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Why My Kids Keep Their Pacifiers as Long as They Want

Next month, my second daughter will be 2.5 years old. Her love affair with her pacifier is still going strong and I imagine she'll keep it for at least another year.

Our oldest daughter kept hers until she was almost 3.5 years old. And our 3-month-old daughter has definitely shown herself to be a paci girl too.

I didn't start out intending to have extended pacifier users. I don't think I gave it more than a passing thought before I had children. But now with three of them, I feel pretty delighted that pacifiers exist and that all of my kids love them.

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For one thing, all three of my girls have shown strong inclinations to suck on things. I feel fairly certain that, if it weren't for the pacifier, we'd have three thumb suckers on our hands, which is a much harder habit to break than pacifier use.

It also means that I have something to comfort them with when it's a long day, we're on-the-go, or they've had something traumatic like shots at the doctor's office.

And since I'm an exclusive breastfeeder, it saves me from having to act as a human pacifier around the clock. Let me tell you, I'm pretty grateful for that little piece of plastic.

I'm happy that my children have one more item that keeps them feeling happy and brings them a lot of comfort, especially when there is upheaval in other areas of their lives.

Once my children hit about 8 or 9 months old, we restrict the pacifier for bed only (except when we're traveling or have some other unusual circumstance). This makes them way happier about nap and bedtime—it's something to look forward to, rather than something to dread. This in turn makes me much happier because I can just toss them in the crib and they are happy as clams. Plus, restricting it to the crib means I don't have to deal with judgmental comments at the grocery store about how my child is too old for a pacifier.

It's also much easier, I think, to take a pacifier away from an older child who you can reason with as opposed to a tiny toddler who can't understand why you're getting rid of something they love.

When our oldest daughter, who LOVED her pacifier, was 3.5, we told her we were going to snip off the end. She asked to do it herself and held it in her hand that night when she went to bed (since she didn't like how it felt in her mouth now that it was clipped). The next morning, she threw it away of her own accord and didn't mention it again for about two months. One night out of the blue, she asked where it was and I reminded her that she'd clipped it and then thrown it away. Then she never asked about it again.

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I know some people are strongly, strongly opposed to extended pacifier use, thinking it's unnatural to be soothed by a little plastic nipple, but I'm happy that my children have one more item that keeps them feeling happy and brings them a lot of comfort, especially when there is upheaval in other areas of their lives, like a move or a new sibling.

Like an adult who goes for a walk to calm down or takes a power nap or decompresses by reading a beach novel, I think it's fantastic for children to have just one more item in their arsenal to help them feel happy and calm.

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