Soother wars


I knew when I popped that soother into DD’s mouth way back when I would pay for it some time down the line.

The line has ended and things aren’t looking good.

For about a year now, DD only gets her soother at bedtime. But for some reason, in recent months she has become fixated with it. She knows the rules, but she asks for her soother. All. The. Time.

It’s getting ridiculous. She tries to convince her parents to get the soother in all kinds of creative ways. We’re constantly repeating: You can have your soother at bedtime, not supper time. Dolly doesn’t need your soother to feel better. Actually, Spike (a cat) doesn’t like soothers.

Me with the soother-addict...

Before you ask if there has been a big change in DD’s life – either at home or at daycare – the answer is no. Life is trucking along its regularly scheduled program.

I want DD to ditch her soother, and there’s three methods of intervention I’ve heard/read can work:

  • Option A: Tell DD that Baby X needs her soother since Baby X is a baby. (Find said baby, which won’t be hard since many of our friends are parents of newborns)
  • Option B: Cut the nipple off the soother so that much-longed-for sucking action is killed; hope that eventually DD loses interest
  • Option C: Convince DD she’s ‘a big girl now’ and have her throw the soother in the garbage

I don’t actually see that last approach working. This one knows the value of her soother. So it’s either option A or B.

My thinking is to have her kick the habit over the Christmas holidays, between Boxing Day and New Year’s.

  • – We’ll all be off on vacation so lack of sleep due to screams of outrage and gut-wrenching loss won’t matter
  • – Our holidays will be fairly quiet at that point since out of town guests will have left for home
  • – Although it won’t be ‘our regular schedule’ there will be lots of fun family activities to partake in – aka distractions

Speaking of distractions, I know a kick-the-soother-habit best practice is to offer up other ways for your child to self-comfort. A favourite stuffy or blanket, lots of hugs from mom and dad, etc. No problem – got that covered.

But here’s my conundrum. My husband is resisting the soother intervention. He thinks we should hold off. What’s the rush, he asks? (Like I’m the only one who gets exasperated by DD’s soother demands.)

When I ask him to specify an exact date to nix the thing, he gives vague references to ‘the future’. Hmm…

Thing is, DD is what you might call persistant. So both of us parents need to be 100% prepared for the battle we’ll be up against.

Then again, maybe this isn’t such a big deal. While I heard it’s best to have your child kick the soother habit between 18 and 24 months, she really doesn’t have the soother all the time. It’s not impeding her speech development, etc. And it’s not like she’ll enter kindergarten with a soother in her mouth. Uh…right?

What I’m asking for is some advice. If you gave your child(ren) a soother, at what age did they kick the habit? How did you prepare them? And what method did you use? One of the above options? Something different?

And if you were one of those parents who never gave your child a soother, or whose child didn’t “take to a soother” – please keep your smirks to yourself. There’ll be payback for you someday, somehow.

December 13th Update: 

We’ve decided to hold off on the big soother intervention. The advice kindly shared by other parents suggests giving DD lots of advance warning that her soother is going. I think it might be confusing with the whole ‘Santa is coming’ message that is also going on. I don’t want her to be excited about Santa and at the same time, anxious about her final days with her soother.

So, am I chickening out? A little bit. But we will do this. In January. Ya. January.

In other news, I recently discovered that Annie over at PhD in Parenting, is running a blog carnival called Carnival of Toddlers. If you want to participate, all the details are here. 

5 Responses to “Soother wars”

  1. Alison

    My daughter had her pacifier until she was 4, but again she only had at bedtime, there were no speech issues and she slept really well. When she was 3 we asked her to give it up and she also gave up naps. When she got her pacifier back, she started sleeping again. I felt that was more important.
    To help her kick the habit, we set a date, told her if she didn’t have her pacifier for a week then she’d get a prize. We created a checklist and every morning she could come down and put a checkmark. Then on the Saturday we went to the toy store and she picked a toy. I didn’t throw out her pacifier until the Saturday, and she did it herself. Our bedtime routine was a little longer for that week, but worth it.
    We tried Option A, and E told us to go buy more at the store, we shouldn’t share pacifiers. Option B doesn’t seem sanitary, we always threw them out when they got a bit torn.
    Our son is currently very attached to his pacifier, need to get it back in his room only. There’s a lot going on so I think it can wait till the new year for us.
    Good luck.

    • melgallant

      Thanks Alison – I like the idea of introducing a checklist so DD’s feels empowered by the process – also the toy as reward at the end gives her something to look forward to. Thank you for this suggestion!

  2. Sara

    Its so tough! When ds1 was 27 mos I had his brother: we waited until 2 months later to nix the soother (which at that point he only had at nap time and bed time). We talked about him not needing it anymore and trading it in for a big boy night time friend. We took him and the remaining soother to mrs tiggy winkles and he traded it ( we talked to the sales women ahead of time) for a stuffed penguin. Then I threw the rest in the trash and bagged it because i knew if he cried for it I’d give in. He had trouble falling asleep for about a week (no tears though) but then he was fine.

    When ds2 was 2 we moved and he had a really hard time so all plans to eliminate the soother were pushed back. I found that as time passed he got more emotionally attached to it and was sneaking it out of his room etc. He refused to trade or pass it along to a baby so we resorted to cutting it bit by bit and man did he hold on!!! There was literally mm left on the base when he finally told me it was broken and I could throw it out. I think what surprised me was how strongly attached he became between ages 2 and 3 to it; it was no longer just for sucking comfort but also became an object of comfort as well. Since he was a baby he’s also had a lovey blanket that he always had with his soother and so it’s taken over the role of comforting him

    • melgallant

      Sara, what you mention about DS2 having a stronger attachment to the soother between the ages and 2 and 3 – that’s what I see happening with DD too! She tries all kinds of methods to get her soother. We actually store it in a bowl in the top shelf of her closet – she drags her chair over and tries to climb to get it! She’d never reach it but still…

      But all of this speaks to why I think we have to bite the bullet and kick this thing. At the same time, the thought of doing so makes me anxious. Hrm…just got to do it.

  3. Alicia

    I don’t have personal experience because E never took to a soother. However, I’ve had friends who made a grand event surrounding the removal of soother, annoucing the date and once that date was there, throwing the soother away and never turning back. Usually a reward took it’s place. I remember reading one story of a mother tying the soothers to helium balloons and setting them free outside (although the thought of that on the environment creeped me out).


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