In this edition of, “Do As I Say, Not As I Do”…
Do not wait until 3 years of age to break your child of a sleep crutch, in my case, the Wubbanub (pacifier).
The clinical name for a negative sleep association is called a “sleep crutch”. This represents anything that is used in children, and adults alike, to put yourself to sleep and, therefore, back to sleep. There are plenty of sleep crutches out there that, myself included (hello white noise) depend on to get good sleep:
- Human soothing prop (rocking, breast feeding, sleeping on you…)
- Battery Operated Products (white noise, mobile, swing, music)
- …and last but not least, my personal favorite arch nemesis, the pacifier!
My (just) three year old, gave her pacifiers away to the Wubbie Fairy last night in exchange for a special present – like the tooth fairy but we had to make sure the present was epic as we just threw out her best friends in all the world.
This was not easy…on me. I knew, all the while, that I needed to end the Wubbie Lovefest sooner and I just flat out refused. She is my baby, the last baby I will ever have, she won’t go to college with a pacifier so why not let her enjoy it while she can?
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians recommend limiting or stopping pacifier use around 6 months but if you have gone a bit too far, like myself, know that most children are emotionally ready to wean off the pacifier by 2-4 years.
Here are a list of some helpful ways to wean pacifier use, that I probably should have done quite some time ago:
- Make a calendar – a countdown to when they will be a big boy/girl and be ready to give up their pacifier
- Tell others (around your child) about success stories, “Bobby hasn’t used his paci all morning, can you believe it? I’m so proud of him.”
- Start allowing the pacifier only during stressful/new situations and/or sleep times
- Encourage them to connect with other “lovies” – perhaps something that smells like you
- Create pacifier-free periods throughout the day – focus on a specific game or toy for a certain amount of time, until it is “paci time again”
- Make sure there is something in it for them! A new toy, a new/old lovie to snuggle with, something they pick out always helps
- My creative sister-in-law used gold coins and check-in “phone calls” with the pacifier fairy!
This transition may be a bit harder on you than it is on them, think first day of school. I cried here and there for over a week, knowing this was coming. I mean what cruel human being throws out their child’s best friends and safety source? Kate cried for her “wubbie” and took 1.5 hours to fall asleep last night, then woke at 4am because she couldn’t put herself back to sleep. From now on I will be gently helping her independently soothe herself to sleep and back to sleep for as long as she may need. Here we go again…