Gently Weaning From The Pacifier

Last month, my two-year-old daughter had an MRI. She has an eye condition called strabismus, and will eventually have surgery to correct the problem. Prior to surgery, she needed the MRI to rule out any neurological causes behind the eye condition, and because she is only two, the procedure required sedation.

In my bag, along with a change of clothes and her special blanket, I also brought her pacifier. She takes it to sleep with, and it’s an instant soother for her when she is upset, so I figured I should have it in case the procedure was frightening.

She did wonderfully, until it was time to take her back for the sedation part. Nurses and doctors bustled about, and there was a lot of equipment and flashing lights and beeping, and she started to look a little nervous, so I gave her the pacifier.

The nurse caring for her made a comment about it and said she could tell from looking at her that she is a pacifier child. “My son took a pacifier and his teeth looked like hers,” she said.

The comment made me think. Is there something wrong with my child’s teeth? They look fine to me. Should I have weaned her from the pacifier by now? She only takes it at naptime and bedtime, it’s not like it’s in her mouth all day long. We made that decision some time ago. She talks well too, so I hadn’t seriously considered weaning her from the pacifier until now.

Part of the reason for that is because I very strongly believe that you shouldn’t take away a child’s comfort object just because the experts say “it’s time.” How is it beneficial to abruptly remove a child’s bottle because they have turned one, or take away a school age child’s teddy bear because “only babies sleep with stuffed animals?” In my house, transitions are usually done a little later than recommended, but they are done slowly and gently, so the effects are long lasting.

My daughter went down for her nap today as usual, with her pacifier in her mouth. Still though I’m wondering if it’s time to start thinking about the best way to wean her from her pacifier use, and I could use some advice for the gentlest way to do so.

Did your child use a pacifier? How did you wean them from it and at what age?