Pacifier Wars

Andrew Davis

by | Updated: December 4th, 2016 | Read time: 3 minutes

My almost 2-year-old isn’t talking, so we had a well-meaning lady from some large governmental agency check him out, to make sure everything was OK. After conducting a long and not-toddler-friendly array of tests, she said he probably wouldn’t qualify for Early Steps, but not to worry: “Get rid of the pacifier and he’ll start talking.” And so we did.

Charlie, however, did not start talking. But he did stop sleeping through the night.

He looks so innocent here, but you should see him at 2 a.m.


He’d recently climbed out of his crib, and we’d had to turn it into a toddler bed so he wouldn’t again attempt to dive out head-first.  No paci + crib freedom= a total disaster. There’s nothing like waking up at 2 a.m. because tiny, sticky little fingers are exploring your eyelids.

Just getting him to fall asleep at night stretched from a simple, bath-book-binky-bed routine at 7:30 p.m. to a desperate bath-massage-playtime-book-song-extra-cup-of-milk-begging-rocking-crying routine that stretched until 10 p.m., 11 p.m. or later.

“It will just take a few days,” been-there-done-that parents told us.

“It will just take a few weeks,” they’d say, when we told them how badly it was going.

Meanwhile, we waited impatiently for the words to start flowing. He’d point and whine at the fridge and I’d say, “Milk? Water? Cheese? Turkey?” Once I swear I thought him say, “turkey,” but when I gave him a slice, he threw it on the floor.

I started showing up at work in a daze, gray-faced and haggard. After a while, I stopped even bothering with under-eye concealer.

It was like having a newborn again. A 32.5 pound newborn. Because I had to carry him around all the time to comfort/control him, which I haven’t really had to do in over a year.

Finally, one night, my husband found an old lullaby CD from our now-9-year-old’s newborn days. As soon as he started playing it, Charlie relaxed and settled down. He fell asleep a little later. And slept through the night! Like magic, it’s been working ever since.

Now we put that CD on every night. You’ll never hear me complain about hearing the song, “Rock-a-bye Baby” too many times, because man do I prefer that sound to the sound of crying over the baby monitor!

Charlie is our third and last kid, but if I had to do it over again, I’d never take away the paci without some sort of slow, gradual transition. I feel as bad for Charlie for not being able to self-soothe as I do for my husband and I for being unable to sleep.

And even though I do long for the day when he says a word other than, “Mommy,” “car,” “mine,” or, possibly, “turkey,” I know that it will happen–though we are going to spring for (paid) speech therapy after this experience!

Jorie is the “Vitamom” who edits Her 23-month-old is a huge fan of Happy Baby Happy Tots Organic Superfoods drink in the green bean, pea and pear flavor, which makes her feel better about his refusal to eat actual green beans, peas and pears.