As Sunshine’s third birthday approached, I started thinking maybe this milestone was a good time to get rid of her soother. I’d heard a couple other moms mention that their children gave up soothers around three years old. She only used it for falling asleep at night, but it seemed like time for her to learn to go to sleep sans soother.
That was still just a thought in my head on the day I gathered up all the soothers in the house—it was actually quite rare that I could find both of Sunshine’s soothers and all four of Lily’s—and dropped them in a pot of water to boil. The girls were both getting over colds and the soothers had been dragged around the house for a while; some sanitation seemed like a good idea. Then Lily needed a diaper change, and Sunshine came upstairs with us to find some toys.
When I ran back downstairs to check on the soothers, they were a melted puddle in the bottom of the pot. Perhaps I should have kept them as a sort of “modern mommy art” or a tribute to the last soothers, but I dumped them in the garbage. Then I began worrying about bedtime. My husband had the Jeep at work, so I couldn’t just run out to get more soothers. Maybe we could pick up a couple after he’d gotten home and we’d gone to Mass for the evening. Or maybe this was a good time to get Sunshine out of the soother habit.
Just before bedtime, on our way home from church, I bought two soothers for Lily—not the kind that she liked, because the only store open at that hour on a Sunday night didn’t have the ones she liked. At home, I got the girls ready for bed. I explained to Sunshine that she was a big girl who didn’t need a soother now. We read her bedtime stories, tucked her in, and then she begged, cajoled, whined, and finally threw a full-out temper tantrum over the lack of the soother.
The next night, Sunshine asked once for her soother and I explained that she was a big girl who didn’t need it and she went to bed without further comment. Lily continued to despise her new soothers unless she was so tired she didn’t notice the difference (which, I decided, was a good thing, as then she used the soother less and only when she really wanted it).
Night three, Sunshine asked for her soother and threw a token temper tantrum (the annoying, whiny kind that she could stop in an instant if I gave her what she wanted) for two minutes, and fell asleep. And that was the end of her soother.
Occasionally, she steals one of Lily’s soothers, but with Lily using her soothers much less, the stealing is also much rarer. We’ve gone from a desperate dash around the house every night to find one of those four soothers, to two soothers that stay by Lily’s crib for bedtime use only. I don’t recommend boiling soothers to death, but in this case, it solved our soother problem.