For the longest time, I’ve been thinking of how to wean Buddy off the pacifier (paci for short). When Buddy was a wee baby, Dr OK suggested to do so by the time he was six months old. She had a reason for that since the younger the baby is, the easier the weaning. I know some parents had resisted giving the baby the paci because of the risk of addiction. When my husband and I attended the childbirth education course, the instructor had advised the would-be parents not do use it. Initially, for the first week or so, we followed the advice and we didn’t even get one. But Buddy was rather cranky when he was a newborn; probably because he had a serious case of jaundice when he was only a few days old, and needed a lot of soothing. My mother told us that it was alright to sooth him with the paci, and even bought one for him. We relented, and as the saying goes, the rest was history.
However, the sixth-month timeline passed and Buddy was still holding on to the paci. I have to admit I didn’t put in much effort to try to wean him off, partly because my husband didn’t think there was an urgency to do so. So here he was at about nine months old, still wouldn’t give it up.
After Buddy celebrated his one year old birthday, I told my husband that we should target the weaning to be done by the time he turned two. I had read somewhere that that was the age recommended by the Academy of American Pediatricians. Well, I thought I had one year and plenty of time to do so. My husband didn’t think we should try in the weekdays when Buddy might be wailing for hours, and that would keep us up. He proposed that I (yes I would be the bad guy) to do so during the weekends instead. I agreed, but somehow I never managed to succeed in even trying. Every time when Buddy asked for the paci, my husband gave it to him. Even for me, when I tried to get him to sleep, I popped the paci into his mouth. It also came in useful in church, when Buddy doesn’t fully understand what is going on, and will sing loudly or recite the alphabets. Out came the paci to keep him quiet.
As Buddy’s second birthday approached, I was keenly aware of the deadline and felt a little pressured. I admit I was a little paranoid over things like this. It’s like once Buddy hit 2 years old and he wasn’t weaned off the paci, something bad might happen. My husband certainly thought I was too dogmatic, and asked for reasons why it had to be by that age. I cited dental development, speech development as reasons, but they seemed rather flimsy considering that Buddy has got a nice set of teeth and he is able to articulate words. Besides he didn’t have the paci in his mouth the whole day.
In day care, Buddy was only given the paci during nap time; however at home, it was a little more liberal. Especially during the last few weeks when Buddy wanted the paci more often. It was like a security blanket for him; or maybe he suspected I wanted to wean him off it. Still l told my husband that we should at least try to do so by the time he was 3. (Yes, the goal post kept changing.) After all, we wouldn’t want him to have the paci in his mouth when he is 5. We had once seen a little girl, aged about 6, sucking on a paci in church, and that really turned us off.
Still Buddy’s second birthday came and gone, and he still had his paci on. I decided that I had to act, and read up on forum discussions among mothers on weaning methods. Going cold turkey was one, making the paci undesirable was another. One mother wrote she sniped off the end of the paci so that the child didn’t find it pleasant to suck anymore. I thought that was worth trying, and did that to one paci first.
Buddy put it into his mouth, then took it out and looked at it quizzically a couple of times. But he seemed undeterred, and continued sucking at it.
I decided to snip off the other bedtime paci so that Buddy didn’t have a choice. He still wouldn’t give it up. I was wondering whether I should dip it into something bitter but harmless, which would put him off. Anyway I snipped off the first one shorter again, which was also suggested by the mother, to make it more difficult to suck. And in the night when Buddy was deep asleep, I removed the paci from his mouth.
These went on for a couple of nights, and then a few nights ago, Buddy woke up crying. I gave him the paci but after he put it in his mouth, he took it out immediately and said “no!” and continued to wail. It was 4.30 in the morning, and I had no choice but to give him a good paci. But he refused to go back to sleep on his cot, and insisted on being with us on our bed. We have learned not to give in, not in the middle of the night, because Buddy will end up rolling around and executing gymnastic moves, which was what happened the night before. He bounced around a little too much and got thrown out of the bed, and knocked his head against the wall. That expectedly triggered a wail.
Anyway back to that night when he threw his tantrum, my husband ignored his crying and put him in the cot. He didn’t stop crying after 5 minutes, instead he was very stubborn and persisted for more than 15 minutes. At almost 5 am, my husband’s patience was running very thin. He took him from the cot and smacked his diaper covered bottoms. Buddy was stunned. I took him over and gave him a bottle of milk to settle down, which he did immediately. In fact he was rather subdued after that.
I realized, since then, Buddy hasn’t asked for the paci, not even during bed time. I don’t know why since the spanking wasn’t related to it. As for daycare, I told the teacher a few days ago not to give him the paci during nap unless he cries persistently. I found out yesterday that he has been fine without it, and able to nap without any fuss. So far so good, and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’s truly weaned off the paci.