you for following your parenting gut in what seems best for Layla, and (#3) when she's really ready, it probably won't be a huge deal. We waited several months after our initial failed paci-fairy attempts and when the time was right, God must have known because we literally lost the last pacifier, and after a couple days she forgot about it. I was kind of in shock when it happened. I NEVER thought the day would come as she had been a hardcore addict her entire life, but miraculously, the moment arrived and passed without any fanfare. So, I have no regrets about waiting for that time to come. I don't think you will either.

  10. I really hope the long comment I just wrote actually published...if it did...awesome. If it didn't...the short version is, you rock as a mom. You put Layla's emotional wellbeing and your parenting instincts first. Kudos.

  11. I completely agree with Debra. You are awesome for doing what is best for Layla!

  12. Awesome comments!! Hope you're feeling relief about your decision!

  13. After 2 weeks post detox from the paci our 2.5 year old started exhibiting the same thing you described here. I remembered this post and made the husband read it in order to support my case for giving the paci back. It worked and now we have a much happier toddler and parents. Thanks!