by Shifrah Combiths
The day before his second birthday, we took this little guy to the Build-a-Bear Workshop to wean him from his pacifier and his little security blanket, known around these parts as his “pie-pie and lovey.”
We did the same with Elora-Belle when she was a bit older, but we felt now was the time for Little D. (And for us. Finding his pie-pie and lovey sometimes took a loooong time, and, honestly, I think his lovey was a bio-hazard.)
We wanted him weaned before his baby brother is born, before potty training, and before the pacifier starts to affect the shape of his teeth. (His older sister had a pacifier-shaped gap in her teeth when we weaned her, which thankfully closed right up after she was pacifier-free for a couple months or so.)
The process began with explaining to him that he was a big boy now and he didn’t need his pie-pie and lovey anymore.
We had to stop at the fountain, of course. I will never understand who thought it was a good idea to have a fountain like this in a place frequented by children. Anyway…
Little D was EXCITED. We looked at the wall with all the sample furry friends and discussed…
For those who don’t know about the Build-a-Bear Workshop, basically it’s a place where kids can choose and stuff their own stuffed animal. It’s a whole production, including putting a little heart (or two, in this case) into the animal, giving it a “bath,” and dressing it in an outfit. Below, Little D pumps the pedal that shoots stuffing into his monkey.
Elora-Belle and Little D prepare their hearts to go in the monkey. The ritual included rubbing the hearts on their noses so he knows everything, rubbing their hearts so he’s full of love, and I can’t quite remember what all else. Then they gingerly put their little fabric hearts into the monkey.Bath time!
Although Little D had a blast at Build-a-Bear, we knew it wouldn’t be smooth sailing when he got tired and he didn’t have the pie-pie and lovey he’d come to rely upon for self-soothing. The struggle started in the car on the way home.
When it was time for bed, we spent an extra long time reading to him, settling him in, letting him cry for a bit, and then coming back in. He eventually fell asleep, and slept through the night with no trouble, hooray!!
Nap time the next day didn’t happen, but that turned out to be good because that night he was particularly tired and settled down much more quickly.
I’ve read about some other methods, including cutting the pacifier down incrementally, letting the pacifier go on a balloon, etc. I love this method for a few reasons:
- Using a stuffed animal allows for weaning from both the pacifier and security blanket simultaneously.
- The child, ideally, performs the act of putting the pacifier into the stuffed animal himself, which accomplishes both respecting the child’s volition and involving them intimately in the process. They also get a keepsake reminder of what they did (which starts off as kind of a love-hate relationship).
- Putting the pacifier and lovey inside the stuffed animal keeps the parents from having to take the beloved objects away from the child. When the child is having difficulty settling or asks for the pacifier or blanket, the parents a) can point to where they are, but keep them inaccessible b) aren’t tempted when the child is screaming to give in.
- It makes the process a “cold turkey” one, which I believe is much more merciful than a long, drawn out experience in which the child may think if he protests enough he’ll get it back, etc. etc. I generally think “ripping the band-aid off all at once” is the most merciful when it comes to these types of transitions, at least for my children. Of course, preparing with explanations and offering loving support and our physical presence, as much as doesn’t backfire on the end goal, keeps such transitions from being traumatic.
We’re happy to report that on this, day four, of no pacifier and lovey, Little D is fully weaned. He hasn’t begged (sad) for either object since the first night, and even yesterday when he found a lost one (gasp!) he just held it in his mouth crookedly and sheepishly and uttered no protest when Dear took it away.
He has a new bedtime routine that in addition to the usual reading and singing, involves a sip of water while I hold his head up from the pillow (he is very particular about this) and tucking his blanket around his feet — but no more pacifier and lovey!