Pacifier Weaning: How to Ditch the Pacifier | Parenting Guide

There is no doubt that a baby look so adorable while sucking a pacifier. But, if your kid is a toddler now and still loves using a pacifier, then it’s time to interfere. While some toddlers will give up that habit on their own, without a fuss, others might still enjoy it if you don’t take any action. Well, we can’t deny the benefits of pacifiers. However, at some point, your child has to give it up. After all, no kid should go to primary school with a pacifier in their mouth! Read on to help your child with these tips for pacifier weaning.

Best Time to Start Weaning

Every baby is different! So, unfortunately, there’s no magic age. While some parents wean their babies as early as 5 or 6 months, others let their toddlers hang onto their pacifiers until age 3. Honestly, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to the way people use pacifiers. 

The earlier you do this, the easier it’s going to be! The same is true for sleep training, potty training, or other things associated with raising children. Therefore, experts agree that it’s best to wean pacifiers before 12 months old. During this time, your child hasn’t had the time (or the cognitive ability) to form a deep attachment to a pacifier. So, taking it away will be easy and way faster than when they’re older. After 18 months old, try to take it away and it’ll probably be much harder. It’s not impossible, but it’s not pleasant either. 

Remember that beyond 3 years old and you add the risk of causing dental problems, which is difficult and costly to correct.

Easy Ways to Wean Off Pacifiers

Unlike the other weaning, pacifier weaning can be quite tough. There are many strategies to pull this off. However, while some techniques might work with your kids, others might not. So, choose the approach that you think will work for your child and that you can be consistent with it.

Lower the Frequency

You should try to explain what will happen before reducing the frequency. If your child uses the pacifier throughout the day, you can first cut down to using it only in the car or playtime, and then just at bedtime. Finally, when your kid loses their interest, you can take it away completely.

Make Pacifiers Less Interesting

Babies use pacifiers to satisfy their sucking reflex. So, you can cut off the tip of the pacifier or snip a hole in it, and the pacifier no longer provides suction. Make sure the cut it’s hard to see. Therefore, your kid won’t notice their favorite “toy” was sabotaged. After that, give it to your child as usual. But, this time the pacifier can’t provide anything. And then, your little one will start to get bored and eventually stop using it.

Offer a Reward

This method might not be effective for under 12-month-old kids since they won’t understand the concept of it. If your kid is older, explain that you’re going to take away the pacifier, but allow your child to choose a reward in return. This could be a toy, a special experience, or whatever your kid likes to trade.

Tips for Pacifier Weaning

Stand Firm in your Approach. The biggest thing that makes you successful is consistency. If you take away the pacifier for a while and give it back when your kid is fussy about it, then things only get more difficult. 

Note: The only exception is when you take away the pacifier and they switch out for the thumb or a finger. In that case, you should give the pacifier back. Thumb-sucking habit is very difficult to break because you can’t really take their “new pacifier” away! Therefore, we recommended trying again after a couple of months.

Get Everyone in the Family on Board. When your kid can’t get what they want from you, they may turn to other people in the family. So, make sure everyone is of the same mind.

Prepare Yourself. Things can get out of control faster than you think. So, it’s good to find more ways to soothe your child. This could be an activity you do before bedtime. For example, when your child would normally reach for the pacifier: a back rub, cuddling, or lying down together.

Stay Calm. Once you’ve established the next few days or weeks will be bumpier than usual. Your child may cry or scream more often, demand more attention, or be resistant to probably anything. All of that can be very annoying. We suggest finding some activities so you can relax and then get back to weaning.

We hope our tips will help you and your kid go through this process easier. Don’t give up, you can do it Mom! If you have any questions or want to help other moms by sharing your kid’s pacifier weaning experience in the comments.

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