Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Breaking Paci


 Oh, the glorious pacifier!  What a wonderful little invention that brings baby soothing feelings and provides relief for parents. 

Your newborn is fed, dry, swaddled, rocked, etc. but still super fussy and won't go to sleep... give 'em the paci!  They are at the doctors office and just received their first round of shots and the screaming instantly goes through the roof... give 'em the paci!  You are at the grocery store and your one year old starts screeching at the top of his lungs because he likes the way it sounds... give 'em the paci! Your feisty toddler is throwing an epic tantrum and since you are in public and you have to finish your errands and make it through the rest of your to-do's in peace you... give 'em the paci! Now your sweet little toddler (because he switches from feisty to sweet at a moments notice) is sicker than he has ever been before and for 10 long and miserable days the only thing that is keeping him somewhat calm is... you guessed it... his paci.

Before Little C was born the Hubs and I had decided that we weren't even going to offer the paci to our newborn.  We wanted to see if he could self-soothe and we thought by not introducing it we wouldn't have to struggle with some day taking it away.  We went so far as to include in our birth plan for the nurses at the hospital to NOT give C a paci.  The hospital staff even marked this in big bold writing on his "sleep cart."  But one night he was rolled into our room for me to feed him and there it was.  That greenish-bluish paci plopped right into his mouth!  The nurse knew we were having trouble with a proper latch while breastfeeding and she said it would help to get his bottom lip and chin out more.  Being a brand-spanking new mother, I would take bits of advice like this and just go with it.  I never questioned or argued.  In hindsight I wish I would have stuck to our plan and instead of taking the nurses word on the subject I wish I had requested she take it out and then discussed it more with the lactation consultant.  It is recommended that you wait until proper breastfeeding is established before introducing the paci to your newborn.     

There are many pros and cons to the pacifier.  The biggest pro for us was the fact that it can help reduce SIDS if given to your infant when sleeping (you can read more pros and cons here).  I also feel that the "NO PACI" attitude Hubby and I had originally decided on was one of those things that changes once your newborn actually arrives.  We had good intentions but really didn't know how helpful the paci would prove to be until we had a newborn to prove it.  Know what I mean?  I am glad that Little C took to it and I really feel like it suited its purpose beautifully.

Now he is 18 months old and our Pediatrician recommends that your toddler be broken of the paci by 2 years.  It is mostly because of dental reasons and because they know the longer you keep the paci around the harder it becomes to take away.  For the most part Little C has had a very healthy dependency on his paci.  Only using it at nap or bed time, when he was in need of comfort, or when mom and dad needed to calm a tantrum.  But after his recent sickness it elevated to what we considered a whole new level.  He could not be without it, and I'm not exaggerating.  If you attempted to take it away he would erupt something awful.  It crossed the line from being "as needed" to "can't live without."  That was when we decided it was time to go.

I've heard of many successful methods for breaking your child from the paci but what we decided on was the trickle down effect.  We moved from one phase to the next very quickly to the point that it was borderline cold turkey.  Kind of like ripping off a band-aid.  Just go for it! 
  • Paci was taken away with the exception of sleeping - in between sleeping we constantly battled a very insistent C requesting, "paci? paci? paci! PACI!!"  At first we would say, "paci is all gone" but once that was not going to cut it we had to ignore his requests and distract, distract, distract.  There were plenty of meltdowns but with the power of distraction and an uber amount of patience on our part, he would soon forget he even wanted it.
  • Once he could make it through most of the day without requesting it we began taking paci away during sleep
    • Naptime seemed much easier for him to adjust to.  Daycare reported that he would go down without any problems and we noticed even at home on the weekends it was the same way. 
    • Bedtime however, was a whole different story.  We went from a very easy ritual of taking C up to bed, kissing him goodnight, placing him in crib as he rolls to one side and starts dozing to... placing him in crib while begging for his paci then crying himself to sleep.  If the crying didn't get better one of us would go in his room and attempt to soothe him which usually helped.  By the end of the first week the crying was minimal and very soon it stopped.
Little C is virtually paci free now.  He had to get blood drawn recently for his follow up appointment with G.I. Joe and you better believe we had paci on hand during that event.  But once he calmed down we took it away and he was fine.  Every so often he still asks for it and in fact this morning we experienced a rare is he crying because of a growth spurt, teething, stomach ache, what-the-heck-is-this, episode and he wanted his paci.  The requests didn't last long and he was just fine.

Bedtime is now back to being easy and we've found that rocking him and holding him to provide a soothing sense before laying him in his crib is very helpful.  It gets him comfortable with the idea that it's time for bed as his paci once did. 

It wasn't easy to break him and at times I felt like I was being cruel because he wanted it so badly.  That was the hardest part for us as parents.  But I'm glad we took this approach and it wasn't like we were not offering our son comfort during this transition.  If he did start in with a tantrum we would offer comfort before distraction because the paci used to make him feel better.  If he started crying in the middle of the night when the paci would have usually brought him solace we would scoop him up and rock him back to sleep.  We tried to fill the hole left from the paci as best we could and it ended up working.   

If you are in a similar situation and are feeling like it is time to break your little one then definitely do it.  It wasn't a breeze but it was faster than I thought it would be.  Like I said, there are plenty of successful methods out there to do it but this is what worked for us.  Good luck and if it gets tough remember it's probably like most hurdles you've experienced so far, it is a phase and it will get better!

You gotta give it to the kid though, he made that paci look good!  :)

Goodbye, dear paci.  I thank you for your service and know you will be missed. ;) 

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