parenting toddler

I’m A Pushover When It Comes To The Pacifier

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binkie babyIt’s time for my toddler to say farewell to his beloved pacifier, but I just don’t have the heart to take it away from him.

Before my kids were born, I was ambivalent about pacifiers. Then my twins came seven weeks early and the NICU doctors told me pacifiers could be beneficial for preemies because the sucking helps them remember to breath. So I became a pacifier pusher, constantly trying to get the boys to latch on and using stuffed animals with pacifiers attached to make them more appealing. I managed to get one baby hooked, the other, not so much.

Last month the boys had their eighteen-month pediatrician visit. Everything went great, but right before he left the room our doctor commented that we should try to get rid of the pacifier as soon as possible. My husband took this as code for “get rid of the pacifier in the next twenty-four hours or else.” He insisted we start right away by denying our son the pacifier for the drive home. It was not a pleasant car ride. I’m not sure who was yelling more loudly- me or my son.

For the most part, my little guy can make it through the day okay without his trusty mouth plug. My rule is that I don’t offer it unless he asks for it. But when he’s cranky or hurt or teething all he wants is his pacifier for comfort and I can’t help but give it to him. I’m an easy target because I don’t like to see him cry. I think refusing to give it to him is pointless because one day he will decide for himself that he doesn’t need the pacifier anymore. Frankly, sometimes I just don’t have the time, energy or patience to coddle a pouty toddler and in that way the pacifier is soothing to me too.

I will admit that without the pacifier my son is more vocal. I can’t deny that his baby teeth don’t have the Colgate commercial readiness of his brother’s and perhaps the pacifier is to blame. But I’ve seen him spit the pacifier out when he wants to make an garbled exclamation and I don’t really care what his baby teeth look like. If genetics are any indicator, he’s going to need braces no matter what.

My husband thinks we’ve progressed to only using the pacifier to fall asleep at night. In reality, the afternoon nap is also accompanied by a pacifier about half the time. Sometimes I hand the pacifier to him out of habit and then I feel too guilty to take it away. Other times I consciously hand over the contraband because it’s been a rough morning and I just want him to go to sleep.

i know that as parents, we do things our children aren’t happy about because we want what’s best for them. But this isn’t as serious as taking my kids to get their vaccinations or trying make sure they get a balanced diet. I believe that eventually, when he is ready, my son will outgrow his pacifier without my having to force him. I’ve never heard of a kid going off to college with a pacifier, and I don’t think my son will be bringing his binkie to the dorm either.

(Image: pio3/Shutterstock)


  1. Music Mamma

    September 7, 2014 at 9:14 am

    My son loved his pacifier, too. We started by only giving it to him when it was time for sleep. Soon, after, there was a night when we couldn’t find one and that was it.

  2. Mette

    September 7, 2014 at 9:21 am

    I wouldn’t beat myself up about it, if I was you. Your son is only 18 months. My son used his (only to fall asleep) untill he was four, and even then we had to take it away from him. Now, 10 months later he still sometimes says he wish he could be a baby, so he could use a pacifier! A dentist once told me that taking a pacifier away too soon can result in the child sucking his thumb instead, and I would say that is worse.
    I think that you’re doing the right thing, only giving it to him when it’s time to sleep or to soothe him. Believe me, I often wish my youngest son would use one!

  3. Foreskin Magpie

    September 7, 2014 at 9:35 am

    My toddler turned 2 in May and we took his paci away at his ped’s urging, even though he had only been using it to sleep. I held out for 4 weeks, but his nap totally disappeared and I was going crazy so I ended up giving it back. My only regret is taking it away in the first place–we used to have a 30 second bedtime routine and now it takes like 30 minutes every night, even though we gave the paci back eventually.

    He is reading books next to me on the couch, saw this post and screamed “PACI!” though…SO THX.

    • Megan

      September 7, 2014 at 9:55 am

      Crap! SORRY!

    • Foreskin Magpie

      September 7, 2014 at 10:00 am

      Hahaha he hasn’t had it during the day for ages, so he was fine. Just some fleeting sadness and nostalgia for the good ol days.

  4. K2

    September 7, 2014 at 9:39 am

    In the grand scheme of things I think a toddler having a pacifier for a tad too long is really not that big a worry, so don’t.. well.. worry! 😉 He’ll probably need it less and less until he just forgets to ask for it.

  5. Angela

    September 7, 2014 at 9:39 am

    I hear you. My youngest was soooo attached to his pacifier and I dreaded taking it away so much that I didn’t do it until he was well past two. For him what worked the best was cutting the nipples off. When he’d ask for it and I’d refuse to give it to him he’d just get louder and more determined, but when I’d give him the binky with the nipple cut off he’d try for a bit to suck on it. He’d examine it to try and find the problem, but eventually he’d give up and toss it aside without a fit. Not saying it would work this way for every kid, but it might be worth a try.

    • noelle 02

      September 7, 2014 at 10:15 am

      We did the same withy sister. Told her she was too old for paci and it was rotting. Very few tears. Watching her hold the plastic nub between her teeth while trying to fall asleep was priceless.

  6. Véronique the Attachment Shark

    September 7, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Okay, I’ll say it!!!! I judge the hell out of toddlers with pacifiers (well, their parents at least). Your kid is still 18 months old, a tolerable age for pacies in my opinion, lol. But no, just no. I hate hate hate pacifiers in children’s mouths.

    Let’s make something clear 1- Meghan I love you. 😉

    Ok now that’s put aside, here’s why I hate pacifiers.

    My boyfriend is from France. Right now, the french love ’em the pacies, the bottles and the “doudous” (doudous are like stuffed animals without the stuffing. They are the equivalent of blankies, but in animal form, and smaller). From birth on, they give the babies their doudous, hoping that the baby will become attached to the blankie and use it for comfort.

    It seems increasingly common for french parents to give bottles, binkies and blankies to their growing children, so you will commonly find 3, 4 year olds with all of these. It bothers the hell out of me.

    1- Issues associated with dentition and development. Yes, binkies lead to children less motivated to communicate. They have issues with their teeth. They should be able to drink from a cup.

    2- Binkies should be given to babies when they have a biological need to suck. Some babies have a stronger biological need, some babies have a weaker need. But that need passes pretty quickly. I myself try my best not to give a pacifier to my three month old unless he needs it – either we are in the car and he gets upset or hungry. This can keep him content for the time we need to get where we are going. Sometimes it helps him when he has gas, or if he’s particularly jumpy at bedtime. It can help him get settled. But I try to avoid it at bedtime because I don’t want him to get dependent on the sucking in order to fall asleep. I also don’t want to have to get up all hours of the night to put it back in his mouth. However, if I see that he’s putting his fingers in his mouth to suck, I give him the pacifier because it’s a hell of a lot easier to break an addiction to pacies than an addiction to sucking your thumb. And it’s better for the dentition.

    3- When babies get older, the need is purely emotional. I often wonder why a toddler would need so much emotional support from an object in their daily lives? Every child is different. I only know what I’ve observed, so my observations might not apply to all children. In the case of my 4 year old niece, this is what I observed from her. First thing its that she absolutely NEEDED to carry around her doudou and her binky wherever she went. When she got upset, she would throw it down on the floor in frustration, expecting her parents to pick it up. When it would disappear, she would panic, which would send her parents in a panicked state, looking for them. The emotional wellbeing of their daughter became attached to these objects. (same went for their niece who i’m not related to). It’s my belief that, when a child is living in an emotionally healthy environment (regular, stable, enjoyable…), he shouldn’t need a source of comfort in his or her daily activities. When you encourage your child to have their pacifier or blankie with them at all times, it’s like you’re implying that there is a need for those objects. Therefore, I wonder if toddlers allow themselves to get more emotionally distressed on a day to day basis, and then need their objects to calm them down, just because they are there?

    I feel that a toddler who is increasingly verbal should be able to turn to caregivers for comfort when needed (or be able to self-regulate without objects). When my daughter gets upset (she hasn’t had a pacifier since we sleep trained her at 6 months), I try first to validate her emotions, give her a hug, ask her what is going on, and then we move on. Usually one minute is enough for her to move on to other things. She has a blankie for bedtime, but the blankie stays in bed at home. We don’t bring it out with us during the day unless we are expecting for her to be overtired

    • Kate

      September 7, 2014 at 9:51 am

      So, if you have a background in developmental psychology, they you more than most people should understand the very important role that security objects such as pacifiers, blankets, lovies, etc have for children. They are a representation of the attachment figure (e.g. mom, dad) and are a tangible way for them to “carry” mom/dad’s love with them wherever they go. It is actually a sign of secure attachment to see a child attached to a “lovie” of some sort. These objects can be a great way for children to bridge the gap toward self-soothing by using the object that they have control over to help themselves self-soothe (rather than needing to physically connect with mom/dad). So, I do understand your concerns regarding pacifiers and language development, dentition, etc., but I think the emotional piece is off the mark. Children’s use of security objects is definitely healthy and not a sign of excessive stress or inability to cope.

    • Véronique the Attachment Shark

      September 7, 2014 at 9:55 am

      What I’m saying, while not pretending to be the bearer of knowledge and emotional wealth, is that I have found that there are different ways of helping children adjust well without having to use these objects since more often than not, the objects in and of themselves become a crutch. For example, the use of the binky takes away the child’s willingness to communicate since they have something in their mouth.

      I don’t believe that, in my case, in my child’s life, she has a need for a security object. When I’m around, I want to encourage her to trust that her father and I will be there to help her through a situation. We’re teaching her to communicate her feelings so that she can use that later on in order to comfort herself. I also want to encourage her to develop healthy bonds with all of her caregivers.

      I acknowledge that not all kids are in the same situations, therefore, their needs will be different.

    • CleaK

      September 7, 2014 at 11:21 am

      I completely agree with you here. I think everybody, adult or toddler, likes a sense a familiarity with things. Being attached to something (in my almost 2 yr-old’s case it is his fuzzy blue blanket) is very normal and not a sign that your house is emotionally toxic. I truly just believe my son just likes to play with his blanket. I also don’t think his binkie is hindering him either; he will take it out when he wants to communicate and play. We’re trying to ween him from it and use it just for bed time and long car rides but his teeth look great and he speaks really well so I don’t think we need to worry too much.

    • K2

      September 7, 2014 at 12:14 pm

      Thanks, I couldn’t figure out a way to put my thoughts in words, but you mostly wrote what I was thinking.

      Also adults have attachments too, many not everyone but many.. Be it a favourite sweater, the bracelet a friend gave you etc..

    • keelhaulrose

      September 7, 2014 at 10:48 am

      When Little One started preschool they asked if she had an attachment object she could bring with her because it is something that provides comfort and familiarity in a situation that can be terrifying. In her case, with her autism, they felt that an attachment object would help her transitions and give her a grounding in a situation that would, without something comforting, would probably cause an epic meltdown. Her attachment item is her blankie, as he sister’s was as well (Big One still sleeps with her blankie but that’s it).
      I understand pacifiers are a different situation because they can cause physical problems, however I don’t think we need a blanket (no pun intended) condemnation of attachment items in general. The parents who retrieved the doudou for the little girl had shifted the purpose of that item for the little girl from an item of comfort to something she could use to demand attention, which is pretty much the opposite of a comfort item (which can be used to soothe in lieu of physical attention from an adult).

    • Véronique the Attachment Shark

      September 7, 2014 at 10:58 am

      that’s why I don’t want to say that they’re ALWAYS bad for EVERYONE. there are situations in which these objects can be helpful.

    • keelhaulrose

      September 7, 2014 at 11:04 am

      Omg, are we having a civilized discussion on something? I thought the trolls said we immediately went for blood. Quick, we need to start with the insults!

    • Véronique the Attachment Shark

      September 7, 2014 at 11:05 am

      oh. fuck. sorry. hold on.



    • Katherine Handcock

      September 7, 2014 at 11:07 am

      You forgot to suggest nebulous “research” that suggests your opinions are fact…

    • Véronique the Attachment Shark

      September 7, 2014 at 11:09 am

      oh. right. let me readjust.


      How’s it looking now?

    • Katherine Handcock

      September 7, 2014 at 11:12 am

      I see no further issues. Let’s see how it does on peer review 😉

    • keelhaulrose

      September 7, 2014 at 11:41 am


    • Katherine Handcock

      September 7, 2014 at 11:42 am

      Technically, all of us graduates of the University of Google are her peers. Or does she think she’s better than us, what with her DEGREES and her LEARNING and her SCIENCE and her PROVABLE FACTS?!

      I’m sure Big Sugar is involved somehow, too…

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      September 7, 2014 at 12:38 pm

      And the CDC, with their eeeeeeeevil vaccines!

    • rockmonster

      September 7, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    • Elizabeth Wakefield

      September 7, 2014 at 11:06 am

      I’m just going to say this:

      I don’t have a real opinion on pacifiers! So that means I’m not going to really get involved.

      That is all.

    • rockmonster

      September 7, 2014 at 12:37 pm

      You’re a big stinky doo-doo head!

    • keelhaulrose

      September 7, 2014 at 1:20 pm

      Only someone who is intellectually one step above preschooler would call someone a “big stinky doo doo head”. I’m going to say that because my insults are more sophisticated I’m more intelligent than you, so I win.

    • Katherine Handcock

      September 7, 2014 at 11:06 am

      For me, barring specific reasons and needs, about three is the part where I start to dislike it. At that point, most kids are verbal enough to articulate a need for other forms of comfort, and to receive comfort from words as well as a physical object.

      I’m also not a big fan of toting a comfort object (blankie, stuffed animal, whatever) around after about that age, but that has more to do with having watched a few tragic circumstances where a precious lovie got lost, never to be found again!

    • Véronique the Attachment Shark

      September 7, 2014 at 11:08 am

      there that too!! My SIL spent some time explaining to us how, when her son lost his doudou, they had to go online to find a new one because it had been discontinued. There are women who make a living out of buying the doudous, waiting until they’re discontinued and selling them for a ridiculous price since, for the child, the object becomes irreplaceable.

    • Katherine Handcock

      September 7, 2014 at 11:13 am

      In retrospect, I wish I had bought a few of my daughter’s lovie, not because we take it out of the house and could lose it, but because it was a cheapie little Valentine’s Day puppy and was NOT built to be toted around by an adoring little girl! The poor thing looks rather pathetic now. Well-loved, though 😉

      The idea of buying these doudous to profit from miserable children is REALLY upsetting to me…

    • rockmonster

      September 7, 2014 at 12:36 pm

      There’s the Internet Dick Move of the Week right there.

    • FishQueen

      September 7, 2014 at 1:04 pm

      And I thought buying up all the Frozen stuff to sell back to desperate parents was crappy. Talk about opportunism.

    • whiteroses

      September 8, 2014 at 8:13 am

      That’s interesting- my sons blankie is pretty much the one thing that will allow him to sleep at night and travel long distances, so we’ve taken it a lot of different places this summer. I looked into buying a new one, and he was having none of it. He got excited because the blankie looked like Blanket (that’s what we call it, we’re super creative at my house 😉 but it didn’t smell or feel like Blanket. I guess once Blanket goes kaput I’m screwed.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      September 7, 2014 at 1:44 pm

      I was obsessed with arctic foxes when I was a kid, so for my sixth birthday, I got a stuffed fox whom I promptly named Snowy. She didn’t leave my arms for two whole years after that, so losing her wasn’t really a problem–I simply started leaving her at home when all my friends did the same with their stuffed animals. Snowy and her “brother” Benny are still sitting in a chair by my bed 22 years later, so it is possible for both child and toy to survive into adulthood no worse for the wear (well, okay, both foxes are pretty threadbare by now…).

    • Katherine Handcock

      September 7, 2014 at 1:54 pm

      I have many of my beloved stuffed animals too! But poor Puppy was definitely intended as more of a throw-away stuffie – I think he only cost $3. The funny thing is, she was pretty indifferent to him for about a year, and then suddenly, he became THE toy. Funny how kids latch onto something like that. In any case, Puppy will be preserved by any means necessary 🙂

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      September 7, 2014 at 2:05 pm

      Haha, it does seem impossible to predict. I couldn’t have cared less about Barbies and baby dolls, but my stuffed animals were treated like royalty (and in fact are currently occupying a chair that is nicer than most of the rest of my furniture :p )!

    • rockmonster

      September 7, 2014 at 2:51 pm

      Psst! *whispers* I still have most of my Beanie Babies.

    • Véronique the Attachment Shark

      September 7, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    • Elizabeth Wakefield

      September 7, 2014 at 1:56 pm

      My ‘lovey’ was a Cabbage Patch doll named Ellie. Through the years she has had several ‘surgeries’ mainly rotator cuff and ACL repair. Ellie also had to have an eye painted back on because I scribbled on her face with pen. My mother spent many hours making sure Ellie stayed in one piece and now my daughter plays with Ellie. 🙂

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      September 7, 2014 at 1:59 pm

      Awwwww! Snowy has a few stitches, and since my dad had his own medical practice, they were the real thing! Probably a large part of the reason she’s held up this long! 🙂

    • KatDuck

      September 7, 2014 at 6:52 pm

      Oh man, when I was two I left my baby binky (pink, stuffed baby doll) at some store, never to be seen again. I STILL remember the trauma and feeling of loss.

    • Valerie

      September 7, 2014 at 11:55 am

      I judge moms falling asleep in public with their kids buzzing around them and since Ben refused to sleep, I had to make sure that at least Claire did so she had her paci until 2 years old. Survival, dude. You never know what another parent is dealing with. I judge pretty much nothing at this point- besides blatant abuse, of course.

    • Véronique the Attachment Shark

      September 7, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    • Megan

      September 7, 2014 at 12:26 pm

      This whole comment chain is the best thing ever.

    • rockmonster

      September 7, 2014 at 12:47 pm


    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      September 7, 2014 at 12:37 pm

      Wait…has nobody pointed out yet that pacifiers are linked to later use of SSRIs, which are in turn linked to brain tumors and school shootings?! THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!!!!

    • Elizabeth Wakefield

      September 7, 2014 at 1:56 pm

      Pacifiers lead to SSRIs which in turn create HUGE LIARS.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      September 7, 2014 at 2:02 pm

      Liars who lie about climbing mountains while stoned, which is clearly the end of society AND the environment as we know it!

    • ChillMama

      September 7, 2014 at 1:01 pm

      Once my little one was over two months, my rule was no pacifier outside the crib. My little one is now two, and she still uses it to sleep at night. I know we will wean soon, but we just moved so I did not want to add that to the chaos.

      My point? I don’t personally like seeing babies past the newborn stage using pacifiers while awake, but I am sure people don’t like what I do. I understand your reasons, but I am not going to judge over it.

    • Oz

      September 7, 2014 at 10:59 pm

      Only thing I will add to this is that I always raise my eyebrows at the “they won’t be sucking dummies/wearing
      nappies/breastfeeding/carrying the blankie around everywhere they go at college!” trope. Fact of the matter is, it’s
      not about adulthood. A child should not be doing any of those things
      past a certain age, and they should definitely be done by kindergarten. There are appropriate times to
      give things up and they happen a lot earlier than college. A child sucking on a dummy regularly at age 7 is a cause for concern, let alone age 17.

    • Spiderpigmom

      September 8, 2014 at 10:52 am

      “doudous are like stuffed animals without the stuffing. They are the equivalent of blankies, but in animal form, and smaller”: nah, a doudou is just any object the child has a special attachment to. A comfort object, if you will. It can be a piece of cloth, a plush toy or just anything else.

    • KaeTay

      September 8, 2014 at 5:00 pm

      I will say that the binky has not stopped my daughter from speaking or slowing down at all in her development. Every single doctor (former military family) has said she’s advanced, and ahead both through speaking and through those little milestones (like right now, she’s under two and dresses herself with little help from us). She clearly lets us know what she wants and what she doesnt want but she will NOT sleep without it. I figure what’s the big fucking deal because the child isn’t in any life threatening danger. It WILL be gone the moment I can get her to understand the binky donate/trade lie.

      P.S when my daughter throws something.. I make her go over and pick it up. Also when she’s really upset she still comes to me first and gets comforted and then sometimes she’ll want a binky but ONLY if she sees it.

      8 or 9 is too old though in my opinion.. 3 should be the cut off because they have developed quite a bit mentally at that point. But for me.. I like my daughter being on a schedule so I give her the stupid binky so she’ll sleep.

  7. Kate

    September 7, 2014 at 9:43 am

    The paci is a tough habit to break. My oldest son used his till about 20 months. Finally he bit the end off of it and it became a source of terror for me (that he would do it again in his sleep and choke). So we had a whole routine of letting him throw the broken one in the garbage to give to the garbage collector, etc. He actually felt empowered by this and understood WHY it needed to go. A few rough nights but then he was good. My daughter never took one. But she is a finger sucker. She’s 2.5 and no sign of stopping this habit, much to the dentist’s chagrin. And our 5 month old is a paci boy. Sigh, we do what we can. They will all need braces anyway, right? And will be orally fixated no matter what? Only so much control over this. Our motto is “do what works until it stops working.”

  8. Jessifer

    September 7, 2014 at 10:08 am

    My son never used a pacifier but I almost wish he had, because now he sucks his thumb, which is a much tougher habit to break. At least you can take the paci away. I am constantly pulling my child’s thumb from his mouth but he sticks it right back in. He’s 13 months old now so I’m hoping he grows ouf of it soon.

  9. Elizabeth Wakefield

    September 7, 2014 at 10:09 am

    A co-worker told me the funniest paci story – her daughter was having the hardest time breaking the paci habit so my co-worker tied the paci to a string and the other end was tied to the doorknob of her daughter’s room. My friend told her daughter, “you can have the paci, but you have to sit here to have it.” When her daughter realized that sitting by herself not being able to do anything else was pretty boring, the paci habit was broken. Hilarious.

    • Jen TheTit Whipper

      September 7, 2014 at 11:25 am

      That is awesome!

    • Elizabeth Wakefield

      September 7, 2014 at 11:31 am

      The lady is very sweet and was a little embarrassed telling her story, like we were going to see it as some form of child abuse. I just shook my head and said, “no, that is brilliant.”

  10. Kheldarson

    September 7, 2014 at 10:20 am

    I feel awkward because I’m not even worried about it. My son (almost 13 mos) sucks his fingers. He never took to a paci, and even now only uses the few still out as chew toys. But I figure the finger sucking will go away on its own. And if it doesn’t, well, my mom used vanilla extract to good use.

    • Beth

      September 7, 2014 at 10:56 am

      Hmmm… tell me more about vanilla extract to get rid of thumb sucking.

    • Kheldarson

      September 7, 2014 at 11:06 am

      Pure vanilla extract is rather bitter, which is why you use relatively little when using it as a flavoring. After my bro showed a willingness to suck even a bandaged finger, Mom coated his finger in it. Took a few days, but eventually it didn’t taste good anymore and he was done.

    • Beth

      September 7, 2014 at 11:21 am

      Thanks! Yeah, the bandage route was a total bust for us too.

    • Emil

      September 7, 2014 at 11:23 am

      Going to try this today. My 20month old sucks her fingers all the time. I wish I had the pacifier problem.

  11. Drstephanie

    September 7, 2014 at 10:21 am

    My twins still have theirs at bedtime and nap time because sleeping is much more important than taking this away. They will be 3 in October.

    • Meg13

      September 8, 2014 at 7:59 am

      My daughter still as hers for naps/bedtime, too (her twin brother gave his up about a year ago), they’ll be 3 in November. I have no idea how to get her to sleep without it.

  12. keelhaulrose

    September 7, 2014 at 10:52 am

    My girls never did the paci thing, but I’ve known several parents who threw “bye bye binky” parties where kids would read a book about getting rid of the paci and celebrate becoming a big kid before throwing the paci away themselves. I know of one situation where it didn’t work (girl dug out out of the trash) but for the most part it worked.

  13. JJ

    September 7, 2014 at 11:01 am

    When I was a baby I used soothers for a while and my mom was trying to get me to stop. And one day out of frustration she cut the sucky part of it off and gave me just the handle and was like “here you go you can’t suck it anymore” and I got mad in my toddler rage and threw the handle part at her. I’m sure at the time it was stressful to her but man I would totally do the same if I had a kid and reached my brink with the binky LOL.

  14. Katherine Handcock

    September 7, 2014 at 11:04 am

    My son was semi-indifferent to his pacifier, so we took it away relatively early (I think he was about 17 months), but my daughter was incredibly good at getting herself to sleep, and part of her routine was the pacifier, so I really hesitated too.

    My compromise was that, as a toddler, we started slowly cutting down when she could have the soother. First it was not outside the house (although at least once she smuggled a pacifier out of the house in her pants — seriously.) Then it was only at nap and bedtime. And then, we made a big deal for several months before she turned three that, once you were three years old, you didn’t use a pacifier any more. The book “Pacifiers Are Not Forever” got read over and over and over (it’s a great one, so you might want to check it out –

    It wasn’t totally easy, she handled it okay. Honestly, if I had had my preference I would have targeted two as my maximum age, but we moved shortly before she turned two and it seemed pretty unfair to me to take away a physical comfort object while things were still in relatively turmoil! But at the slightly older age, we did have the advantage of being able to actually talk about what was happening, both in advance and in the moment – I could say, “Are you missing your soother? Do you want me to sit with you while you fall asleep?” and she could answer.

  15. TigersInLove

    September 7, 2014 at 11:49 am

    I can’t force myself to take away my almost-2-year-old’s pacifier. She’s so good about naps and bedtime (which are the only times I let her use it), and I just can’t bring myself to turn the ONE THING that’s easy with her right now into a struggle. Judge away!

  16. Lauren Victoria

    September 7, 2014 at 11:50 am

    I had a pacifier till I was 4. Yeah, 4. I don’t think it was an all the time thing, but I definitely still had it. One day my mom told me that when I lost this last pacifier there would be no more. And that was it. I’m now 30 and a normal, well adjusted contribution to society. I don’t think the pacifier is a huge deal and as stated, it’s not like they’ll use it forever. This too shall pass.

    • Valerie

      September 7, 2014 at 11:58 am

      It sure will pass. Having slightly older kids makes me qualified to say- every phase I thought would neverfuckingend- did. They all do. There is literally nothing worth getting our panties bunched about because it will be work out, I swear.

    • Aldonza

      September 7, 2014 at 2:05 pm

      I was never a pacifier baby, I was a thumb sucker. I sucked my thumb like there was no tomorrow. People told my Mom they she should get me to stop, that it would be bad for my teeth etc. My Mom said I would stop when I was ready. I sucked my thumb until I was probably 5-6 (at that point, pretty much only at nigh when I was sleeping) and quit on my own no problem. Also never had braces or any teeth issues so I’m with you. A kid will stop when they’re ready and it’s fine.

    • SunnyD847

      September 7, 2014 at 7:15 pm

      Maybe I would have quit “when I was ready” but we’ll never know. I sucked my thumb through 6th grade. Seriously, AT SCHOOL as well as at home. Kids made fun of me at the start of every school year, but I did not give a crap, so they would give up. Finally, the orthodontist put a device in my mouth to stop tongue thrusting that also made it impossible to suck my thumb. I had a really hard time getting to sleep for a few weeks. My mom thinks I needed the security because of a lot of upheaval in my childhood and she never really tried to make me quit. One of my girls sucked her thumb until Kindergarten and I just let her be (she started K at 4.) She’s fine.

    • SunnyD847

      September 7, 2014 at 8:17 pm

      BTW, my thumbsucker has perfect teeth while her sister who didn’t use a paci or her thumb past 6 months needs braces.

  17. C.J.

    September 7, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    I have one child that had a pacifier and one that sucked her thumb. The one that had the pacifier had it until she was 2 1/2. The thumb sucker sucked her thumb until she was 4. My sister took her daughter’s pacifier away at 18 months and she started sucking her thumb instead. My niece is a year older than my pacifier kid so I figured I would wait until my daughter was ready to give the pacifier up so she wouldn’t suck her thumb. That was my first child, my second one would never take the pacifier. Now I have very large orthodontist bills for her.

  18. NotTakenNotAvailable

    September 7, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    About your last sentence…I had a couple of classmates in high school and college respectively who blurted out that they still had their binkies. I wasn’t entirely sure why they felt the need to share that in public, but the high schooler was in one of my AP classes, and my college classmate was in, well, college and was in a long-term relationship, so I guess it didn’t fuck them up that much.

    I also dated a couple guys before my ill-fated relationship with my much-maligned (though much-deserving :p ) ex. One lived with his parents a few minutes from campus, and when I went there to hang out with him one day, I saw a couple family pictures of him at around 3 or 4 with a pacifier in his mouth. Considering I had a tendency to date guys who could not shut up to save their lives, I quickly found myself wishing his parents had let him keep it. So who knows–maybe you should be encouraging this behavior! :p

    • 2Well

      September 7, 2014 at 12:43 pm

      Adult baby fetish? Sometimes the very high strung need those times when they can let all their worries go.

      For me, that manifests in a strong submissive tendency and preoccupation with school uniforms. Maybe those binkies . . .

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      September 7, 2014 at 12:48 pm

      In that case, if they were talking about it in the middle of class, they are far more open and brave than I will ever be!

      I, personally, am so high-strung that I can barely relinquish control of anything, which is a large contributing factor to my lack of desire for a relationship–it’s really hard to make grown adults do stuff to my exacting specifications. :/

  19. Iwill Findu

    September 7, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    Better a paci then the thumb does less damage to the teeth in the long run. My daughter doesn’t seem to care for the paci but when she’s teething hard I have one that I fill with water and freeze then she is all over that thing until it thaws.

    • JAN

      September 7, 2014 at 1:46 pm

      That’s such an awesome idea for teething!

  20. FishQueen

    September 7, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    I worked at a major amusement park. An acquaintance worked at a shop there, and one day, she was surprised to see a doll bump up onto the counter with a bag of pacifiers. She leaned over, and there was a tiny kid standing there looking expectantly. The mom holds out her wallet and says, “I’ve been telling him about the exchange program- how you can buy a toy at [very popular theme park] with your old pacifiers.” Frantically, she mouths, “I will pay you.”

    She recovered quickly and pretended to make a transaction with the kid, putting the toy in a bag. Kid shuffles off to sit with dad, mom pays for the toy and takes back the bag of pacifiers to dump in the trash, and boom. Pacifiers gone.

    • Cas

      September 7, 2014 at 2:06 pm

      Amazing idea, love it.

    • KatDuck

      September 7, 2014 at 6:45 pm

      I’ve been the cashier at those transactions! It’s really adorable and fun to make a big fuss over the kid. The kid loves it, the parent seems happy, and I get a huge smile over the cuteness.

      I do find the bag of pacifiers inexplicably gross, but at least it’s just for the moment before chucking them in the trash. I was less thrilled when the kid handed me the pacifier from his mouth but that’s why we have hand sanitizer. Still, please, bags are best.

    • FishQueen

      September 7, 2014 at 8:16 pm

      Yes please on the bags. We had a high volume of parents who would promise the kids a visit to one of the characters for the handoff, so usually those came right out of the kids’ mouths. Eughhh.

  21. CrazyFor Kate

    September 7, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    My babysitter took mine away without my parents knowing, told me that it “went away”, and made no fuss. Apparently I took it in stride and never touched the thing again. Maybe try a similar tactic?

  22. Cindy Ailey

    September 7, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    My daughter will be 2 in less than a month and she still uses her pacifier for her afternoon nap and bedtime, also for when she’s super fussy in the car. I don’t think it’s a big deal. I don’t let her have it during the day. She will try and sneak it and I tell her she’s only allowed to have it in the bed. Sometimes she will actually agree and go hang out in her crib for 15 minutes or so with her pacifier. Other times she gets a little cranky, and then forgets about it. I don’t think it’s a big deal. It helps her sleep, that’s a good thing.

  23. tSubh Dearg

    September 8, 2014 at 7:25 am

    Confession time: I am 32, own a house, about to get married and pregnant with my first child. I am a “grown up” but I still suck the first and middle fingers on my right hand when I am tired, ill, stressed or just having a hard time getting to sleep. I never had a pacifier as I child so I used my fingers instead. My parents tried for years to get to me to stop but it never took.
    The negative sides are that I have a mild crossbite with my teeth, but as my dentist said, unless I intend to be a model it’s not worth the cost of braces to fix. I also have crappy nails on those 2 fingers, probably from all the moisture they’ve had inflicted on them over the years.
    My Beau knows, but he doesn’t care, he thinks it makes a fascinating oral fixation and wishes it would transfer to other body parts. 😉

  24. Ortho

    September 8, 2014 at 11:28 am

    I never comment on these things but as an orthodontist, I feel compelled to. Most of the rationale for a pediatrician recommending discontinuation of pacifier use is due to dental/orthodontic concerns. The maxillo-mandibular complex at 18m is relatively pliant and unless the pacifier is being used 24-7, there is very little cause for concern. Even with 24-7 thumb sucking until age 7, most problems that result are fully correctable with various orthodontic appliances. My daughter is 2.5 and still takes a paci at night. I have no concerns about it at all.

  25. KaeTay

    September 8, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    My daughter is almost 2 and still uses the binky as a comfort. When she’s really upset and when she goes to bed she has to have it. I’ve tried putting her to bed without a binky and an our later she still wasn’t alseep.. I give her the binky and she’s out like a light. I figure they are baby teeth.. her adult ones are the ones that really matter (in the meaning of them not being perfectly straight).

    I’ll break her from the habit the moment she can fully understand the whole “giving the pacy to needy kids lie.

  26. alexesq33

    September 9, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Curious – when did your kids start with the pacifiers? If mine are at 6 months, paci-free, does that mean they won’t someday want them or should they be getting them occasionally? Will they want them when they start teething for instance?

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