Help with the loss of our Pacifier!

by Brandi
(Charleston, WV)

My 2 1/2 year old son was diagnosed with SPD shortly after his second birthday. He is currently working with an OT, Developmental Specialist, and a Speech Pathologist.

At our last check up and the pediatrician's she told us it was time to get rid of the pacifier because his teeth were starting to be affected. So we went cold turkey. That next day we took away the "Pi Pi", as he called it, and he really didn't ask for it much after that.

But, now he has started having major meltdowns. Not just your typical 2 year old tantrums, I mean meltdowns. He has always been a sweet, loving baby who has never met a stranger, but now he seems so distressed at little things. He loves constant motion and craves to be in the car. When it's time to get out, he freaks out. Screaming, crying, kicking, slapping, clawing at your face, and that's not my baby. We've have several episodes the last few weeks over different things, and nothing seems to soothe him. It used to be that we would give him his pacifier and he would calm right down.

I'm not saying he never threw tantrums before, but never to this magnitude. He's also developed a lot of separation anxiety since we took the pacifier away. I feel like that his pacifier was his bestest friend in life and we took it away. Our therapists seem to think he really craves that oral stimulation, but I hate to go backward now since he's been without it for 3 weeks.

If anyone has any suggestions I would greatly appreciate them. Our pediatrician seems to think it's just a phase he's going through and that it just happened to come up at the same time we took the pacifier away. I don't agree, so that's why I'm looking to all of you for some help because you live with this everyday, as do I. Thanks!

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Feb 25, 2010
Replacement for Pacifier
by: Anonymous

It could be coincidence but parents are usually correct in how they view their own children. The soother was definitely just that , a "soother" and it needs to be replaced. Your child may benefit from calming activities. Your OT can likely set you up with a sensory diet of movement activities and some proprioceptive activities which may replace what your child got from the soother. For example, rolling on a therapy ball and/or depending if the soother was used to chew on (Chewlery may be a good replacement) or suck on (a thick milkshake may help), often weighted items like a lap toy or pillow help calm, as can being read to while lying on your tummy (body gets a lot of input from the floor through joints, muscles and tendons).Hope some of that helps!

Feb 23, 2010
by: K Mathieson

My Daughter also has SPD and apraxia of speech. She used to drink incredible volumes of milk and did not want a soother. Somewhere around the age of 3 I weaned her off the nipple bottle. (She really needed to suck on it to regulate herself) I gave a soother which she happily took. She was over 5 before she quit with the pacifier. I let her have it only at night and them finally that was it. She is very intelligent and gifted, when we explained that she was using the soother to regulate her "engine" she found more appropriate ways regulate.

An occupational therapist should be able to help as well. I tried to get rid of the soother to soon, this resulted in extreme meltdowns. She chewed her sleeve, her toys, her pencils, or ate paper off crayons, anything to get oral stimulation. I also supplementing with omega 3 helped with her SPD and speech. Don't push him, let him have it in the car, or in private at home and at bed. His nervous system needs the stimulation and he is smart enough to know this. Forget what others think. Hope this helps.

Oct 16, 2008
Might help you
by: Anonymous

My daughter is 3 and she needs a lot of input in her mouth and what I bought was a vibrating teething toy and she loves that. Also I have those toys that you would use for the pool for that game Marco Polo and all she will do is bite on and suck on them. It helped her a lot and I hope this will help you too.

Nov 24, 2007
Same Boat
by: Anonymous


My son is 2 years old and we're currently getting him evaluated by a speech therapist and an occupational therapist for speech delay and some behavioral issues. The speech therapist from early intervention told us to get rid of the pacifier because it may be affecting his speech. We also got rid of it cold turkey. It's been almost 3 weeks and his tantrums are the worst we've ever seen. We can't get him to nap. He used to easily sleep through the night and now each night is a struggle. I'm at my wits end.

We don't know how to soothe him and when he gets into a tantrum or mood, it's almost impossible to bring him out of it. Most people I know who have gotten rid of the pacifier have a few tough days and things go back to normal, but this is just getting worse, and his separation anxiety is a lot worse. I too am looking for any suggestions or recommendations. We've tried stuffed animals and blankets to help him sleep, and it doesn't help. We're really struggling...

I know this is difficult!! But, I also know you are doing the right things by seeking professional help and evaluations. Through treatment, this WILL get better! I know that doesn't help today, but I want you to try a few things that might help, ok?

1. An Epsom Salts bath before bed

2. A deep pressure lotion massage several times throughout the day, especially in the evening.

3. Gentle rocking in a glider rocker chair, hammock, on his belly over the top of an exercise ball... slow, steady rhythmical rocking back and forth.

4. Heavy work activities throughout the day.

5. Gradual dimming of lights, noises, etc. throughout the evening.

6. A white noise machine or nature sound machine to fall asleep to.

7. A bed tent.

8. A sleeping bag stuffed tight with him in it and a body pillow or big stuffed animals to "squeeze" him.

9. Put the mattress on the floor.

10. Drinking a thick fruit milkshake through a straw before bed.

11. Doing some "squishing" activities before bed.

Any of these products can be found on various pages throughout the site and on the SPD Store. Go to my site search and enter any of these terms, choosing the button for my site, not the web. Also, my store can be found at SPD Store.

Specific pages that will help can be found on my navigation bar... "helping babies sleep", "sensory products", "treatment activities", etc. If all else fails, go to my site map and you should find even more articles that should help.

Nov 09, 2007
by: Anonymous

It could be the oral stim he is craving (to calm himself) but it could also be calming in general. You likely tried some of these but here are a few other calming ideas that may help:

-if he likes the car (sound) he may also be calmed or soothed by an "Obus" type sound therapy (makes a number of different relaxing sounds like: water running, helps my boys sleep at night), the sound of a fan running does similar things

-sitting in a large, all encompassing bean bag chair or squishing him in it or squishing him between two couch cushions


-if he used it to go to bed, there are ways to set up the sleeping area to help induce calm: have a bed rail on the bed to have an enclosed area (I still use for my 7 yr old, not because he may fall out but because he likes to be enclosed), set pillows surrounding him - but not so they would fall on his face - to get the same feeling or even a bed tent or sleeping bag or weighted blanket.

-even a special sippie cup with a "nipple" / spout similar to the pacifier, then keep slowly modifying it until he can use one that looks like a regular sippie (even putting things in like milkshakes or apple sauce require him to suck harder to get the liquid out - which is also calming)

Neither of my boys ever took a pacifier so we had to deal with these "self-soothing" issues early in their life, either way, they crop up sometime.

Good luck and keep strong!

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