Monday, February 01, 2010

The pacifier is gone...and a ramble about making changes.

Yes, you read that right. Heather's pacifier is GONE! It's gone for good and its never coming back! We would have a party to celebrate, except that her birthday is next week and two parties in two weeks might be a bit much. We don't want her expecting another one when she potty trains. :-)

I think the majority of my readers know me personally, but there might be a few lurkers out there...and really even for those of you who know me I think there is value in documenting what has gone on and my thoughts about it. Besides, this blog is the closest thing we have to a baby book for either child, so if I'm not going to go into gritty details occasionally then what is the point, right?

Let's go back to the beginning. I still remember viscerally how miserable I was at Heather's 1 week appointment. I'm pretty sure she would have nursed 24-7 if I would have let her. The relief that came when the pediatrician gave a thumbs up to offering her a pacifier swept over my whole body and made me a happy mommy again.

The girl continued to have a HUGE need to suck as a baby and then a strong need for the pacifier to get through teething and also as a lovey. It helped her calm down after every tantrum and often after an injury, too. Probably her best time to ditch it developmentally was this time last year, but we didn't want to risk screwing up her sleep right before having a baby or have her tie the pacifier loss to the baby.

I swear there were a few times over the past 4-6 months that I thought we were NEVER going to get rid of the thing. Even though she was barely using it outside of her bed or the house, we still couldn't make it go away. By Christmas we only had two left (I gradually removed the ones that weren't her favorite ones and a favorite one broke), and we only took one with us to visit family. That one broke right before we left and the paci-free trip was the most miserable 5 hours I've ever spent in a car.

BUT, the past week or two, she seems to be coming out of the 2 1/2 year developmental spurt. I don't know if you've read about this, but I've heard it described as "6 months on, 6 months off". Basically for 6 months they are calmer, more easy going and more even-tempered. And then the next 6 months they are moodier and more prone to tantrums, acting out and testing boundaries. Normally 12-18 mos, 2-2 1/2, and 3-3 1/2 are the "calm" periods and 18-24 mos, 2 1/2-3 and 3 1/2-4 are the "testing" periods. The first few weeks or months of each phase being the worst of it.

So we're one week from her birthday and the calmness seems to have arrived. She is SO pleasant and being more helpful than she has been. When she gets upset it doesn't last as long, she's less prone to bursts of crying, she's testing less and she's more likely to ask nicely without being prompted. (Yesterday was the best Sunday we've had in months!) I'm not trying to imply that she's been a constant terror for the past 6 months. As 2 year olds go, we've definitely got a good one. Especially when it comes to public behavior and general listening. But even the best kids have difficult periods. And there has been many a night the past few months that I was relieved to get her to bed so we could all get a break from each other or frustrated that she seemed to be crying more often than her baby brother...

Back to the pacifier - Thursday night at bedtime we couldn't find it. We looked in all of the usual places and it wasn't anywhere. Bedtime was a little rough and whiny, but nothing compared to when she was without it at Christmastime. And she only woke once overnight! Friday night at bedtime she looked for it briefly and didn't whine for it until my final "check-in" when she was stalling, and she only woke up once overnight.

Saturday night and Sunday night she didn't even ask for it at bedtime, she slept through the night and she only mentioned it once during the day yesterday! We officially have a toddler who is pacifier-free! And Todd doesn't seem to be very dependent on his, so I'm hoping sometime in 2010 we'll be a paci-free house. Yay!

I guess I just wanted to talk about the benefits about making changes during "calm" developmental windows to make them easier on us and our kids. Yes, we are the parents and we could have taken Heather's pacifier away whenever it suited us. (And trust me, we've tested the water on sleeping without the pacifier every few weeks for the past few months.) But by waiting until she was in a good developmental window for change, we made the change less traumatic on her and on us. (FWIW, she moved to a big girl bed a month ago with no I'm really talking about changes that are a big deal for the child, not just any and every change.)

As parents, we always seem to be second-guessing ourselves about whether we're being too harsh or too lenient. We don't want to be holding fast to rules just so that we can "win", but it is important to set boundaries to prevent the child from running the show and to give them the comfort of knowing that you are in charge. (As independent as they might be, toddlers do actually want us to be in charge and set matter how independent they may act.) Like everything else in parenting, it is a big balancing act, one that we are constantly fine tuning and adjusting. So I suppose I wanted to document a time when I feel like we got one "right". We seemed to strike a good balance between setting gentle boundaries and waiting for the right developmental window for the big change. There were certainly some rough and frustrating moments along the way...but I don't think I've come away from this experience with any big regrets.

And I'm hopeful that this period of calm with bring a Heather who is truly ready to be a big girl and choose to use the potty. :-) She's in a big girl bed, has ditched the booster seat, is drinking from a regular cup at the table and is mostly eating with utensils instead of her fingers. It's just a matter of time....right?


For the curious, the big developmental spurts (aka 'bad periods' for change) are 3-5.5 mos, 8-11 mos, 18-24 mos, 30-36 mos and 42-48 mos. My primary references for this developmental stuff are these two blogs, and both sites list reading reference material and have good search engines. I know there are people out there who think these spurts are just excuses and there is always something happening with your kids. But I've read enough parenting boards to see that the majority of sleep/behavioral problem posts cluster at the beginning of these spurts. Sure, there are growth spurts, teething, illness and other factors...but there is no doubt in my mind that these developmental spurts are real. They are more obvious in some kids than others...but they are real.


Katie said...

Yay for no paci! And boo for developmental growth spurts! Libby will be 18 mos. when little sister arrives. I guess we'd better fasten our seatbelts.

Bella said...

I was having major problems with my son's binky addiction! My friend absolutely raved about the cut method, and all of the psychology behind it. She emailed me a link to a free site ( -supported by advertisements) on dropping the binky, so I tried it. Very cool stuff, worked beautifully for my son. Four days later he did not want anything to do with his binky. Highly recommended! I am also interested in others experiences with this method.... Bella

RD said...

Oh my goodness. I don't think Todd could look any cuter! Such an adorable picture of the sibs :)