How a purple fairy helped our son ditch his pacifier for good

Guest post by Cris Valkyria
Photo by Cris Valkyria.

So often the lovies and objects of children’s attachment turn into a little bit of a crutch for the parents, as well as providing familiar comfort for the child. Many parents have caught themselves turning their car around because the little one’s favorite teddy bear was forgotten at home, or dragging a neck-breaking load of favorite toys for only a simple trip to the park.

I noticed that my son’s addiction and attachment to his binky/pacifier (“smukk”) was starting to become just as much of a security blanket for me and my husband as for himself. We had great plans of keeping it to night- and naptimes only, but often it was brought out during extenuating circumstances like boo-boos, travels, car rides, transitions times, etc. Then it became a fight. We were not consistent about our rules, so the screaming and tantrums would often elicit more willingness to dig it out of the pocket.

Finally, I took the dreaded step — to get rid of it. Parents of older kids had said it was never as painful as they had anticipated; that once the step was taken, it was surprisingly easy for the wee one to accept that this milestone was reached. We had our doubts. Our child was different. More addicted, more attached and stronger willed. This would not be as easy for us. We also had to work on our different opinions on our own and our child’s readiness to give up the soothing device we all relied on. But then we made up our mind — it was time.

I made a letter rolled up as a parchment, tied with a purple ribbon addressed to my son. The letter pictured a fairy holding a pacifier, and congratulated our son for becoming so big that he was now ready to help all the little babies in this world that did not have pacifiers of their own. He was to collect all his pacifiers in three days and deliver them to the fairy’s assistant in the toy store. She would then supervise the distribution of the pacifiers to the needy babies. In exchange, and as a symbol of his big-boy status, he was to pick out some presents for himself from the toy store.

We read the letter together over and over in the next three days, and the last day he expressed sadness, but readiness. He needed to do what was expected of him, and he willingly handed over the box of collected beloved items to the somewhat puzzled shop assistant at the toy store. He picked out quite a few toys, we negotiated the amount, he agreed upon the fairness, and left happily with his new trains.

The night came, and he asked for his smukk. I gently reminded him of his great deed, showed him his new trains and kissed him, saying I was proud of him. He whimpered for a minute or so, and asked if the babies were happy. “Very happy,” I replied. “They are all sucking their pacifiers, thanking you for being such a big boy.” “I AM a big boy,” he beamed. Shortly thereafter, he fell asleep.

There were only a few more gentle reminders after probing inquiries the next few days or so, and then it was over. In fact, I had planned an overseas flight alone with him only two weeks after his smukk cessation, and confidently left without a crutch in my pocketbook. It really is a chapter ended. Melancholy hits slightly, given the proof of my son reaching yet another milestone, but the fights and tantrums over this menace and savior is finally over.

And it was as easy as the parents of older children had predicted. Sometimes, it is not so bad to take the advice of people who have been there. Even if your child is different, more special, high spirited, sensitive or fabulous than any other.

Comments on How a purple fairy helped our son ditch his pacifier for good

  1. YES!! This has worked for me many times with binkies, blankies, bottles and other items. Its gentle, lets them feel in control and has an air of magic which children enjoy. Gold star!!

  2. We did something similar with my stepson. We told him that the ‘Plug Fairy’ needed them for needy babies. So we left a box for her next to his window for her to get them. He got a quarter for each pacifier because as you all know(winkwink) the Plug Fairy and the Tooth Fairy are cousins.

  3. With my youngest sister, my mother snipped the soother down the middle without her knowing. When my sister brought it to her attention my mother explained to her that it was broken now and must be thrown out and that was that 🙂 Throwing it away herself seemed to give her some ‘closure’ 😉

  4. I did something similar to eliminate the bottle when my son was 2. Some out-of-town friends with a younger child (who was not really a baby anymore, but not a big kid like him) were coming for a weekend visit, so we talked a few days in advance about giving all the bottles to “baby” Morgan, because she was little and he was a big boy. Then when the weekend was over we put all the bottle parts and peices into a bag and gave it to Mogan’s mom to take out to their car. (She actually put it in the backseat of my car, and I took it to the consignment store, but he didn’t know that.) It worked great. He was a little sad for a few days, and told us “miss mine bobble!” but it made him feel good to know that “baby” Morgan was getting to use them. And since he knew “baby” Morgan lived far, far away, there was no question of going to get the bottles back.

  5. Another option I’ve read about is having the child place the pacifier in a stuffed animal either homemade or at a Build-a-Bear type place. Then the child has a stuffed animal they can use for naptime, sad times, etc. as a “big kid” option. The only down sides are now you have to carry a stuffed animal around everywhere or if the child wants open the animal to get their pacifier back.

  6. As for binkys–if you cut the sucky end open and it won’t “suck” anymore, some kids ditch it on their own after a few tries. Might work if you’re trying to save the binky fairy for another battle.

  7. Great idea! My experience was the same as yours – I was convinced that the other parents’ experiences were nothing like what would ensue with my high-spirited, strong-willed child. My son gave his “gaga” to a friend’s baby and received a coveted child-size guitar from her in return. And lo and behold, he gave it up and never looked back.

    I often wondered when my son was a baby whether I’d regret offering a pacifier but it did its job and gave comfort when he needed it, and then was no trouble to end it when he was old enough to find other ways to soothe.

    I must say, I kind of miss the little gaga-face smiles he used to give me… *sigh*

  8. I waited until my son was 3 to discuss the paci, as the one he had was starting to break. I waited until it cracked almost off (ok so I may have helped it along a little). I explained it was broken and there were no more pacis at the store. I had him throw it away and there was maybe one more night of him asking about it but after I reminded him it was broken and there were no more, we’ve been paci free.

    I have a younger son who uses one now and will probably do the same thing when he is older.

  9. Hehe, this is so cute! A great idea, I will create my own wee story like this once the time comes 🙂 I love that the shopkeeper went along with it, she was probably wondering what on earth was going on!

  10. My sister used a binky fairy, who is apparently related to the tooth fairy. One morning my niece woke up and discovered a Buzz Lightyear doll where her binky usually was, with an explanatory note from the fairy. A few days later, my niece asked my sister to ask the fairy to take the doll back and return the binkies. My sister said that that wasn’t how it worked, and my niece went off to play, a little mopey. The next afternoon, my niece was shooting at the ceiling in the kitchen with her new doll, and when my sister asked what she was shooting at, she said, “The Binky Fairy.”

  11. ah, see I sucked my thumb when i was a baby, then a small child. And there was NOTHING my parents could do that would take away my thumb. haha! i won. Those others kids with the pacifiers lost.

  12. THIS IS INSANE!!! Great minds must definitely think alike because I did the EXACT same thing with my son 7 years ago when he was just about to turn 3! Only in our case it was the “Suckie Fairy”, and the suckie fairy came and got all your pacifiers one night for the little babies who needed new ones, and left a special soft toy for you to sleep with instead of needing your Suckie.

    At first Caleb said “Mom, I don’t like that story.” But after a few days he liked the idea of being a big boy and it was surprisingly effective. He only asked for his suckie a few times afterward and when he was reminded that big boys don’t need suckies he readily agreed.

    I never felt guilty or bad about giving him a pacifier in the first place. Babies need to suck, they get a lot of comfort from it, and it’s much easier to break a child of using a pacifier than it is to break them from thumb sucking (I know this well, I’m a 28 year old thumb sucker, I don’t do it all the time, but if I’m stressed, it’s like what cigarettes are to smokers)

  13. My 3 year old nephew just gave up binkys, no amount of prodding from my sister could persuade him to either give them away or that he was now “too old” for them. But he had a dentist visit and the dentist and him talked about the binkys, that his teeth would be happier without them. After that he has been binky free. I have noticed a little bit of binky envy with our baby but…meh

  14. Thanks for all the fabulous anecdotes on how you all did it – I quite enjoyed reading it! Of course, there is no way better than the other- as the column states- “it worked for us”… And what better than when it works, right?
    Thanks for sharing, everyone!

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