We have been through many transitions in these almost 3 years of triplet parenthood. Some easier than others. The move from our room to their nursery wasn’t too bad. The move from rock-n-plays to their cribs was a little harder. The transition out of swaddles was a scary one. Switching from formula to milk and from bottles to sippy cups all turned out better than I had imagined. Starting pre-school was fairly smooth. Learning to eat baby food and then solid food was a mess but fun.
Learning to crawl and walk with all 3 was exhausting but exciting. Helping SLO learn to talk without comparing them or making them feel behind or different was a challenge but communication with them has been so incredibly helpful and makes for really cute stories. We tried the whole potty training thing, but well we still have a ways to go. I’m sure there will be a post on that in the future, but it’s still a work in progress – a messy work in progress. I cannot even think yet about transitioning from cribs to toddler beds with all 3 in the same room (#cribsforlife). Another transition, one that I had been fearing was…the dropping of the beloved pacifier.
Now Lucy girl never took to a paci. She shunned it and clung to a little, soft, lovie that she refers to as “Pink.” Thankfully it is the color pink, so she makes up for her lack of originality with accuracy – although she does have a blue one that she calls “two” but it is much inferior to “Pink” and not at all the point of this post haha…My boys, on the other hand, loved their pacifiers. Our pediatrician warned us at their 2 year well-check that we might need to start weening them off of the paci, but I was in no rush for that to happen. Having good and quiet sleepers is how I survive life with 3 toddlers, and the thought of taking away the one thing that helped them get to sleep and stay asleep…well it was terrifying. I couldn’t imagine the havoc that cold turkey would cause to my very active and loud boys, so I took a different approach. I went for the long con. I slowly started taking away the pacifier.
Step ONE: Pacifiers stay at the house. This one we did fairly early on. I would keep a couple in the diaper bag for emergencies but encouraged school and the church nursery to only use them for emergencies.
Step TWO: Pacifiers stay in their bed. They could use them at nap or bedtime but that is it. We stayed at this step for several months. They were always excited for bed and nap because that meant that they could have a hit of the paci. They surprisingly didn’t fight this as much as I thought. I had to be VERY consistent with it though. I did not allow any exceptions. They each had about 3 in their bed so that they could find one at all times while sleeping. Sleep again is crucial for our sanity. Mostly I just watched their cues. I noticed that once they gained more language and vocabulary I was able to teach them other coping skills for being frustrated and scared. Honestly Daniel Tiger helped some with this too. He is so good at teaching them how to cope with emotions in a healthy way. We do a lot of deep breathing. I encourage them to take breaks when they start feeling fussy or agitated and make it a fun thing. They get to sit on the guest bed with pillows and books and even a flashlight to take a break away from the others. Then they come back ready to play again.
Sidenote: All that to say, if a pacifier helps your child feel safe and secure – I am not at all trying to convince you that should change. I am all for pacifiers and all for calm and emotionally secure toddlers. We all do what we think is best for our kids at the time. It’s so hard to know! I just thought I would try to see if I could convince them to find other ways besides the pacifier to calm down, and for the most part it worked.
Step THREE: We slowly started reducing the number of pacifiers in their beds. At one point I think that both O & S each had 5. But we reduced it to 3 in each bed. Then after a couple weeks, we reduced down to 2. Then after a couple weeks we reduced to just 1. We stayed there for a little while, and I didn’t even talk about where the others were disappearing to. I was sneaky.
Step FOUR: We slowly and intentionally started encouraging both boys to find a stuffed animal or blanket that they wanted to sleep with and encouraged that as a form of security so that they would not see the pacifier as their only form of security at nighttime. For Oliver it became a little puppy stuffed animal (which he named “Puppy”). For Shepherd it was a blanket that my mom made out of one of their old sleep sacs that he loved and a stuffed Pokemon Bulbasaur (“Car-Car” and “Bulba). Again, they are very original in their naming skills. Oh and Shepherd also had a Cocker Spaniel beanie baby that he called “Lion.” So that one is kind of original.
Step FIVE: Taking away that final pacifier from their crib was a little harder. I couldn’t just sneak it away. First we focused on taking it away at nighttime but kept it at naptime. At night, it’s not as big of a deal if they take a while to fall asleep. I knew it was time when the boys started chewing on the pacifiers. I would wake up to find shredded pieces of the pacifier nub in their crib. A lot of people cut off the nub and say it broke, but my boys started doing that themselves. I randomly made a deal. I had no idea if it would work, but it DID! I told them that big boys fall asleep by reading books. I told them that if they wanted to be a big boy they could trade in their pacifier for a book! They could sleep with the book and read it as they fell asleep in bed. I hyped it up big time. Oliver right away was pumped and picked a book (not paper pages and nothing that could be ripped up easily), and surprisingly he did super well with it!! Shepherd took a little while longer, but that was ok with me. Every night and every day at nap for about a month I would ask, “Do you want to be a big boy and read to fall asleep??” And for a while Shepherd would say “No, I want paci.” BUT he would see that Oliver got to read cool books. When Shepherd chose pacifier, he did not get anything else in his bed. He had to choose. Eventually they picked book and never looked back. Shepherd probably lasted 2-3 weeks longer than Oliver at nighttime and then he slept with his pacifier at nap time for even several weeks after that. Eventually though they were just ready.
Again, this worked for us, but it may not work for you and that’s ok. We all just find the right thing and right way for you, your family, and your kids! I thought it might be helpful to share our story of dropping the pacifier.