Does Your Toddler Still Use a Pacifier?

Slightly grainy image of a little girl with a pacifier with extreme narrow focus on her left eye

I have a dirty little secret. It’s shameful, really.

I’ll just come out and say it: My toddler still uses her pacifier.

I know, I know, there are plenty of mothers like me out there. In fact, I’ll bet all of us have a little something to hide. Maybe your “baby” still takes a bottle, some of you might have a “potty-trained” kid who will only poop in a Pull Up, or perhaps you adhere to the “family bed” philosophy a little more than you let on.

It’s ok. Being a mother is hard. There are so many things we’re supposed to do right. I don’t know about the rest of you, but there are many nights I go to bed feeling like I came up short on a few of them.

The pacifier situation in my house is out of control. My baby came out of the womb sucking. First, it was on her hands and then it was on me. All.The.Time. What could I do? Become a human pacifier? I don’t think so.

So, I broke down and introduced her to the pacifier. There are a lot of names for it: Paci, Binky, Plug. In our house it’s called The Nonnie (like Johnny with and “N”). I don’t have the time to explain the origin of the name, so lets move on.

Well, the baby and the Nonnie became instant BFFs. I can hardly find a baby picture without it stuck in her mouth, blocking out half her face. I cannot tell you how many times I had to get up in the middle of the night to put that thing back in her mouth so she could fall back asleep. Every outing, every car ride, every trip I had to make sure there was an abundance of Nonnies. A few tragic times the Nonnie went inexplicably missing and all H-E-L-L broke loose. I can attribute a few gray hairs to those nightmarish episodes.

Many parenting books and online resources declare that a child should not use a pacifier past the age of one year and tell you to take it away, cold turkey, once those 12 short months are up. I thought about it. If reading it in a book and then quickly putting the horrid thought out of my mind counts as thinking about it.

I mean, who in their right would want to do that?! It turns out, lots and lots of people do. And they seem to have much better foresight than I do.

Due to my lack of strength, a proper night’s sleep, and probably some sort of vitamin, I have now entered the world of a toddler who still uses a pacifier. The Nonnies are everywhere. ALL over the house. I changed my sheets last night and there were a few behind the bed, I found two under my car seat the other day and I even found a couple in the pocket of a robe I hadn’t worn in 6 months. The Nonnie has been haunting me for 2 years and I don’t see an end in sight.

I think I have been waiting for my toddler to decide on her own that she is a big girl and doesn’t need her Nonnie anymore. You can stop laughing now. I know that I am kidding myself. Why would she give it up? What’s in it for her?

Enter- “The Nonnie Fairy”. Some of you may have heard about this mythological creature called the “Paci Fairy” who was popularized by Jo Frost (aka The Supernanny). The basic concept is that the Paci Fairy comes to your house at night, collects all the pacis for the babies who really need them and leaves a fabulous present behind in exchange for the pacis. It sounds amazing right?

So, the other night I was putting my youngest to bed and I decided this was the perfect time to introduce her to the Nonnie Fairy. I fluffed her pillows, straightened her blankets and, of course, arranged her Nonnies so she would have access to them throughout the night.

I began to tell her the enchanting tale of the Nonnie Fairy. I described the Nonnie Fairy’s glorious red hair, her sparkly purple tutu and her shiny magic wand. She was gripped by the magical tale. So far, so good. In the end, I explained to her that the Nonnie Fairy was ready to come to our house and she wanted to bring her that awesome canteen from the Zoo that my toddler has been lusting over!

Silence. Like, I could hear the crickets chirping. Then she said, “Um, I don’t think so Mommy.” Crap.

That was last week, and I haven’t really brought it up again. I hate to admit it, but I’m scared. I’m scared I’m going to loose even more sleep after the Nonnie Fairy comes. I’m scared Emma is going to turn into a monster once she gives up the Nonnie.

Ultimately, I’m scared because I know that in a battle of the wills, I will not come out on top.

So, for now, the Nonnie Fairy is going skip our house and visit the homes of other children who have perfect parents. The kind of parents who raise kids that eat from all the food groups, have clean fingernails and can name all the presidents of the United States. In alphabetical order. You know the type.

At least I know Emma will get over the Nonnie by the time she goes to college. Maybe.

Have you tried to shake the paci habit?