For the first year or two of your baby’s life, the pacifier can be a great source of comfort for both you and your child. It has helped to put many tantrums and cries to a quick end. However, your child cannot go on using their pacifier forever, and there comes a time when you are going to need to warn your baby from it. This can be incredibly challenging, as your baby has probably grown very attached to their pacifier. With that in mind, read on to discover some top tips that should help you wean your child from their pacifier effectively.
Give the pacifier away
One effective approach to getting your child to give up their pacifier is to give it away. Some parents find that using reason with their toddlers is one of the best ways to get them to give something up. You could explain that your child is a big boy or girl now and that they do not need their pacifier. However, there is a little baby out there that does need it. This will help your child to feel like they are grown up now, as well as making them feel like they are doing something good for someone else. Kids, like all of us, like to feel like they are doing something positive. Praise them for doing something so amazing for another child.
Use story time as an opportunity to inspire your child to give up their pacifier
Most children love nothing more than cuddling up with their parents and reading a book before bedtime. Luckily, a number of authors have written children’s books that focus on giving up the pacifier. This is a great way to inspire your child to give their pacifier up, as they will read about characters that have done so and how amazing it made them feel. Some of the books that are available include the likes of…
- No More Pacifiers! – By Melanie O’Brien
- No More Pacifier for Piggy! – By Bernette Ford
- Bea Gives Up Her Pacifier – By Jenny Album
- Baby’s Binky Box – By Jennifer Ormond
Uh oh, the pacifier has gone missing
A lot of parents take this approach; they pretend that their baby’s pacifier is lost. By pretending the pacifier has gone missing, your child has no choice but to carry on without it, until you buy a new one – which you will have no intention of doing, of course. By this stage, your little one will have, hopefully, realised that they don’t need their pacifier anyway.
Offer alternative comforts
It is important to recognise why your child has become attached to his or her pacifier; it is because it provides them with comfort. So, when you take away this comfort, you need to replace it with something else so that your child can self-soothe whenever they are feeling distressed or upset. There are lots of different ways you can help your baby to settle down when they would typically reach for their pacifier. This includes soft singing, a gentle swinging motion, and rocking. You could also give them a soft stuffed animal or a plush blanket that will provide them with comfort instead.
Leave it for the pacifier fairy
When a child loses a tooth, they don’t freak out or worry about it because they know that the tooth fairy is going to pay them a visit. You can use this approach and create a pacifier fairy. Tell your child that the binky fairy comes when they are two-years-old to collect their pacifiers for new babies that do not have any. You can then get your child to leave their pacifiers somewhere and then in the middle of the night you (the pacifier fairy) will replace it with a treat.
Get everyone onboard
You need to make sure that everyone is aware that you are trying to get your baby to give up his or her pacifier. The last thing you want is for all of your hard work to be undone because a caregiver has given your baby a pacifier. You need the experience and message regarding the pacifier to be consistent no matter where your child is, be it at home, at their grandma’s house, or while they are at day-care. If the message is not consistent, your child is only going to end up confused, and this will make the process much more difficult.
Take it away gradually
It is always harder to give something up in one go. This is the case for anything in life. If you have ever given up smoking, you will know exactly what we mean. If you simply say to yourself you are going to stop smoking tomorrow, you are making life so difficult for yourself. However, if you set milestones and gradually give up cigarettes over a period of time, it will be a lot easier. The same sort of theory applies when it comes to weaning your baby from their pacifier. A gentle and slow process can make things a lot easier. The first step should be to restrict your pacifier to certain places or certain times. For example, you may only allow your baby to have their pacifier when they are in their crib or going to bed.
Make sure your child gives up their pacifier before they turn two
While there is no specific age given in terms of when your child should stop using their pacifier, it is vital to make sure they don’t use it past the age of two-years-old. This is because your baby is not going to experience any long-term damage to his or her teeth. Any issues that do develop before the age of two-years-old will usually fix themselves within six months of the pacifier being given up. However, if you do not give up the pacifier until your child has turned two, then problems can start to happen after this, for example, they may experience slanting teeth. The problems only get worse if your child uses their pacifier once they have turned four-years-old, as this can cause dental issues within a long-term impact.
Make it taste bad
This is another approach that a lot of parents us to get their children to stop using their pacifier. It’s just like the technique we try when we try to stop biting our nails; we paint them in something that does not taste very nice to try and stop biting them. Well, you can use this sort of approach when it comes to the pacifier. You should talk to your pharmacist about a product that doesn’t taste great yet is safe to use. They should be able to recommend something you can use. Once you apply this to the pacifier, and your child realises that it tastes horrible, they will be more willing to give it up and leave it for the pacifier fairy.
Take it away sooner rather than later
The longer your child relies on a pacifier, the more difficult it is going to be for them to give it up. This is why it is a good idea to try and wean your child off it as soon as possible. Every day they use the pacifier is a day they are getting more and more attached, leaving you with a much bigger challenge on your hands.
Don’t assume that never giving your child a pacifier is the best approach
Last but not least, a lot of parents assume that the best option is simply to never give their child a pacifier and then they will not become attached to it. While this may seem like a good idea, it is vital to let your child use a pacifier until he or she is at least six-months-old. This is important because pacifiers can help to stop SIDS, otherwise known as Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. It is also advisable to avoid trying to wean your baby from their pacifier during a major life event whereby they are going to need extra soothing, for example, during a household move or when starting a new day care.
Hopefully, you now feel more prepared for weaning your child from their pacifier. There is no denying that this could be a challenge. After all, think about how difficult it would be for you to completely give up something you had been attached to for two years. Nevertheless, if you follow the advice above, and stick to your chosen method, you should find the process a lot easier – and less stressful -than simply removing the pacifier without a plan.