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…
HOW TO MAKE PACIFIER WEANING AS STRESS-FREE AS POSSIBLE:
(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 pacifiers in the corner of their crib. Teach your child to put the pacifiers in it when 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.
- Expect that the first few days might be difficult. Don’t give in! Within 3 days, the habit will be likely be broken.
- Rub his back or his tummy when your child gets fussy while sleeping. Often he’ll stop crying without actually waking up.
- If your child is old enough to have blankets and stuffies in their crib, provide a snuggly, lightweight blanket or stuffed animal she can comfort herself with. 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 them sleep soundly.
- Tell them that the cat/dog took it.
- A very popular trend is to have the pacifier sewn into a stuffed animal.
- Consider waiting until they are old enough to give up naptime, as it’s generally associated with “soother time”.
- Try Essential oils. Use a drop or two Young Living Valor on their socks or on a stuffed animal or blanket that they sleep with.
- Buy a very special toy they can have during nap time – a new princess toy or superhero toy that is great for snuggling.
- Give them a cup of warm milk before bedtime.
- Put a nightlight in their room, and allow them to have a special pillow instead.
- 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 number one way to get a child to give up the pacifier:
I received this tip dozens of times, as parents everywhere have had success with this simple trick. Even my own daycare families have done this, and it’s worked:
To get your child to give up the pacifier, snip a small hole in the tip of the nipple. When your child sucks on it, it’s not going to provide the same suction or satisfaction. When the soother doesn’t provide comfort or satisfaction, the child loses interest in it.
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.
Kristina from Toddler Approved has also has a post full of tips for why, when and how to help your child give up the soother. Pop over, and check it out!
In the end, just remember to be patient. Remember that whatever you decide to do is YOUR decision and you need to do what works best for your family.