I’ll admit it. I was THAT mom who would give a sideways glance at kids still using a paci past the age of two, but that was before I really understood paci addiction. My first two babies wanted nothing to do with the paci, spitting it out the second I put it in their mouths. After assessing the nipple I thought, “Seriously, who designed this thing? It doesn’t look the real deal at all.” Then came my third baby and from the second they gave her that little plastic portal to peace in the hospital it’s been an ever-present source of both sanity and stress.
So I want to call us all out of the paci closet. I even called on the help of fellow moms with paci addicted kids to share their stories (anonymously of course). Here are the 5 stages of paci addiction as I see it.
Stage 1 – The Soothing Savior – In the beginning we love the fact that our baby will take a paci. It helps them self-sooth and sleep better at night. We practically bow down to the paci gods on those days when our child is crying nonstop and the answer is a simple bink away. You learn never to go anywhere without it. If you’re me, you buy one of those paci clips to keep it firmly attached to your child’s clothes because you’re tired of picking it up off the dirty floor and rinsing it and God forbid you lose it. Which brings us to…
Stage 2 – The Frantic Finder – This is the stage where you start looking at those little plastic nubs in a new light. When you find yourself racing off to Walmart in the middle of the night with three kids because the paci is lost and your child won’t take the backup paci because the nipple is too small and your child won’t sleep without it, you start to suspect there’s a problem.
You know the instant she gets her soothing suck on, she’ll hit the hay in peace and so you drive through detours and go to multiple stores because the dollar store down the street doesn’t stock the “right” paci. Oh you know what I’m talking about because with paci addiction comes a very real preference for a certain brand or nipple type. Oh, and you are pretty much guaranteed to find their paci after you get back from the store with the new one. Which brings us to…
Stage 3: The Paci Hoarder – You reach into your coat pocket and find them, you have them stashed in different drawers in your house, they’re stashed in purses, diaper bags and cars because you don’t want to be the frantic finder anymore. You want to make it rain pacifiers if your little darling should start bawling in the middle of a well-visit at the doctor’s office, at the grocery store, or in a restaurant.
One mom confessed that she recently found a paci stashed in her purse from this phase and her son is 21 years old now!
Stage 4 -The Enabler – So you enter this phase sometime around your child’s second birthday. My daughter is almost two so I get it. You start to wonder when this paci obsession is going to end and yet, you’re terrified to take it away.
So you start to rationalize it. It’s ok because they aren’t 4 years-old yet, or if they are 4 or older you’re probably hiding their paci habit from others because you don’t want to be judged. I get it. Sadly, I was probably one of those moms who saw kids out in public and thought, “Your child is way too old to still have a paci.” Yet as I’m staring down the barrel of that gun, I totally get it now.
My daughter will legit have a mini-panic attack if she doesn’t feel the cord of that paci clip on her shirt. She starts rubbing her hands against her shirt frantically looking and making helpless whimpers until I help her find it or get it for her. Though she’s trying to wean herself now by wanting the clip off during the day, she still has a few of these moments of panic each day.
Since my first two kids didn’t go through it I had no idea the struggle paci moms go through so please forgive me. I vow NEVER to do it again, if only you’ll help me get off this crazy ride.
Stage 5 – The Skilled Negotiator – Whenever we try to wean our kids or get them to drop a habit, we break out our hostage negotiating skills. I’ve been blessed to hear some really funny and inspiring stories about how some moms have weaned their kids off their paci habit.
A new blogging friend of mine shared how she broke her son’s paci addiction after he developed sores in his mouth, which she thought were from the pacifier: “I hid them all and kept saying, “Binky hurts you now.” Three days later, my friend called and told me her daughter had hand, foot, and mouth disease and that my son might get it since they played together a few days earlier. I laughed and told her he already did, but I didn’t realize it because it was all inside his mouth. So I never thought I’d have anything good to say about hand, foot, and mouth disease, but it did get rid of his binkies for us!”
A mom in my Facebook mom’s group talked about her son’s successful binky trade-in: “One night while I was getting his PJ’s on, he handed me his bink and wanted a new stuffed animal to sleep with so I took it as an opportunity to barter for the bink FOREVER. I told him he could sleep with the new toy or the bink, but NOT both. He said “Ok, Mommy,” slept through the night without it, and never asked for it again.
Another mom reported what she did after the dentist told her it was causing damage to her daughter’s teeth: “We took her to the dentist. He said she had damage to her front teeth. We threw it out the car window that day, told her the car ate it, and never turned back!”
Another mom used New Year’s Day to declare, “All the pacis go to the New Year’s babies now.”
So there you have it, 5 stages ranging from complete gratitude for the paci to nerve-wracking stress, but one thing we should never feel is shame over our child’s paci addiction. So I urge you to come out of the paci closet and share your stories with other moms.
For what it’s worth, my oldest two kids that rejected the paci used me as their paci instead and that was no picnic either. We all have this great opportunity to grow in motherhood together if we just break down the walls of our own fear. Share your paci stories here.
Erin Johnson a.k.a. The No Drama Mama can be found writing on her blog The No Drama Mama and Hudson Valley Parent when she’s not wiping poop or snot off her three adorable kiddos. This “tell it like it is” mama has NO time for drama, so forget your perfect parenting techniques and follow her on Facebook or Twitter for her delightfully imperfect parenting wins and fails. Her work can also be found on The Huffington Post, Money Saving Mom, Mamapedia and Worshipful Living.