I didn't really want to introduce a pacifier to A when she was a baby. At first, I thought it would destroy our breastfeeding relationship (yes, I'm a drama queen), and was following the guideline of waiting 4-6 weeks after birth to introduce an artifical nipple. But then I decided I just didn't want her to rely on some thing to soothe herself.
However, as the reflux she experienced became more severe, it was apparent that something needed to be done. A was never a thumb sucker, although I desperately wished she would develop the habit. I even tried guiding her thumb into her mouth, but she would cry and spit it out. Breastfeeding couldn't soothe her, because it made the reflux worse (especially at night).
And so, one day we reluctantly tried the soother (which she now calls her "suckie"), and magically, our daughter dozed off on her own! This was the first time anything like this had ever happened, without some seriously intense jiggling and rocking, and screams that sounded as though 10 people were being murdered at the same time.
Fast forward 2 years, and A adores her "suckie." We began restricting its use during her awake times, so she now knows she only gets it at naptime and bedtime. However, our daycare person has been successful in putting her down for naps without it, so we began wondering how to do the same. And we've been told by countless people that you must get rid of the pacifier around 2 years of age.
There is, of course, the cold turkey method, which many parents find helpful. Just take them all away, either by replacing them with a special "gift" or ceremoniously giving them away to another baby. We haven't tried this, but have been talking about doing it for many months. Our hesitation is this: A does not respond well to popular behavioural methods. She never has. All those stupid books that you read to help your baby sleep better, eat well, etc.? They never worked for A, and we always ended up just doing our own thing.
There is another method that has you cutting off the tip of the suckie, and allowing the child to use it if they want (children will discover it no longer works, and lose interest). We tried this method first, and not surprisingly, A just sucked away happily on her broken pacifier, all night long. Did I mention we have a strong willed child?
And then there is no method at all - you just let them continue to use it at night, and hope that they someday willingly give them up. Dentists would be pretty upset over this one, as supposedly they cause dental problems.
For the record, I sucked my thumb until I was 5. I seem to have survived, and I actually asked my Mom to stop on my own. I was getting embarassed about sucking my thumb at school, so she helped me find ways to remind myself to stop.
Like so many parenting debates today, this one has different "camps" (my mother is of the opinion that our generation overthinks everything to do with parenting, and I've come to see her point). So if you decide to allow your child to use their pacifier past the "deadline" of 2 years, you'll certainly have people wondering why you haven't enforced the rules and taken it away.
Those of you who read my blog know that I don't respond well to rules. I like to break them. So I'm finally following my mother's advice (everyone wave "hi" to my mom!) and I'm going to be relaxed about this one parenting decision. We won't be following the 2 year rule, but will take a "play-it-by-ear" approach. When A's ready, we'll know.