Ditch the Pacifier: Effective Nanny-Tested Strategies
by candi vajana.
Paci, mimi, duda, mute button, binky, the silencer, pacifier. Whatever your preferred name, you know what it is. It’s your charge’s best friend, or possibly only friend, when it’s quiet time, play time, negotiation time, sleep time, or any time they are awake (or sleeping). Those of us with charges who are still using their pacifiers eagerly await the day they will grow out of using it, but what happens when your charge does not seem to want to grow out of it?
If your charge is still under the age of one, you should not be as worried about throwing out that pacifier because there are some benefits to using one. Jane Soxman, DDS, author of a 2007 study published in General Dentistry showed that babies who sleep with pacifiers have a lower risk of sudden infant death syndrome. Using a pacifier provides your charge with a method to soothe themselves during sleep, accidents, and tantrums.
However, beyond the age of two, it may be time to explore ways of shedding that pacifier. Prolonged use of a pacifier could lead to ear infections, problems with alignment of teeth, and mouth problems, to name a few of the consequences of relying on the pacifier for too long.
If you have been tasked by the parents to transition the pacifier out of your charge’s life, it is important that you discuss and agree on which method you are going to use. This allows buy-in from the parents and it voids any issues later on. Everyone needs to be on the same page. It is important to share this information with any other household staff too; there is no point to removing the pacifier just to have the housekeeper, driver, or chef come along and give it back!
I have outlined two different tactics that nannies find to be the most effective in painlessly removing the pacifier from your charge’s life:
1. Paci Fairy/Pirates Came!
Did you know that there is a special magic world where all the things we no longer want go? We have The Magic World of Broken Toys, Fairyland of Mismatched Socks, and Pirate Dust World of Pacifiers.
Just like with the tooth fairy, when a child reaches a certain age, a quiet fairy (or car/pirate/soccer player) comes and removes all the pacifiers, and in exchange leaves a new toy! This is a special toy that only children who are big and brave enough to be without a pacifier can have.
This approach works very well if you start talking about the Paci Fairy in advance of removing the pacifiers from your charge’s life. Making it a casual experience will make the transition easier and it will get your charge excited about the new special toy they will get. One week before, make sure they put all the pacifiers in one spot for the fairy to find. This will get them used to not sleeping with a pacifier and might be a more peaceful night-time transition.
2. Pacifier Talk
Over the course of one to two weeks, pick up several books from the library about saying goodbye to a pacifier. Discuss the reasons why big kids no longer use them.
It is imperative not to make your charge feel bad for still using the pacifier, but be encouraging about all the good things and fun times you can have after they put it away! This might help your charge see the benefit of eliminating their pacifier.
If family members or friends have a baby, ask your charge, “Would you like to give your pacifiers to the baby?” Sharing is caring!
Three days prior to removing all pacifiers repeat two times a day when they will be gone. On the day of removal your charge should receive a special treat or a fun trip. That same evening, try allowing your charge to sleep without a pacifier. Repeat the same process the day after and prepare your charge. When discussing all things pacifier, keep your voice calm and reinforce it as fact, not a discussion.
Since each child is unique and each family situation is different, it is important to remember that there may be different ways to tackle the issue. Each child will deal with the issue differently. Don’t mock them, don’t stress them out. Be supportive of them! Each family will want something different, so it is important to listen to what the parents are asking for. They may need advice or support, or they may just need someone to validate their feelings about the pacifier. Communicate, research, and execute, but do it all in a relaxed and calm manner. It will serve you well.