How to take a soother away from a toddler

Does your toddler love their soother? Ours wouldn’t go anywhere new without hers. She wouldn’t sleep without hers. She couldn’t get through a tantrum without hers. It was her only comfort item which made is SO HARD to take away. We felt terrible taking that comfort from her. But Langley’s soother obsession was effecting the alignment of her teeth, so we knew it had to go. Many kids do not have teeth issues with soothers, but if they do, paediatric dentists recommend removing the soother before 3 years old so that their teeth have the opportunity to self correct with their growing bodies. So about two months ago we finally bit the bullet and got rid of Langley’s soother (or soothers I should say, she had about 8 of them)! Our daughter was 2.5 years old and we felt like she was ready. I had a few people ask me to share how it went/what method we tried, so here is what worked for us!

WHEN is the best time?

Every kid is different, but here is how we decided when to take the soother away. First, we wanted to do it before she was 3 years old as recommended by her dentist. She had a 7 millimetre gap between the top and bottom teeth which prevented her from biting food with her front teeth. The dentist said her bite should correct itself as long as we took away the soother before she was 3 years old. And it has already significantly improved!! In two months she now only has a 3 millimetre gap!

Second, I was advised by child behaviourists and child phycologists that taking away her biggest form of comfort should be done two months before/after big life events. A big life event for a toddler is: getting a new sibling, moving to a new room, changing from crib to a big-kid-bed, potty training, or a big trip like a vacation where her routine is way off. I also read to avoid taking away soothers during teething. Due to Langley switching to her new room at 19 months old, then her sister was born when she was 20 months old, then she switched to her big girl bed at 21 months old, and then we went on a month long roadtrip to British Columbia 23-24 months old, then she got her last 4 molars from 25-28 months old, we just didn’t see an opportunity for this big change until she was 30 months old.

HOW we took the soother away.

I considered the “Soother Fairy” but could not think of a good replacement item for the fairy to give her. It’s supposed to be another comfort item but Langley has never taken to stuffies/lovies/blankies. I considered taking it away cold turkey but that felt harsh. Then I read a method where you cut off the tips of the soothers so they cannot form a suction and the kid decides to throw them out themselves because they do not like it anymore. I liked the sound of it kind of being her own decision so this is what we went with. We cut off the tips for her bedtime, and she threw them in the garbage herself because she disliked them so much! But then she regretted it and cried for 3 hours. 😅

The first 2 weeks were the hardest. She just didn’t know how to comfort herself to sleep. There was a lot of crying, a lot of cuddling with Mommy and Daddy, and a lot less sleep. Especially in the morning. Instead of waking at 7am, she was suddenly up at 5am. Instead of falling asleep at 8pm she was awake until 10/11pm. But after a couple weeks her sleep slowly improved, she cried less, and she asked for her “su-su” less. Now it’s been two months and she doesn’t ask at all! We kept reinforcing that soothers are only for babies (to justify why her little sister still has one) and she proudly says she’s a “big girl” so she doesn’t need one anymore!

This transition is not easy, and one that I hope most kids can naturally grow out of. But if you have a dental/health concern, I hope our experience can help make yours just a little bit smoother. Or at least give you the heads to expect a bit less sleep. 🙂 Good luck!

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