Posted in Infant, Parenting

The Irritating Pacifier

19:40 – Baby’s asleep

21:00 – Mommy goes to bed

21:00 – Baby wakes up, mommy puts pacifier back in

22:40 – Baby wakes up, mommy puts pacifier back in

23:00, 23:20, 23:45, 2:00, 3:35, 4:10, 5:10, 6:15 – Baby wakes up, mommy puts pacifier back in.

This is getting really old really fast…

…especially given that it started at the tail end of my son’s 3 month growth spurt and has gotten progressively worse over time.  We’re talking weeks of profound sleep-deprivation here folks, not days, weeks!  I’m not sure my body even knows how to sleep anymore.  Seriously, I am waaaaaaay past the mombie state right now.

Sooooo, I decided that I was going to wean my son off the stupid thing of it.

There are many ways to do this, but I decided that in order to save my sanity and eardrums, I would first try the Pantley’s Gentle Removal as explained in her book: The No-Cry Sleep Solution.

Basically, the method goes something like this:

1.  You let your pacifier (or breast, or bottle) addict suck until s/he gets drowsy and the sucking slows.

2.  You put your finger in the corner of your little one’s (LO) mouth to break the seal and remove the pacifier.

3.  You place a finger under LOs chin to gently keep it close or apply pressure on his/her chin, just under the mouth.  (She says to keep rocking or swaying gently, but I will be shhshing my son / rubbing his belly in his crib because we have weaned him off of being rocked to sleep).  If you have some key words, say them (mine are: “it’s ok, you’re ok, it’s just sleep time, mommy loves you”  I repeat them as though I was reciting a mantra until he either calms down or fusses).

4.  If LO fusses, put the pacifier back in, count in your head from 10-60 sec and try again (depends on how long it takes for LO to calm down and for the sucking to start slowing again).

5.  Keep repeating until LO falls asleep without the pacifier.

The author suggests trying this out at bedtime first and then do naps because if you tackle all sleeping situations at the same time, your baby will become miserable from lack of sleep especially when naps are difficult as it the case in my household.

She goes on to write that it can take around 5 times for your baby to successfully fall asleep but doesn’t say over how many days it can take for this method to work.  I figured, though, that with the majorly stubborn baby that I have on my hands (I think he has his mother’s and father’s stubbornness combined!) that it would take waaaaay more than 5 times per shot.

I was sceptical.  Very sceptical.  I mean, this kiddo needs his pacifier to fall asleep.  I was certain I’d spend the whole night just removing and replacing it.  But, since I had a choice between not sleeping and not sleeping but potentially weaning my son off his “suce” as we call it at home, I figured I’d go for option #2.

Here’s what happened on the first night of using the gentle removal (GR) method:

– 19:00 put down frantically crying little bundle of joy in his crib and swaddle him up.

– 19:20 asleep after 3 GR!

– 23:00 night waking #1, alseep after a night feed and 4 GR

– 00:50 night waking #2, asleep after 3 GR

– 01:10 night waking #3, asleep after 1 GR

– 01:25 night waking #4, asleep after 2 GR

– 03:05 night waking #5, asleep after 1 GR

– 04:30 night waking #6, asleep after night feed and 3 GR

– 06:00 night waking #7, asleep after 1 GR

– 06:30 night waking #8, asleep after 1 GR

– 07:00 up for the day!

Well, the night was by no means perfect, but it was a definite improvement over the previous night with 8 night wakings instead of 10.  Plus, his longest sleep stretch was 3h40min as opposed to 2h15min.

Small improvements, you may say, but improvements nonetheless.

In any event, the results were encouraging and I opted to try for a second night in a row.  And you know what?  I think there might just be light at the end of the tunnel because my little dude was down by 19:40, awoke at 22:00 (upon which time his father only had to remove the paci once before he fell back asleep), then again at 23:30 (3 GR) and a last time at 02:30 (I nursed and then 3 GR)!

Holy crap, I think I may just live through motherhood!

Have any of you been “graced” with a baby who had a pacifier/bottle/breast (or other) dependency to fall asleep?  What did you do that helped?


Thirty-something year old discovering the joys and bumps of motherhood.

16 thoughts on “The Irritating Pacifier

  1. Bravo starting the pacifier wean! Though we use the paci to calm our son, he doesn’t use it to fall asleep. (He does use the boob before his big sleep @ night) We are currently trying to wean him from the swaddle (one arm out, we are on second week, then going to take the other out) and the swing (we use this for naps, but we are trying to put it on a lower setting and turn it off once he is fully asleep)…all of it is challenging indeed 🙂

    1. Urgh, had I known what I was getting into, I never would have introduced the pacifier in the first place. But oh well, what’s done is done. I’m going to have to wait a bit before weaning him off the swaddle though. I’ve tried the progressive method, but he would always wake himself up by rubbing his face with his free arm!
      Good luck with your weaning process!

  2. I am so happy to read this! My baby girl is 4 months and just started doing this about 2
    weeks ago! Before that I’d put the pacifier in and she’d sleep for 7 hours when it fell out. It must be the same growth spurt you are talking about. My toddler didn’t like a paci so this is new territory for us. Im going to try your method& see if it works for us too. Keep me updated on your progress as I know it will give me hope.

    1. Yup, mine was like that too. Then the growth spurt happened, and then wonder week 19 came and all hell broke loose. I will definitely keep you updated. Good luck with your daughter, I’m rooting for you!

      1. That is so great! I appreciate the motivation. It’s something I knew I had to do or I was going to go bonkers. Your blog just kicked me in gear. Thanks!

  3. I have been there when my oldest used a pacifier! Such a pain (sidenote – it’s amazing how we can thrive on such little sleep, right?) My youngest is 2 and although he never would take a pacifier, he still wants to go to bed with a cup of water to “snuggle” with. Neverending battle! Good luck!

    1. It *is* amazing how little sleep we need to function as parents. Snuggling with a cup of water? Hehe. I know, I know… I’m laughing now, but when the battle of the pacifier ends, another battle will begin.

  4. Just tried this tonight for the first time, but I can’t seem to catch him before he falls asleep when it is dark in his room (for bedtime). How do you know when to pull it out?

    1. You’ll get a feel for it as you keep trying (I know that the first times I definitely pulled it out too early as the little guy went into screaming Banshee mode as soon as the paci was out). You’ll definitely notice a slowing down in the sucking, that’s your cue to pull the paci out. Maybe try having a small nightlight in the room to allow you to see better at nighttime if you can’t figure out the slowing in the sucking by ear.

      Good luck with the weaning! It was pure bliss when we cleared that hurdle.

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