My almost 4 year old had a strong and long emotional relationship with his pacifier. He loved it. It was a huge part of our sleep routines and would calm him instantly. At 18 months, we tried to remove it, but at the time my family lost someone dear–cue forget letting the paci go for everyone’s sanity 😔Then the pandemic hit and that meant letting go of our “instant toddler calmer” was not on the books. 😒
I began stressing–how the HELL am I going to remove this pacifier and have a smooth toddler transition. And dread built up about thinking of life without the pacifier?😱 Before I knew it – my little one was almost 3 and expecting a sibling and I was thinking– damn it now might not be a good time either.
I knew in my heart – it really was time.
It was a long time ago. And at this point – there will always be reasons why we should keep putting it off. When I say “it” I mean the consequences of removing it —-
- Will sleep worsen? I really don’t want to be tired again
- How will he even go to sleep without it?
- What if he cries?
- Will it be hard?
Well, my friend, it was no longer working and here is how I knew:
- It was causing more tension and frustration than benefits
- I knew in my heart it’s time to let it go
- My toddler was growing – and so did his needs (to learn other ways to “soothe”)
So – we made the decision to go for it.
⚠️Spoiler alert–It went SO smoothly!
I am proud of us and wanted to share with you the process I used to remove his pacifier and have a smooth toddler transition. This is the same process that I teach in my Ultimate Toddler Sleep Course:
- Break it down into realistic, manageable steps (bye-bye overwhelm!
- Prepare ourselves (create a game plan + choose strategies that are practical for our family)
- Prepare toddler (I tell you exactly how to do this so that its effective)
- Implement consistently
- Celebrate! Because the transition is SMOOTH and EASY!
If you want to know how this smooth toddler transition looked with the paci, keep reading:
First, we prepared by transitioning to using it for sleep and car rides at home. Next, he let go of the paci at daycare.
Next, we read books and spoke about the fact that its time to let it go completely. While we did that we “separated” sleep and paci and offered to hold or cuddle with him instead of using the paci. We also talked about other things he can do when he doesn’t have the paci (like breathing or singing).
When we told him he can no longer have the paci for sleep at home, he was upset for a few days but then we settled on a routine of putting the paci away before going to bed.
Finally, we were ready for the goodbye paci party! We told him that it’s time to give away his pacis to mama duck, who needs them for her babies. We explained that there will be no more pacifiers (not for sleep and not for the car).
The day of the party came, we made a sign together and invited his grandparents, aunts and uncle for the party. He collected his pacis around the house and from the car and put them in a bag. We explained that we will put the bag with the paci outside our front door, for mama duck to collect it. He put the bag outside, said thank you and waved goodbye to the paci’s and we went inside to set a timer. The bag was replaced with gifts!
When the timer went off, he went to collect his gifts. This was followed by a little celebration with tea and treats! 🎉
We had braced ourselves for several difficult nights during this toddler transition and here is what actually happened:
- Asked mama about the paci – I reminded him that we gave it to mama duck.
- Went to ask his dad who reminded him too.
- Went to sleep.
- Woke up in the morning, was upset and cried for a while (I alternated between letting him be upset and comforting him. Eventually he looked at me and said, “I don’t like sosa” – this is code word for – I am ready. I let it go.)
- Went to bed without asking for the paci
- Woke up without mentioning it.
And that was that. We haven’t heard about it since! (and it’s been a while).
Well, that was WAY easier than I thought it would be! The preparation, making the change gradually and both myself and his dad being on the same page really made this a smooth transition for everyone. ( I cover this in the course too! )I don’t know who needs to hear this – but it’s okay to change the things that don’t work for you anymore! In fact – it’s important because it protects your relationships.
Need help implementing smooth toddler transitions in your home?
Transitions are HARD–no matter the age. Having strategies and knowledge in your toolkit to help you prepare for those big transitions is a great way to help your toddler smoothly transition. This and other helpful toddler parent knowledge and strategies are available in our Ultimate Toddler Sleep Course. Want to get to know me a bit more before you invest–Follow me on TikTok!