Weaning a child off a pacifier can be stressful for a child and their parents, and so it’s a parenting challenge that parents often ask me about.
Pacifiers, also known as soothers, Nuks, paci’s and dummies (depending on your location in the world) can be a real blessing when your infant is young. Eventually though, if a child doesn’t give the pacifier up on his own, there usually comes a time when the parent wants their child to give up this much-loved comfort item.
Many parents think that getting a child to give up their pacifier will be so stressful that they allow their child to keep using it. However, as every day passes, the child becomes more attached and dependent on the soother, making it even harder to think about taking the soother away.
Well, don’t stress, Mama. If you’re thinking it’s time for your little one to give up the soother, I have some suggestions that will help to make it as stress-free as possible.
I recently asked my Facebook followers for their advice on the topic, and I’ve gathered up their best tips and tricks!
Child with soother via Shutterstock
First of all, let me say that there was an outpouring of support for continuing to use the pacifier, and letting the child decide when to give it up. I’ll share some of those snippets with your first:
- One reader said “Our doctor told us that babies like their pacifiers just like we like to use our own pillows.” It is comforting, so wait until they past the 1 year mark to remove it.
- Pacifiers are used to protect again sids.
- Most babies like pacifiers because they do actually pacify and calm the child. However, if your baby is waking numerous times a night, rather than just popping the soother back in, you should see if your child is actually hungry.
- If your baby loses his his pacifier in the night, try leaving several in the crib. That way, they can just reach and grab another one.
But if you’ve decided that it’s well and truly time to say “bye-bye binky”, read on…
Ways to get your child to give up a soother:
(each of the following points come from our awesome readers that have been there…)
- Use the soother only at night time: Keep a small bowl of soothers in the corner of their crib. Teach your child to put his soothers in the bowl they get out of bed. This helps your child associate the pacifier with sleep-time. It also helps them know where to find the pacifiers if they lose theirs in the night.
- Allow the pacifier only at naptime and bedtime.
- Have the “pacifier fairy” collect all of your child’s soothers, and leave a special gift in their place.
- As soon as your child is asleep, remove the pacifier from his mouth.
- While weaning, put all soothers in a hard-to-get-at place, so YOU can’t easily cave and get one when you’re frustrated, exhausted etc.
- Offer your child a cuddly alternative to a soother. A snuggly, lightweight blanket or a stuffed animal can provide comfort. Every time she cries for her soother, pat her back, stroke her head and tuck the new comfort item into her hand. This can take up to 3 nights but it will work.
- Use a noise machine to help your child sleep more soundly. The less your child wakes up in the night, the less they’ll cry out for their soother.
- A very popular trend is to have the pacifier sewn into a stuffed animal.
- If your child associates their soother with nap time, consider waiting until they are old enough to give up their nap.
- Buy a special toy they can have at nap time – a new princess toy or superhero toy that is great for snuggling.
- Starting a new nightly tradition can distract a child who is missing his soother – try a special bedtime story or a warm cup of milk.
- In exchange for the soother, give your child a new nightlight and a special pillow.
- Try a sticker chart. Give them a sticker each time they wake up in the morning without crying at bedtime.
- Read books, such as Bye Bye Binky by Brigette Weninger or Bea Gives Up Her Pacifier by Jenny Album. (affiliate)
- Cut off the top of the soother, and let them hold the plastic part of the pacifier.
- Let them listen to a book on tape, before bed, to help them focus on the book and not the pacifier.
And the easiest way to get rid of the soother:
I received this tip soother-weaning tip dozens of times, because parents everywhere have had success with this simple trick. Even my own daycare families have done this, and it’s worked:
The easiest way to break your child of the soother habit is to snip a small hole in the soother with a pair of scissors.
When your child sucks on the soother, there will be very little suction so it won’t provide the same comforts or satisfaction. Your child will let you know, and you can explain that their soother is broken. You’ll want to snip all of your soothers of course, so this happens with every one your child tries. Your child will quickly lose interest in his broken soother, and voila… your soother days are over.
Books to help a child give up a soother:
Lastly, here are some board books that your child may enjoy, and that might help prepare your child for giving up the pacifier for good:
Hopefully one of these suggestions will help to make pacifier weaning a brief and stress-free transition for your child.
In the end, just remember to be patient. Remember that whenever and however you decide to take the soother away from your child that it should be at a time and in a way that’s right for your family.
Solutions to more parenting challenges:
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Jackie is a mom, wife, home daycare provider, and the creative spirit behind Happy Hooligans. She specializes in kids’ crafts and activities, easy recipes, and parenting. In 1997, Jackie stepped out of the corporate world to start a family and to open her own home daycare. She began blogging in 2011, and today, Happy Hooligans inspires more than 2 million parents, caregivers and Early Years Professionals all over the globe.