Should my 2 year old still have a pacifier?

December 5, 2011

We had Bella’s 2 year Dr. appointment today. Why is it that I always feel so on guard and defensive with doctors?

Sure I don’t like to be told what to do. I think we’ve established that nicely on here the past 2 years.

But part of me feels like it’s the same thing they’d tell any parent, regardless of the child sitting there. As long as the kid is healthy and meets the “standard” – everyone gets the same talk.

I am not anti doctor. I just wish they took a little more time with us. 

Anyway, rant aside, the new pediatrician here rubbed me the wrong way by saying within 2 minutes of being in the room that, “We don’t do pacifiers and you need to throw it away immediately. No more paci.”

So yeah. Bella still has a paci. Also? It has a stuffed cat attached to it.

Real subtle.

She’s had a paci since she was born. There was a point around 9 months I think I could have taken it away without problems but she was so cute and we just let her keep going.

Now she’s 2 and I realize that it’s not the best thing for her to have. In our defense, she only gets it at nap and nighttime. And if I go some where traumatic – like to the Dr. Where she screams her head off for it the moment she gets on the table with the crinkly paper and rats me out. “PAPI! PAPI!” While pointing to my purse.

Maybe I should have told the Dr. she wanted her grandpa or something. :/ Hindsight…

I felt like telling the Dr, “No, we’ll decide when we’re ready to do that. Thanks. You don’t live here, you don’t have to deal with it.”

I have realized in the past 2 years that I do not have to listen to my Dr about these types of things. When the Children’s Hospital Dr we saw for her reflux suggested I stop breastfeeding and start pumping and supplementing with formula, we ignored that. It wasn’t right for us. Turned out we were right later on when she wasn’t underweight for a breastfed child. We didn’t start her on solids till 5 1/2 months after being told to at 4. And the only reason we did it that early was because we thought it might help the reflux. (No.)

But this – well this might be right. I don’t know. That’s the problem. Bella loves her paci. Loves it to pieces. And other than it being an annoyance, it doesn’t cause any problems. Her speech is fine now, she has it at night…

Eventually it has to go away. Of course. Do we do this now when it will be rather traumatic? Later when she is more willing? Will it ever get easier or is sooner better than later?

So I’m turning to you all, asking for your opinions on this.

Should a 2 year old still have a pacifier? And if not, do you have any more gentle ways of detaching than throwing it away?

40 Comments

  • Katrina @ Hix in the Stix ~ Army Edition

    December 8, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    I take everything the Ped says with a grain of salt. Granted mine wasn’t to forceful and just gave advice. We got rid of the paci around 21 months; but it was right around that time that we found out my husband was deploying and I knew if we didn’t get rid of it then it wouldn’t happen until after her 3rd birthday (I didn’t want her having one that long!). My son never took one so it isn’t a problem with him – now the issue is him having a bottle for nap/bedtime.
    Bella recently had a major life change with her daddy and the move – I think the security aspect of it is probably a big deal to her right now! I do know that after I while it can cause oral issues but I’m thinking that you probably still have a little bit before you really have to worry about it.

  • Amy

    December 8, 2011 at 7:08 am

    I have 27 month old twins and they still have theirs. They usually only have them at nap time or if they are crabby during the day but I have no plans of taking them away anytime soon. I know they would totally flip and not sleep if I did and why would I want to complicate bedtime anymore than I have to?? lol

  • Tim

    December 8, 2011 at 5:46 am

    We took them away from both of our kids on their first birthday. The first night was rough and the second night alittle less and by the third they were fine. And we never looked back. No offense but whenever I am out and I see 1+ olds in a stroller and sucking a paci it bugs me. I think they are both more of a convieniance for the parents and holding back the child’s development. I am not sure why it bugs me so bad, I even sometimes feel like saying something if the child is over 2, but I don’t want to be rude. Our kids are 3 and 18 months, so no paci and in fact no stroller after they started walking was not easy on us!! But we manage because we felt it was best for them ( future orthodontics in mind and language development not sure their is much research to back either idea but it made since to us and both our kids have huge vocabulary for their age) My nephew still had paci issues close to 3 and my mom used a pretty good technique to help him kick it, she convinced him his younger sister needed it more and he gave it to her. I guess if their is no younger sibling you could try convincing her to give it to another young relative or friend. Of course you are the parent and have final say on what’s right for your child. I don’t know why it’s such an issue for me? Its just a pet peeve of mine. I have never said anything to anyone it’s none of my Buisness but man do I want to. We just had our kids get rid of them early so we never had an issue.

  • Kate

    December 8, 2011 at 1:05 am

    One of the reasons I love our pediatrician is that his response to things like this is basically “don’t worry, they’ll outgrow it eventually.” My son is 2.5 and he still has his for naps and nighttime or if he’s sick. I will say that I’m relieved his 5 week old sister hates them ever since she had her tongue clipped (she was tongue tied) because he kept trying to steal hers. The few times when he brought her one of his were pretty cute though.

    PS: Definitely watch out for the chewing; we went through about 10 when he was getting his molars last month.

  • Joanna

    December 7, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    We tried to take the paci away from Madison around 20 months and it was a NIGHTMARE. She screamed for it and I gave in after about 30 minutes.

    Lately I had been noticing that she didn’t really seem to care about her paci when she got into bed (she only used it for naptime & bedtime. The paci always stayed in her bed). She was more concerned with her 80 billion stuffed animals that she sleeps with on any given day.

    So about a week ago I started telling her what a big girl she is and I told her that big girls don’t need pacis. She started repeating what I was saying “I’m a big girl, I don’t need a paci.” So I asked her if she’d like to have a cupcake party over the weekend to celebrate her being a big girl and give pacis to the babies who need them like Hannah. And yes, I fully realize how ridiculous this sounds.

    She got super excited and every night or nap I’d ask her what we’re doing this weekend and she’d tell me “big girl cupcake! no more paci.”

    So on Saturday we took her to the grocery store and she picked out a chocolate cupcake with green frosting. After dinner we gathered up all of her pacis and she packed them away in a box with me to send to the babies that need them and then we let her go to town on the cupcake.

    That night we had absolutely no problems. In fact we only had a problem last night and I think its because she has a double ear infection and is teething and she was just having a hard time going to sleep because she was in pain. Still, the pacis are gone and we’re not giving in.

    I think the reason its working is because 1). she’s ready and 2). my approach of her getting something fun & a big girl reward.

    I know some people will chastize me for using food… but its a cupcake and it was one time. We don’t bribe her with food for everything.

    So what I’m saying is you will know when Bella is ready and you can decide what to do to make it fun and exciting for her to get something in exchange for giving her paci.

    Honestly I don’t think them having the paci is so horrible if they need it for sleep. It’s a comfort thing. If Madison had freaked out at the mention of giving it up I wouldn’t have pushed it and would have tried again in a few months. This just happened to be the point where she was ready.

    Good Luck!

  • Kim

    December 7, 2011 at 1:01 am

    I honestly don’t think 2 is too old for a paci at night and bedtime. She uses it to soothe herself. If you’re still unsure, maybe you just make sure you’re really, really limiting it to those times. I had to start putting all Sarah’s paci’s up on a shelf out of sight as soon as she woke up or she’d want them. I think we got rid of them at 3, and the ‘binkie fairy’ came. Sarah and I gathered all the binkies, put them in a special bucket and the fairy replaced them with a special stuffed animal. Oh, and Sarah had like 12 binks when we gathered them up, so one or two? Yeah, so not judging you here!!

  • Teresa

    December 6, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    My kids never took the paci. I WISH they had, because i was their “human pacifier”. They both nursed till 2, so I think Bella is ok!! I’ve heard of people snipping a little of the paci away every day until it was gone, but that sounds germy… Some people collect the pacis and tie them to a balloon ato send to the paci fairy for babies in need….

  • Ellen L

    December 6, 2011 at 9:45 am

    The American Academy of Pediatrics says the following about pacis:

    Thumb, Finger and Pacifier Habits

    Q: Why do children suck on fingers, pacifiers or other objects?

    A: This type of sucking is completely normal for babies and young children. It provides security. For young babies, it is a way to make contact with and learn about the world. In fact, babies begin to suck on their fingers or thumbs even before they are born.

    Q: Are these habits bad for the teeth and jaws?

    A: Most children stop sucking on thumbs, pacifiers or other objects on their own between 2 and 4 years of age. However, some children continue these habits over long periods of time. In these children, the upper front teeth may tip toward the lip or not come in properly. Frequent or intense habits over a prolonged period of time can affect the way the child’s teeth bite together, as well as the growth of the jaws and bones that support the teeth.

    Q: When should I worry about a sucking habit?

    A: Your pediatric dentist will carefully watch the way your child’s teeth erupt and jaws develop, keeping the sucking habit in mind at all times. Because persistent habits may cause long term problems, intervention may be recommended for children beyond 3 years of age.

    Sounds like Bella is right on target. Worry next year about the yucky doctor comments if she’s still using her paci.

  • Dana K

    December 5, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    I’d find a new doctor if someone spoke to me like that. I go to the doctor for medical advice NOT parenting advice. Our ped has gently suggested we stop using bottles & pacis with Klaw. He won’t drink his medically necessary formula out of anything but a bottle. He uses sippy cups fine. He won’t be on this formula forever but he HAS to drink his formula. As for the paci? He doesn’t have a lovie or blankie…he has his paci. I just don’t let him take it to the ped’s office anymore. I’ll raise my family as I see fit.

    1. The Mrs

      December 6, 2011 at 6:55 pm

      Amen.

  • Leah

    December 5, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Our dentist, which carries much more weight in this area than a pediatrician, recommends no more pacifier by 3. My daughter developed a cross bite from sucking so incredibly hard. She just turned 2 and I have no intention of forcing her to give it up any time soon. The damage is already done…braces for sure. Did you tell your doc that you will decide? I hope so! Last I checked I got to make the decisions for my baby. Not the doctor! Pacifiers are perfectly fine and you remove it when you want to!

    1. Heidi K.

      December 6, 2011 at 10:48 pm

      I agree that you should talk to a pedi DENTIST about this. It’s not the doc’s area of expertise. Also, wicked harsh the way s/he spoke to you. Good luck.

  • Anne-Marie

    December 5, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    I’ve seen so many two- and three-year-olds nap with pacifiers at daycare. Until it starts interfering with her teeth (i.e. they can GIVE YOU A REASON–not just “we” don’t do that) I totally support ignoring them.

  • merylneiman

    December 5, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    When my daughter was about 22 months we had a bye bye binky party. She received a present to celebrate the end of her relationship with her pacifier. She was fine that day, but did later lament its loss. Over all, however, it was a relatively easy transition and I’m glad that I did it sooner rather than later. My son was a thumb sucker and that was much harder!

  • Manda

    December 5, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    Hmmm. Well, my first baby sucked her thumb. You can’t take that away. She didn’t give it up until somewhere around 2nd grade. She wouldn’t do it in public but at home when she was tired. 2nd baby never had a paci nor sucked his thumb. 3rd baby again no paci or thumb. Thank goodness.

    Our Dr. told us we had to give up the bottle and start potty training (um I guess we’re behind?). He just turned 2. We’re down to one bottle at bedtime and have been for a long while. I feel that it’s really up to you. Will it get harder as Bella gets older? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe see if she starts forgetting. Don’t remind her about it, make her ask. I don’t know. I have no idea how my little guy is going to give up that last bottle. He still asks for a bottle at nap time and we fight. Oh, the trials of toddlers. Hang in there.

  • Stacey

    December 5, 2011 at 7:39 pm

    Oopos… I just realized that someone gave you the same tip! 🙂

  • Stacey

    December 5, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    Colby was never a pacifier kid, so I don’t know if this really works but I read somewhere that you can cut the tip of the pacifier a little so it doesn’t “work”. If it’s not suckable then it loses it’s appeal I guess? If the first little snip doesn’t work, you can cut a little more, then a little more until it’s unusable. The trick it to make sure that Bella never knows it’s you. 🙂

    1. The Mrs

      December 6, 2011 at 7:12 am

      Doesn’t work. At least, not on my kid.

  • LA

    December 5, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    Ehh really who cares? I never seen anyone go to college with one. EJ is obsessed with his and there was a time when I was all he has to give it up. But, really what kid doesn’t get braces these days anyway?

    And he will stop it eventually and it is a sanity saver for sleeping. I decided to pick and choose my battles and this time I am focusing on potty training.

    The week I took it away he would steal one from the baby and hide in a corner and suck on it. It was rather pathetic. I moved on. I agree with you on pediatricians too. I don’t take their word as the golden rule and basically do what I want. Don’t stress momma you’ll figure out when its time to ditch it. Listen to your gut. 🙂

  • Shannon MIlliorn

    December 5, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Mackenna is 22 months old and we just now got rid of her paci. it was the Mam’s starter brand. My child would not tolerate just tossing them in the trash…..we tried and she would pull them out and put them back in her mouth—YUCK

    so we just snipped the ends off of a couple and hid the rest(so we werent wasting $50 in paci’s. we would give one to her and it would be “broken” so we;d have her put it in the trash. the 1st evening was the worst. she threw a 20 minute scream fest in the. She was good until bed and then it didn’t matter that it was broken she wanted it.

    it took about 3 whole days of no paci’s for her to come up with new ways to soothe herself at bedtime. she sufficed for sucking on 2 fingers for a couple of minutes while cuddling with her favorite stuffed animal.

    we noticed she started asking for food a lot more too which was good bc that has been a problem with her…… our issue now is with the bottles. she is still waking up at night for one or two and will literally cry for hours and hours. my husband can’t stand that she is still needing or wanting a bottle at night….he also isn’t the one who has to get up with her at 3am :>

  • The Mrs

    December 5, 2011 at 5:39 pm

    Miss has hers at bed and nap time, and she’s three and a half. We’re working on getting rid of it completely (mostly by cutting big hunks of it off when she’s not looking), and it will go away someday, but not yet.

    I think your response (whether you said out loud or not) was the best one – your child, your rules. If you don’t have a problem with it, and since no one can unequivocally prove that it’s somehow harmful to her, then rest assured she won’t have it when she’s thirteen and stop worrying.

    If you want. Like I said, your child, your rules, so if you want to worry…

  • Melissa

    December 5, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    My oldest had his until just after he turned two (he’ll be 3 in January). He was sort of forced to get rid of it since he chewed a hole in it. So we threw that one away but he still had one more. He chewed a hole in that one the next day so we threw that one away too. We explained to him that it was dangerous if he’s taking chunks out of it (kid must have been biting hard, lol!) and that he’s a big boy now and it was time to let them go. He asked for it for a few nights, at bedtime, but he never threw a fit and still fell asleep just fine on his own. Like Bella, he only had it at nap and bedtime. Our 8 month old takes a paci at nap and bedtime too and I’m not about to stop that anytime soon. I’m going to take his lead and hope that he deals with getting rid of his the way his big brother did.

  • Christi

    December 5, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    My oldest had hers at night & nap until she was almost 3 & I was SOO sorry. Besides her open bite, it took a few days of her literally NOT sleeping to break the habit, no matter how much I rationalized w/her.
    She was fine to “send it to the babies”, until nap time came.

    She also had a severe open bite by then. I know that it can mess with the development of the jaw (from working at a pediatric dentist), and assume it had a lot to do with her extensive orthodontic work as a preteen/teen.

    Luckily, #2 had a cleft palate & couldn’t suck & #3 would never take 1, but if I had it to do over, I’d have taken it away sooner. Just my personal opinion.

  • Mom On A Line

    December 5, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    I think you should do what is best for your family. I know pacifiers can lead to the need for orthodontia later in life, but if you want to trade that off for security now, I don’t see the harm. You have to find the right balance for your family. I will say, it will get harder to get rid of the paci as she ages, so if you want to snag it from her and not let her gradually lose interest (which could take years), I’d do it sooner rather than later.

    Believe me, I know about preschoolers and pacifiers. I wrote a blog post last week on this exact topic since my 3.5 year old still uses a pacifier when sleeping, in the hospital, or being traumatized in general by healthcare professionals. I don’t see her giving it up willing until age 5 or 6, if not older. But, I don’t care and I’ve told her doctors this. I know she’ll give it up on her own before going to college!

  • Brooke

    December 5, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Ruby still has hers too. But only at naptime and bedtime. We usually pluck it out of her mouth about 15 minutes after she wakes up. Her cousin is 3 and still uses hers pretty regularly. They have so few ways to soothe their turbulent emotions… why take yet another option away if they aren’t ready?
    Also, grrrrrr to doctors like that… We have to change doctors because of insurance reasons, but we would have anyway because of some rather boneheaded things she said… 🙁

  • Daneilia

    December 5, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    I would love to give advice, but I can’t in that department. For a couple of reasons. One L would never take one when she was an infant because she was breastfed. But I was also happy because I don’t completely believe in paci’s’ either lol. I know such a contradiction because I did try it. But because I never liked them it was thrilling to have our little girl reject one after the other. On the other hand though my niece was a paci addict and she is only 6 months older than L.

    I hope you can figure out what is right for Bella and you and Sam. Everyone is different and it just depends on what strides you take with this.

  • TheNextMartha

    December 5, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    I got the same speech at my Dr. at THREE yrs old. I decided that as long as he only took it for bedtime (he didn’t nap) that I was fine with it. Once he started hanging out with kids more, he ditched it all on his own. No pain for either of us. On another note, I let him have it as long as he wanted because when I tried to take it away a few times, he reverted to his thumb and that could last YEARS. So I kept the pacifier around until he was ready. It’s up to you. That’s the nice thing. You can do what you want.

    1. Diana

      December 6, 2011 at 7:04 pm

      This makes me feel a lot better. I keep hoping she’ll wake up hating the paci one day… 🙂

  • Cindy

    December 5, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    Bailey is Bella’s age…she still has her paci…but only at nap and night… of course she tries to sneak it in during the day also, ha ha! Anyways, we are trying to slowly take it away from her, but right now we have other things to contend with, her sleeping is horrid, and we are moving, so we are waiting a couple more months… then we will lose it at nighttime or nap and then down to once a day lose it again… you need to do what is best for you and Bella, but I have to say she is getting more and more territorial of hers, so I do not think it will be easier later. I wish I would have done it earlier, there was a point we were down to bedtime only and the teething started and we never took it away at bed….Good Luck!

    1. Diana

      December 6, 2011 at 7:03 pm

      That’s what Bella does – sneaks it. We had it pretty good for nap/night only till we switched to the toddler bed and she was able to get it anytime. Now we put it up high after that (it “sleeps” on her shoes) so she can’t get to it. She isn’t a happy camper about it.

  • nadja

    December 5, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    I’m pretty easy going with this. Let them decide when to be done. You know they will eventually. No 10 year olds are walking around with pacis.

    1. Diana

      December 6, 2011 at 7:02 pm

      Exactly – that is what I wanted to tell the Dr. How many college kids need a paci?

  • Misty Pratt

    December 5, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    I know I keep saying this, but you and I are SO similar! Aylen also still has her “suckie” at 27 months, and we’re feeling pressured to get rid of it. She also only has it at naptime and at night. Anyway, last night we tried a trick someone had suggested – we cut off the tip and gave it to her. She looked at us and said “it’s broken!” Supposedly, most kids will become disinterested once they realize it doesn’t “work” anymore….but nope, not our kid! She sucked away happily on the broken paci all night long 🙂 We’re back to the drawing board…I was thinking maybe Santa Clause could take them all away and leave her a nice, big present.

    1. Diana

      December 5, 2011 at 1:58 pm

      Honest to goodness, I took a big sip of water while reading this and blew it all over the screen when I read about her sucking on the broken paci.

      I’m still laughing. That is one tough kid – love it.

  • Mrs. MidAtlantic

    December 5, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    I feel lucky every day that my kid never once wanted a paci, thumb, finger… It was really terrible for the first few weeks, but now – phew!

    That said, I was a finger sucker for a really, really, really long time. I knew not to do it in public from about age 3 on, but it continued at bedtime for wayyyy too long. My parents knew about it, but were hard-pressed to stop it. It was bribery that eventually kicked the habit, but I still have trouble sleeping to this day. Sigh.

    So for Bella’s sake, I would say to gently try and limit the paci use. I think it’s fine if she needs it to relax to sleep at this age. You just want her to find other ways to relax to sleep before she’s…. too old to learn.

    1. Diana

      December 6, 2011 at 7:01 pm

      I was a thumb sucker – bad. My poor parents tried everything – now I know how they felt. We’ve started to put paci up during the day – she can’t get to him at all now and she hates it. I figure we’ll start with that and keep going from there? Maybe?

  • Jenny Georgio-who

    December 5, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    D is 20 months old and still uses hers so I can’t really comment on it. I can tell you that my SIL let her son decide on his own that he didn’t need it anymore. One day she kept telling him, “M, you are big boy right?” and he’d say “Yep!” So she told him “If you are a big boy we don’t need the paci anymore right?” He said “nope” so they cut the pacifier together. Like, with scissors. It was time for M to go to bed and he asked for it and his mom showed him the pieces of pacifier cut in half and he said “oh” and went to sleep with no problems.

    It wasn’t taken away from him. It was his choice.

    1. Diana

      December 6, 2011 at 7:00 pm

      That’s what I like – the choice. I don’t think Bella is there yet though, you know? Maybe in 6 months I can see her comprehending that, but right now I think she’d lose her mind if I cut paci. lol

  • Jessica @ The Happy Monster

    December 5, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    William still has his. I have tried to get rid of it, but I’ve been thinking of letting himself decide to chunk it. I just don’t know yet. Let me know if you figure out a way! He has started to bite the ends of of them so I’m hoping he’ll let go soon.

    1. Diana

      December 6, 2011 at 6:58 pm

      Oh my. Yeah, she’s not gnawing on them yet but I can see that happening eventually.

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