I have written about many difficult things here.

Whenever I had something hard to write, I would wait patiently for the words to come…and they always did.

But this time, for whatever reason, it is more difficult.

It’s embarrassing to me that this is what is hard for me to write about.

I’ve talked about bottle feeding with more confidence than I am about to talk about this.

I’m not so much afraid of being judged for this than I am nervous about being misunderstood. I realize there is a simple solution.  But it’s not the solution that is weighing on my heart.

I’ve found words to describe the monsters that lurk in my brain, but I am not sure how to put words to this thing that is on my heart.  This thing that should be easy.  This thing that should not be…well…a thing.

So I guess I just have to tell it.

<Big breath>

Eddie had his first dentist appointment this month.  He will be three and a half at Christmas, so we knew it was time.

Cort made the appointment for a weekday morning and took Eddie.

The very first thing the dentist asked was, “Does Eddie suck his thumb?”

She could tell just from looking at how his teeth are coming in that he sucked on something for comfort.  His front teeth are a  bit forward and his bottom pushed a bit back making an exact spot for…his pacifier.

Cort admitted that while Eddie did not suck his thumb, he did have a pacifier.

Her simple directions: get rid of it.


I know.

I know he needs to get rid of it.

Right now he only has it a night at bedtime.  Not at all during the day or even at nap.  Just bedtime.

But it needs to go.

(see, I am crying.  Why am I crying?  Why is this so hard for me?)

I know I could just take it away, but something in my heart wants to prepare him.

I know my Eddie.  Things are so much more difficult when they are not “his decision”.  That may sound like I pander to my child; I don’t care.  I want to teach him to use his words and to negotiate and to communicate his feelings and thoughts.

Cort talked to him on the way home from the dentist about it.  Eddie heard the dentist say it.  He knows.

His only response was that he didn’t want to get rid of “Pipey”.

So I talked to him one night as I put him to bed.

“Hey bud, what did the dentist say today?”

“I don’t yike the denst, mom.”

“Why not, bud?”

“Her said I not have Pipey.”

“I know,  bud.  I know.  Do you know why?”

“Him is bad for my teef.”

“Yup.  He is bad for your teeth.  You are just getting too big for Pipey.”


And that is where it ended for then.  I just didn’t want to press him.  He had snuggled himself down next to me and it was clearly starting to bother him.  So I just let it go.

can you see that it has holes? He loves it even with the holes.

Yes, Eddie calls Pipey a “him”.  He will call other babies’ and kids’ a pacifier, but his is Pipey.  It is an actual person to him.

The next night I brought it up again and told him all about the Pipey Fairy who would come and take his Pipey and bring him something new to love at night.

He wasn’t impressed, but he bought the idea.  He asked her to wait a while yet.  He told me he wanted “moe time” with his Pipey.

I went upstairs and cried.

Cort and I discussed that with all the work we are doing trying to get him to learn to stay in bed at bedtime (another post I am working on), we weren’t going to make it tougher by taking Pipey.  But we would keep the conversation going so he remembered that their time was limited.

Cort talked with Eddie about it one night and Eddie said he couldn’t get rid of Pipey because Lamby would be lonely.  They sit together in his bed all day waiting for him.  What would Lamby do without Pipey?

So Pipey isn’t just a person, but a friend.  Pipey and Lamby go together.

Cort and I talked about it and realized it is always that way:

Yes, you can go get Lamby and Pipey.

Here, we brought Lamby and Pipey for you.

No, we didn’t forget to pack Lamby and Pipey.


They are a team

People?  This thing just gets more complicated.

Eddie sees Pipey as a lovey.  Not just a soother.

He sees Pipey as part of a team.  Pipey and Lamby.

I realize that the “easy” solution is to take the pacifier, tell him that is that, and be done.

But our hearts won’t let us do that.

So go ahead and judge, but we aren’t taking it away just yet.

Yup, we are making it more complicated than it needs to be, and I think it might be as much for us as for him.

I am probably projecting my own sentimentality and fear of losing the “baby” onto Eddie.  I realize that.

But I also know that Eddie and I are very much the same person.  We need to face change slowly…to be totally ready for it.  And so we wait.

Tonight we talked about it again.  Eddie showed me that his Pipey’s holes have gotten bigger.  I reminded him that soon Pipey wouldn’t work and he would have to give him to the Pipey Fairy.

“But I yuv my Pipey.”

“I know, bud.”

“But I won’t have him ever again?”

“Nope. Not once you give him up to the Pipey Fairy.”

“Aw. What I do with no Pipey?”

“You will just be a Big Boy.  We all had to give up our Pipeys at some point.  It’s almost your turn.”

“Ok. But not yet, mom.  Not yet.”

No. Not yet, bud.  But soon, I’m afraid.  Very soon.


About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.


  1. I am in tears reading this. Almost exactly one year ago, when B was 3 and a half–we got rid of Bop-bop. It was his pacifier, and also probably his best friend. I cried for DAYS about having to get rid of it. Finally, one night we did the Bop-bop fairy. She brought him a new teddy bear. He screamed every single night for a week. And then? It was over. I so get where your coming from Mama. And at no point am I judging you. Only you know your little, and only you know the best way to handle this situation. Dont let anyone tell you how to handle this. Because its tough, taking something away from them that they love so much.

  2. No judgement! There’s not a right or wrong here. You guys will figure it out. (I have a husband who doesn’t like change at all and a little girl with many of the same characteristics. Transitions are hard for them. I get this post a lot.)

  3. You guys are such good, heart-parents. Really.
    Letting him lead the way with this will not only make it easier on him, it’d allow him to know that he came to the decision on his own.
    And that’s huge.

  4. I’ve read here for a while, but I don’t think I’ve ever commented before. I am delurking today to tell you, you are not alone. I cried reading this. Our daughter is almost 2 1/2, and she has her Paci. She LOVES Paci. We got her down to only using it at nap and night, but lately she’s been asking for it during “no Paci” times, and just I don’t have the heart to refuse her. I’m also still nursing her, and I’m planning on weaning completely at the beginning of the year, and I know I can’t get rid of both at once. It would be too hard on her. And I selfishly want to wean first. She bites through them too, but always brings it to us when it stops working and asks us to fix it for her (up until now, we’ve just replaced it). The thought of taking away something that brings her such comfort fills me with dread. Fingers crossed that “soon” comes and goes without a hitch for Eddie, and for you.

  5. I hear you. We just moved to Wiesbaden, Germany from Maryland and, when we did our tour of my son’s new daycare, I mentioned that he takes a pacifier at nap and bedtime. They looked me dead in the eye and said, “There’s no soothers allowed in the toddler room.”

    Now, he’s 2.5 and we had talked at length about taking it away before, but had never gone through with it. Husband and I had a long talk about how we would do it and decided that we’d go the present route. Our son doesn’t quite grasp the “fairy” concept, so we told him he’d get to trade it in for a “special treasure.”

    In the end, he invented his own story to go with the paci’s disappearance. After the first night without (which was largely painless), he told me that paci “went to college with Steve” (from Blue’s Clues). It was adorable and now, over a month later, we’re still talking about his paci and what kind of fun it’s having at college with Steve.

    The saddest part, though, as been that my son’s paci was also part of a team. “Cow and paci.” Now that paci is gone? He’s starting to leave Cow behind, too, and it’s breaking my heart.

  6. Jamie is on Operation Bink Fairy right now. Last night was his first without. He needed to snuggle us in the ‘big bed’ because he was scared (but pretty sure it was bink-related.) We continue to tell him how proud we are and how big he is and how happy we are with him. So far we are ok. We too had the ‘bink and lovey’ connection. Now we have two loveys. Perhaps a new friend to go with Lamby will help a bit?

    Love you friend. <3

  7. You are so not alone! My son started going to the dentist at 18 months old. At every appointment, she told us to take the pacifier and I just couldn’t do it to him. Plus, he likes things to be his idea, his plan. I tried taking it away when he was 2 and he cried every night for 3 weeks. He would wake in the middle of the night crying. It was like having a newborn again, so I broke down and gave it back. Then I cut the tip off of it and told him it came off because he bites it. He didn’t care, still sucked on it. I kept cutting it and he some how kept it in his mouth. Finally, about 5 months ago at age 3, he just stopped using it. He still has it and likes to hold it sometimes, but it’s never in his mouth. At his dentist appointment last month, she said she could tell he wasn’t using it anymore and his teeth have moved where they are supposed to be. Just let Eddie lead and he will give it up when the time is right.

  8. My kids were not paci kids, both gave them up by the time they were 6 months old…so I probably have no idea what I’m talking about. But, could you keep pipey but change “his” role? Maybe he gets tied around Lamby’s neck? So they are still together? I don’t know if you could get him to stop sucking it if it was still around, but just a thought since he considers Pipey “part of the team.”

    Zero judgement. This post just made me cry and like I said, my kids have never been attached to a paci. It’s hard when our kids hurt and they’re too little to really get it.

    • This is exactly what i was going to suggest Jaime – what if Pipey had a different job – maybe pipey gets a special box (clear, of course) that he goes in, or something – so the rule is that Pipey can’t go in his mouth anymore, but he can still stay and be part of the family. Then you can do a sticker system for every night without Pipey in his mouth, and at the end of 7 nights he gets to pick out a toy or something…
      We are going to have to face this eventually too. My 20 month old LOVES his Paffer.

      • I was going to suggest this as well. Much like Jaime, neither of my girls had any use for a pacifier after about 6 weeks old. But if Pipey is part of a team, then he needs a new role. Eddie gets new chores and assignments as he gets older, right? So shouldn’t Pipey have a new assignment too? Just a guess, since I’m not familiar with the pacifier attachment. 🙂

  9. Would it undermine your talk of Paci Fairy (or be too creepy) to put Pipey in Lamby? I mean, Lamby wouldn’t be lonely and Eddie could still feel Pipey, even if he couldn’t suck on it. It requires sewing. And is sounding weirder the more I type. So maybe not. But good luck – I was a kid attached to my Guys, and I know how hard the transition can be!

  10. I don’t have children myself, so I can only imagine what you two are going through, but I know that when it was time for paci to be given up for a couple of my friends, they went to a Build-a-Bear (or similar), and the child was able to pick out a stuffed animal. At BAB, they put a “heart” inside the stuffed animal, and so the child put their paci inside the stuffed animal before it was stitched up. That way, they know where it is, and stil have the protection, but have no way of getting access to it. Good luck!

    • OMG. This is PERFECT. I wish I had thought of this! I just read this and my mouth hung open!! I am going to run this by my husband and see what he thinks. I think Eddie would very much love this idea rather than thinking that Pipey is gone forever.

  11. Kate. Know that anyone who judges you for this (or hell, anything else) can fuck off. It is hard to let go (and yes, I mean as parents; it’s not just a transition for the kids) and knowing your Ed is how you’ll get through this, when you are ready to actually get through it. Zaid is 3. He still has his pass at night, only at night. Although, he’s now asking for it at nap on weekends (he doesn’t have it at school). He’s even asking for it outside of nap and bed, so we are not there yet and I am fine with it. Sometimes I’m all but he’s a big boy, I should make him be a big boy and then I smack myself for the word make because I don’t want to force him into anything. I want to help him. I want him to feel like he made the decision. You’ll get there. Just know you don’t have to apologize or feel heavy hearted with us.

  12. It’s really affecting his teeth? Our pediatric dentist says that usually doesn’t happen until 5. (just giving you some hope)

    I’m a paci sucker (heh) and had mine until 5. My oldest gave it up on his own around 3 (thank you 8 pound baby jesus) and my youngest will probably have it when she walks down the aisle (eek)

  13. I have worked as a Dental Assistant strictly with Peds for almost a third of my life now. I have worked with the old birds (Dentists) set in their silly ways and I have helped the baby birds establish their practices. And every single one has their own theories and opinions, fun times. But I didn’t enter this line of work for the Dr, I do it for all the littles that come into the office, slightly scared of the unknown.
    From 0-12mns its believed that the sucking motion is soothing and relaxing to babies, but on day 12mns 1day it instantly became a habit. Somehow. Some littles just chew on their loves, while others really hunker down with the suction and that is what really determines the outcome. So the Paci is technically working like any other orthodontic device. Slow movement over time. Its believed that the sooner they stop the lip/cheek pressure (for the upper jaw) and the tongue pressure (for the lower front teeth) will help move things into a more suitable position.
    Personally I love those little mouths. I preferred my thumb for far too long (9yrs?10yrs?) and it was my decision to quit. My mother literally had to hold that hand while I slept for a couple days, I cried begging her help. And because of that memory I would gladly give my child a Pacifier.
    Is it a possibility, and I don’t know if this has been said, for you to talk with Eddie about snipping (cutting) off those holes (so there basically isn’t anything to suck) and attaching it to Lamby so Lamby won’t be lonely and Pipey won’t really be gone?

  14. Ah brings back memories of 18 years ago. My daughter was such a “Boppie” kid and had the teeth to prove it. One of the reasons I let her have it for so long is that she was an intense little girl. I mean really, really intense. She had a very hard time self soothing, and it was the Boppie that gave ME a break because it was only when that was in her mouth that she’d calm down and settle (and stop talking…hehe).

    Here’s the thing…it’s a HUGE deal right now, but in the scheme of a long life, it’s not. So, go at his pace. His teeth will settle into place almost immediately after it’s gone, really they will. As for judging people…everyone has the perfect plan for OTHER people. Do what is right for you and your family and keep on loving your little guy(s).

  15. First, can I just give you a hug, here on the internet?

    Ok, now I know exactly how you feel Katie, I do. Jacob (and Gio to a much less extent) were like cult followers of their NUKs (that’s what they called them, MY NUK etc..just like Pipey, just like the “people” they were. It helped them sleep, it helped them calm down, it helped them be less shy. And because their mom (me) still sucks her thumb even now at 42, I wasn’t going to PUSH them to get rid of them. I knew how much COMFORT it gave them, in real world terms)

    but my husband (and pretty much our whole family) was ready for them to give them away, I was afraid. I was afraid of the crying, the tantrums, the COMFORT they wouldn’t be getting anymore, but they were 4 1/2 and even though I don’t care to admit it, it probably was time.

    so I went to BlogHer for the weekend and my husband told me that by the time he picked me up in NYC on Sunday afternoon our sons would be NUK FREE. I scoffed and got on the bus to the city.

    but on Friday night, I got two pictures sent to my phone…of my sons with LETTERS from the NUK fairy and a BIG ASS SMiles on because they were going to be helping another BABY somewhere by giving away their nuks. I was flabbergasted and so impressed with my husband , who did it so well.

    since that day in August , no more Nuks..and the fallout I expected, the months of whining or days of whimpering, never happened.

    It was so much harder for me…maybe that’s why it was better that it happened when I was away, so I understand why you are feeling the sting of this. I get it. I understand it and it’s also a part of their babyhood that is going away. it’s a cornucopia of emotions.

    hang in there, do it the way it will work FOR YOU and in the time frame you can live with.

    GOOD LUCK and say hi to the PIPEY Fairy for me.

  16. It is a hard thing. And life is hard enough. We haven’t had pacis or thumb sucking but I know it’s hard because I’ve seen my nephews and friends go through it.

    At this point, what’s a little longer? You guys do it on your schedule. He won’t be a baby forever.


  17. This is a perfect example of why parenting is not one-size-fits-all. Because every child, every circumstance is unique. I think the extra time and care you are taking with his feelings are far more important than the effect Pipey will have on his teeth for another few weeks.

    Also? LOVE the Build-a-bear suggestion. Seems like a great solution. Ryan was never a big pacifier kid, but I’m filing this away in case future kid #2 is.

  18. I’ve always wondered where the name Pipey came from. Now I know!

    I feel for you, and I love the support you’re getting from your readers. It’s clear that you and Cort are doing a fantastic job. Hang in there – poor Eddie! If I had to take away my five year old’s blanket, there would be lots and lots of tears!

  19. My youngest is 3.5 and very similar – still has a binky and is slow to change. I have told her when she is ready to give it up, the pacifier will go away. Some kids just need it a bit longer than others (my oldest was done before she was 1). Every kid gets around the block at their own pace but the most important thing is that they DO in fact get around that block. You are listening to your child and that is terrific.

  20. both of my boys were very attached to their binky’s and with kid #1 we snipped off all the tops and he was heartbroken that we could be so cruel…it may have been my very first mom fail…
    the second time around we went to build a bear and all 7 of Jack’s binkys went into a bear of his choice…and he slept with that bear for many years…although he’d still randomly check my pockets to see if we have spares…
    Good luck…
    My four year old daughter sucks her thumb and I have no idea how to take care of that…

  21. You will get no judgement form me. It’s hard. So hard. Lucas has a blanket lovey and calls it and almost everything else “him”. Then again, so do I. Good luck with this transition.

  22. This makes me glad that the girl never took to a pacifier. I would have been like you and never been able to make her go without it.

    I see it’s been thought of several times over to figure out a way to put Pipey with Lamby somehow. I love the idea of maybe putting him in Lamby or into a Build a Bear. I hope all of you can get through this. It’s got to be so hard. I hate the idea of having my baby grow up even though I know she has to. <3