The Great Pacifier Debate: One Mom Ponders When To Wean Her Child Off Of It

by Jenna Stewart
Jenna lives in Vermont and is behind the blog

The pacifier, also known as a paci, soothie, binky, nuk, or in my case, “Sally,” evokes very strong feelings in people everywhere. It’s easy to judge parents whose school-aged children walk down the street with a pacifier in their mouth, but that is the extreme, not the norm. For most, it is just a beloved object that helps babies and young toddlers navigate this big, sometimes chaotic, world.

What is the harm in that?

Before kids, I had endless amounts of time to do my research (along with other things like sleep, painting my nails, or styling my hair). I read so many conflicting opinions about the use of pacifiers, mostly against them, with a few positive reviews sprinkled in, which I could only assume were left by sleep-deprived mothers on a high from getting four consecutive hours of rest.


The reasons against them are valid: They could hurt their teeth, they could negatively affect the baby’s ability to nurse or take a bottle, the baby could become dependent on them… the list goes on and on.

So when I had my first baby, I was dead set against ever using one. I went to great lengths to avoid them, including almost tackling our nurse in the hospital when I saw her approaching the baby’s crib with a pink soothie in hand.

I reacted like she was about to give our sweet child a cigarette, instead of a tool to self-soothe postpartum hormones (which are no joke, people). Luckily, the nurse was a good sport. I’m guessing she has seen all kinds of crazy in the maternity unit, and my outburst was just a drop in the bucket. I’m also confident that she was downright impressed at how fast I got out of bed, seeing as how I had just experienced a natural birth only a few hours prior.


Luckily for us, our firstborn found her thumb before she even opened her eyes. She has happily self-soothed herself through tantrums, boo-boos and bedtimes for the last four years. It has been amazing, though I sometimes worry that my sweet little girl will turn into a teenager who still sucks her thumb when she gets upset. Another story, for another time.

Courtesy of Jenna Stewart

For now, here we are with baby number two (I guess he is a toddler now), who is so in love with his “Sally” that I can’t ever imagine taking her away from him.

Sally has been everywhere with us: The farmer’s market, bike rides, sledding, skiing, and most recently, the water park. Let me tell you, it’s all fun and games until Sally goes for a swim in the lazy river. Then, all hell breaks loose.

Courtesy of Jenna Stewart

We have slowly been trying to transition Sally to be a sleep-time friend. I mean, kids keep blankets well into adolescence. I don’t really see a big difference between a blanket and a pacifier, but somehow the latter creates much bigger feelings.

That being said, I am a sucker for my son’s pouty lip and eyes; I give in if he sheds just one lonely tear down his cheek when he is sad, hurt, or just wants to snuggle.


So, here we are: my goal is to have Sally scooped up in the middle of the night by the “pacifier fairy,” on the eve of his second birthday.

In the meantime, how do I prepare my child for that kind of loss and devastation? How do I prepare myself for the nights of endless crying after blissful sleep for months on end?


Give it to me straight people — is it time for Sally to go? Or, can she stay for just a little while longer? Honestly, I’m all ears!

For more from Jenna Stewart, visit Motherhood with a Twist of OCD and her Facebook page.