Dropping the Pacifier

We have been through many transitions in these almost 3 years of triplet parenthood. Some easier than others. The move from our room to their nursery wasn’t too bad. The move from rock-n-plays to their cribs was a little harder. The transition out of swaddles was a scary one. Switching from formula to milk and from bottles to sippy cups all turned out better than I had imagined. Starting pre-school was fairly smooth. Learning to eat baby food and then solid food was a mess but fun.

Learning to crawl and walk with all 3 was exhausting but exciting. Helping SLO learn to talk without comparing them or making them feel behind or different was a challenge but communication with them has been so incredibly helpful and makes for really cute stories. We tried the whole potty training thing, but well we still have a ways to go. I’m sure there will be a post on that in the future, but it’s still a work in progress – a messy work in progress. I cannot even think yet about transitioning from cribs to toddler beds with all 3 in the same room (#cribsforlife). Another transition, one that I had been fearing was…the dropping of the beloved pacifier.

Now Lucy girl never took to a paci. She shunned it and clung to a little, soft, lovie that she refers to as “Pink.” Thankfully it is the color pink, so she makes up for her lack of originality with accuracy – although she does have a blue one that she calls “two” but it is much inferior to “Pink” and not at all the point of this post haha…My boys, on the other hand, loved their pacifiers. Our pediatrician warned us at their 2 year well-check that we might need to start weening them off of the paci, but I was in no rush for that to happen. Having good and quiet sleepers is how I survive life with 3 toddlers, and the thought of taking away the one thing that helped them get to sleep and stay asleep…well it was terrifying. I couldn’t imagine the havoc that cold turkey would cause to my very active and loud boys, so I took a different approach. I went for the long con. I slowly started taking away the pacifier. 

Step ONE: Pacifiers stay at the house. This one we did fairly early on. I would keep a couple in the diaper bag for emergencies but encouraged school and the church nursery to only use them for emergencies.

Step TWO: Pacifiers stay in their bed. They could use them at nap or bedtime but that is it. We stayed at this step for several months. They were always excited for bed and nap because that meant that they could have a hit of the paci. They surprisingly didn’t fight this as much as I thought. I had to be VERY consistent with it though. I did not allow any exceptions. They each had about 3 in their bed so that they could find one at all times while sleeping. Sleep again is crucial for our sanity. Mostly I just watched their cues. I noticed that once they gained more language and vocabulary I was able to teach them other coping skills for being frustrated and scared. Honestly Daniel Tiger helped some with this too. He is so good at teaching them how to cope with emotions in a healthy way. We do a lot of deep breathing. I encourage them to take breaks when they start feeling fussy or agitated and make it a fun thing. They get to sit on the guest bed with pillows and books and even a flashlight to take a break away from the others. Then they come back ready to play again.

Sidenote: All that to say, if a pacifier helps your child feel safe and secure – I am not at all trying to convince you that should change. I am all for pacifiers and all for calm and emotionally secure toddlers. We all do what we think is best for our kids at the time. It’s so hard to know! I just thought I would try to see if I could convince them to find other ways besides the pacifier to calm down, and for the most part it worked.

Step THREE: We slowly started reducing the number of pacifiers in their beds. At one point I think that both O & S each had 5. But we reduced it to 3 in each bed. Then after a couple weeks, we reduced down to 2. Then after a couple weeks we reduced to just 1. We stayed there for a little while, and I didn’t even talk about where the others were disappearing to. I was sneaky.

Step FOUR: We slowly and intentionally started encouraging both boys to find a stuffed animal or blanket that they wanted to sleep with and encouraged that as a form of security so that they would not see the pacifier as their only form of security at nighttime. For Oliver it became a little puppy stuffed animal (which he named “Puppy”). For Shepherd it was a blanket that my mom made out of one of their old sleep sacs that he loved and a stuffed Pokemon Bulbasaur (“Car-Car” and “Bulba). Again, they are very original in their naming skills. Oh and Shepherd also had a Cocker Spaniel beanie baby that he called “Lion.” So that one is kind of original. 

Step FIVE: Taking away that final pacifier from their crib was a little harder. I couldn’t just sneak it away. First we focused on taking it away at nighttime but kept it at naptime. At night, it’s not as big of a deal if they take a while to fall asleep. I knew it was time when the boys started chewing on the pacifiers. I would wake up to find shredded pieces of the pacifier nub in their crib. A lot of people cut off the nub and say it broke, but my boys started doing that themselves. I randomly made a deal. I had no idea if it would work, but it DID! I told them that big boys fall asleep by reading books. I told them that if they wanted to be a big boy they could trade in their pacifier for a book! They could sleep with the book and read it as they fell asleep in bed. I hyped it up big time. Oliver right away was pumped and picked a book (not paper pages and nothing that could be ripped up easily), and surprisingly he did super well with it!! Shepherd took a little while longer, but that was ok with me. Every night and every day at nap for about a month I would ask, “Do you want to be a big boy and read to fall asleep??” And for a while Shepherd would say “No, I want paci.” BUT he would see that Oliver got to read cool books. When Shepherd chose pacifier, he did not get anything else in his bed. He had to choose. Eventually they picked book and never looked back. Shepherd probably lasted 2-3 weeks longer than Oliver at nighttime and then he slept with his pacifier at nap time for even several weeks after that. Eventually though they were just ready.

Again, this worked for us, but it may not work for you and that’s ok. We all just find the right thing and right way for you, your family, and your kids! I thought it might be helpful to share our story of dropping the pacifier.

Climbing out of cribs, Taking clothes off, Our first batch of stitches, and more!

In the last few months, our 3 toddlers have learned how to be expert climbers. We love to share the tricks that we have learned. First off, I am thankful that we have been extra vigilant in tethering all of our furniture to the wall and baby proofing to the max. With three monkeys running around, I wanted to feel confident that even though there are more of them than my number of arms, they are safe in our house. Somehow the kids constantly still find ways to show us what we need to add to the baby proofing list. For instance, our stairs are still gated even though they are really good at climbing chairs simply because I need a place to put things that they cannot get to! All of our cabinets are locked. except for the bathroom cabinets which we just cleared out and let the kids climb through freely as a sort of jungle gym, and our dining room chairs stay pushed against the wall all day unless we are eating so that they are not another jungle gym. 

We did have our first batch of stitches. Sweet Shepherd fell off of a little kid’s chair and hit his head at just the right spot. He wasn’t doing anything crazy or climbing where he shouldn’t. I think he might have inherited my ability to run into things and fall ungracefully. Sorry Shep! It split right above is right eye. I immediately called my wonderful pediatrician only to learn that my pediatrician does not give stitches. We had to take him to our nearest Urgent Care, but Urgent Care doesn’t open until 11am so we stopped the bleeding with neosporin and a bandaid until we could get there. Also, we went during Shepherd’s nap time with a scheduled appointment so that we could miss most of the germs in the waiting room.  I feared that it would be exhausting for him to go during his nap time, but it turned out to be amazing. He slept through all 4 stitches!! 

On another note. We have done 2 things that have been successful in helping the kids to stay in their cribs and pack-n-plays. 2/3 take naps in a pack-n-play so that they can all nap in different rooms, and we use pack-n-plays when we travel. They started climbing out of those first. Oliver was the main culprit. He would climb out but then be immediately terrified and want back in. We could tell that for our 3, toddler beds would not be a good option yet. Fixing the crib situation was easier. We first dropped the crib mattresses to the ground which instantly helped. We had to be careful to not leave a gap between the mattress and the crib rail. We put quilts and thick fleece blankets under the mattresses to make sure that the mattresses were tall enough and that there was no gap. They have been sleeping like this in their cribs for a couple months now, and it works great!

IMG_1561

We also had one of our 3 start to take their pajamas and diaper off in the night. I walked in one morning to a naked Lucy. She was so confused at why this was concerning. She was sitting in a puddle of pee (thankfully not poop) saying “I NAKED!” When I asked her why she was naked she said, “I pee-pee.” Well, it’s hard to argue with that. I think she might be closer to potty training than I am. I am SO NOT ready to go down that road yet. So anyway, to help them keep their clothes on, and to also help them stay in the pack-n-plays we decided to add a sleep sac into the bedtime routine. It not only encourages them to keep their clothes on, but it keeps them in the crib/pack-n-play because in the potato sac fleece they can’t use their legs to climb. And they LOVE sleeping in it! They beg to put them on at night. I think it brings them back to their swaddle loving days, but their arms are free. It zips from the bottom so it’s much harder for them to unzip it. They are currently wearing a size Large. Link for the Halo sleep sac

IMG_2859

This was taken the morning of their 2nd birthday, and I put them all in one crib to try and get a cute picture.  Lucy is not a morning person. haha They do NOT all sleep together. 

We have also learned that it is possible to make a 15 hour car trip in one day with toddler triplets. We left at 3am, and they slept for the first 4-5 hours, and took a 2 hour nap during the drive. It made the trip so much better with them sleeping for a good bit of it. We only stopped a couple times to eat, get gas, and stretch our legs and even then the kids stayed fairly happy. I would move back and forth between the front seat and sitting in the back to entertain.

IMG_1242

We also, moved the triplets car seats to forward facing right at their 2 year birthday. We love our Diono carseats that can fit 3 across on the back row of our van!! They love being able to see everything as we drive now. It is so much fun, but I am so glad that I waited until they were 2 to turn them.

IMG_3160

Please let me know if you have any other questions about my current triplet toddler life!! I would love to write some things that you are curious about!