For some babies, life without the pacifier is unimaginable. It is their source of comfort and security – your baby’s favorite thing (after you).
The pacifier habit is one that’s hard to quit, but this goes both ways. While babies seek comfort in the pacifier, some parents find it hard to quit the binky because it’s a convenient way to calm a fussy baby.
It looks to be the perfect soother. Unfortunately, you can’t use the pacifier forever.
The Importance of Weaning off the Pacifier
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the use of pacifiers is not harmful to infants. They do not cause medical or psychological problems. However, pacifiers are not meant to be used long-term. Before your baby reaches the age of one, it is best to wean them off the pacifier.
Babies more than 1 year of age no longer need to suck to soothe themselves. By this point, they should have adopted other methods of self-soothing. Also, sucking on a pacifier beyond infancy can affect the shape of the baby’s mouth as well as the alignment of their teeth.
Weaning your baby off the pacifier can be a tough job, but there are many methods that you can try. Here are a few approaches that you can follow in taking the pacifier away.
5 Proven Methods to Say Goodbye to the Pacifier
1. Get rid of the pacifier slowly and gradually.
For many babies, because they have learned to be reliant on their pacifiers, the best approach is to go slow. Wean them slowly and gradually, beginning with moments when they are not so dependent on the pacifier, such as playtime.
During playtime, even though they may have a pacifier inside their mouth, they are not too focused on sucking. You can start taking the pacifier away during these moments that they are distracted.
Gradually reduce the number of times in a day that they are using their pacifier. It may come to a point that you will only allow the pacifier during bedtime. Though this approach takes time, eventually, your baby will learn to live without the binky.
2. Go cold turkey and ditch the binky in one go.
Then again, instead of going gradual, you may opt to go cold turkey and ditch the pacifier all in one go. If you decide to go cold turkey, the advantage is it minimizes the risk of regression (which can happen in the middle of a gradual process).
Going cold turkey is not for the faint of heart. Expect some rough days ahead while you and your family adjust to this big change. However, this will eventually end and your baby will forget about their attachment to their pacifier.
3. Offer a better alternative to the pacifier.
Whether you go gradual or go cold turkey, offering an alternative to the pacifier is always a good idea. An alternative will soften the sting of losing a soother. For example, when taking away your baby’s pacifier, you can offer them a soft cotton blanket instead to give comfort.
Of course, the alternative does not always have to be an object. During this stage, your baby will need all the comfort they can get. And the best kind of comfort comes from you! Be available both physically and emotionally for your baby while they adjust.
4. Do something to make their pacifier unappealing.
If none of the previous method has worked, then instead of taking away the pacifier, you can try making it unappealing. Since your baby sucks on it for comfort, you can make it taste unpleasant. You can, for example, dip it in lemon to give it a sour taste. It turns your baby off the pacifier without harming them in the process.
Aside from the taste, you can also alter the physical appeal of the pacifier. Many moms swear by cutting a small hole in the pacifier. The hole makes it hard for your baby to suck the pacifier, removing its appeal. Be careful with cutting though. Use really sharp scissors to cut the hole straight through with one snip rather than with rough hacks that can leave broken pieces behind.
5. Prepare a ceremony to celebrate their “graduation.”
Finally, make a big deal about taking away the pacifier. In fact, prepare a ceremony about it! If your baby already listens to you and understands you, you can try to reason with them. Explain to them that only little babies need pacifiers, and because they are a big boy/ a big girl now, they don’t need one anymore.
Make a fuss about it – a good fuss! The point is to make your baby feel good and proud about themselves about giving up their pacifier. Ceremony ideas include gathering up all of their pacifiers and keeping them inside a special box. You may also choose to give it away to another baby.
Another way to celebrate their “graduation” from their binky is to come up with a new bedtime tradition. For example, instead of using a pacifier, this time, they get to choose their own bedtime story or help make their own glass of milk. Be generous with praises, too!
The pacifier is, indeed, a huge help to many parents. So many babies have gone to bed and slept well because of the pacifier. It is undeniable that it serves as a great soother and a convenient source of comfort for many babies.
However, your baby’s binky is not meant to be used long-term. After the first year, continuing the use of pacifiers may lead to negative consequences to your baby’s health. It is not easy, but weaning your child off the pacifier habit can be done using many proven methods. We hope we were able to help you with this challenge!