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My 3-year-old still uses a pacifier and I refuse to feel guilty about it

It's her crutch—our crutch. And sometimes, as a mother, you need and deserve a crutch to lean on.

older child pacifier

I was so nervous to say it, I almost hoped they wouldn't ask at all. If they didn't ask, maybe I could just keep it to myself, not mention it at all. I wouldn't be lying, I'd just be omitting.

But then, once we were seated, I just blurted it out. They didn't even bring it up. I did, like some sort of self-sabotager. They had been asking my child what color toothbrush they wanted, for goodness sake, and there I am basically shouting, "OKAY, OKAY, YOU'VE GOT ME! MY CHILD IS STILL USING HER PACIFIER!".

(Or "mimi" as we call them in our home.)

This was three years ago with my oldest child—at the dentist check-up she had six months prior to this particular one, I had promised up, down, left and right that I was going to work really hard on getting my kiddo to stop using her mimi. That maybe we'd start by only letting her use it for bedtime, and we'd eventually get rid of it altogether.

But we didn't. I didn't even try that hard, to be honest. My child loved her mimi. It calmed her down. It was her comfort, her security.


It was my crutch. My helper. And honestly, sometimes you need that. Sometimes, as a mother, you need and deserve a crutch to lean on. Sometimes that looks like extra iPad or TV time. Sometimes that looks like turning an eye to thumb-sucking or how they insist on carrying a ginormous teddy bear everywhere. Sometimes that looks like breastfeeding your baby to sleep each night or lying with them in their twin-sized bed, making sure their nightmares don't come as they drift off to sleep.

Sometimes, what makes your life easier at the moment is a totally valid and 100% okay choice to make.

Sometimes, removing the weight off your own shoulders, feels nice, doesn't it?

Sometimes, recognizing that this one little thing you do or you let your child do—that is not harming or hurting anyone—is actually not that big of a deal. That you don't have to dedicate so much of your thoughts or worries to it. That it is small potatoes in the grand scheme of life and parenting.

Fast-forward to today, my almost-7-year-old doesn't use a mimi anymore. Her mimies are long gone. My big kid's teeth are healthy and they're falling out left and right. (Like, in a healthy way.) The last time she was at the dentist she did great! Gold stars all around, four-plus years of mimi use and all.

But, I did have this same deja-vu experience at the dentist with my youngest child just last week. Without being asked, I awkwardly (and insecurely) shouted out the fact that my little one still uses her mimi as a 3-year-old. Now, maybe the hygienist and dentist could tell it had already been an emotional day or maybe they noticed the dark bags under my eyes, but both of them looked at me and said, "Don't worry about it! It's okay. We just try to think more seriously about it when their adult teeth start growing it."

I took a deep breath and reminded myself—Right. It's okay. I've been here before. I've seen this play out. It is okay.

I trust that my kids will stop using mimies when they are ready to do so. When they figure out different coping skills that work for them that they can sub in for a mimi. When they understand how to calm their bodies and regulate their emotions in other ways.

When they don't need their mimi, they won't use it anymore. So why do I need to take it from my youngest now when she still loves it? At night, I like to watch Schitt's Creek in bed on my phone with my headphones in. I usually have a nice cup of hot tea beside me and my robe wrapped around me. It makes me feel calm and happy and loved.

What if my child or husband or the Life Police came and told me that TV before bed is bad for you and this is a ridiculous tea choice and you need to end this behavior right now. What if they deleted Netflix off my phone and yanked my robe off and dumped my tea? I'd feel sad and angry. It just wouldn't fly. I'd want those things back to help me unwind. I wouldn't want to find a new way to unwind when I already had a good thing going. I'll find another thing when that combo doesn't serve me anymore.

I trust in my child and I trust in my parenting that my children will find other comfort measures when their old ones aren't serving them anymore, either.

We are the ones who know our kids best. No one else. Not the old lady in the grocery store who scolds you for letting your kid use a pacifier at such an age. Not the family member who never skips a chance to comment on it. And definitely not the parenting meme you saw shaming pacifier usage in general.

We know them.

We know what works. We know what doesn't.

Using a mimi works for my 3-year-old.

If it doesn't work for someone else, well, that sounds like a them-problem, not an us-problem.

Get ready to meet you child's new favorite pacifier.

Llama pacifier

lily llama pacifier

Llamas are all the rage right now, and we're pretty sure your little llama lover will adore this llama paci! This can be used for all ages, just be sure to remove the plush part for sleeping when your child is under the age of one.

$18

Lion pacifier

lion pacifier

Bedtime is anything but scary when they have their favorite lion by their side! This can be used for all ages, but remember to remove the plush part for sleeping when your child is under the age of one.

$18

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With fall in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in outside-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Detective set

Plan Toys detective set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

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Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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