Pacifier Weaning: How & When to Do It


A toddler sucking on a pacifier

It's time to wean your child from their pacifier, and you want them to succeed. However, there are some things to consider before you take the leap.

Your kid's sucking reflex is a genuine need. They started learning this ability as a 14-week-old embryo in your womb.

So do not be shocked if your child needs help getting rid of the habit. Here's your guide to knowing how and when to wean your baby off their pacifier.

Related: Your Guide to Baby Temperaments and Personality Types

When Is It Time to Take Away the Pacifier?

Typically, around 6 or 7 months is ideal. At this age, you can start lowering their pacifier usage from often to never in a few weeks.

Some healthcare organizations suggest stopping or limiting pacifier use around six months old to prevent an increased risk of ear infections, particularly if your kid is prone to them. There is no one rule for every situation. Pacifiers can be handy in easing stress, like starting daycare or traveling to a new place.

After nine months, kids establish a dependence on their pacifier. However, that doesn't mean you should rush them to stop immediately — but be ready for more protests after this age and trouble getting rid of the pacifier.

Are you wondering about the best time for weaning from the pacifier? It's not specific. Parents should speak to their pediatrician about what's suitable for their child if they're unsure.

Or, you can wait until your kid self-weans; between about six months and three years, your child is busy making developmental leaps. Removing their self-soothing approach may be challenging.

How to Wean Babies Off of Their Pacifiers

Until 12 to 15 months, you can try these weaning ideas:

  • Take note of when your baby uses their pacifier. Are they sucking out of necessity, or are they content and sucking just because they can?
  • Try to get rid of the pacifier when your baby does not truly need it. You might want to provide other stimulation like a mobile, rattle, or swinging chair. If teething appears to be an issue, offer a teething ring or cold washcloth.
  • If your baby gets upset and begins to cry, you could try to delay providing their pacifier by distracting them with a toy.
  • It's best to wean from the pacifier carefully when the baby is happy and sidetracked. If you take it away when they're upset and your baby has a strong attachment, keeping it from them might make them weep longer and get more out of sorts.
  • If you take the pacifier away when their desire to suck for convenience is still strong, your baby might switch to something else (like their thumb).

We can't deny it; it will take some work. So hang in there; soon, you'll only offer your baby their pacifier when they're truly distressed.

Then, one day, you'll recognize that your baby utilizes the pacifier only in the evening. And finally, by introducing a comforting bedtime routine plus a preferred toy or blanket, you'll soon find your baby pacifier-weaned.

Related: Does Your Baby Grind Their Teeth? Here's How to Fix It

How to Wean Toddlers Off of Their Pacifiers


A baby with a pacifier on their chest

The Slow Way

Take a deep breath since you'll need strong nerves to run this path.

Discuss to your toddler that in 3 days, you'll be eliminating their pacifier since they're already big enough to handle without one. Then, repeat your message the following day.

On the day of reckoning, eliminate all pacifiers. The best practice is to provide your young child with another convenience toy like a teddy, blanket, whistle, or teether. Some moms and dads like to utilize the story of a pacifier fairy, who takes the pacifiers in your house so other babies can have them, leaving a brand-new lovey in its location.

It will be rough, but the sobbing spells will likely be behind you within a couple of days.

The Fast Way

Your other option is slow and steady. To follow this strategy, you'll need to lay the groundwork well.

  • Talk to them. Speak with your young child about being old enough to throw away their pacifier. Show them they can do it by telling them stories about others who did just that. Let your toddler see you boasting to their teddy that they will soon put down their pacifier.
  • Share tools. Teach your kid that they can manage without their pacifier by gently stretching the time between when they ask for their pacifier and when you hand it over. Offer them other comforts in the meantime. When they effectively go without their pacifier, praise them!
  • Limit pacifier time. Determine when your toddler needs their pacifier and when they can go without it — work towards set times when your toddler gets their pacifier, such as nap time and bedtime.
  • Limit pacifier locations. For example, only allow their pacifier in a specific room. Then, when they want it, tell them it's in that room, and they can have their pacifier or continue playing where they're already at.
  • Reward them. Your kid is venturing out of their routine, and they are worthy of a prize. Some parents make sticker label charts to assist their kids in visualizing the number of days they've made it without a pacifier. Some children react better to other tactics; you know your kid best!

Related: Why Your Baby Snores (And What to Do About It)

Final Tip: Pacifier Weaning Takes Patience

A toddler sticking his tongue out

If you want to wean them off of their pacifier, but you know your baby or toddler is not ready, take a moment and have a little reassurance:

Remember that in traditional cultures, toddlers typically suck at the breast up until four years of age.

Some kids fall in love with soothing things (binky, teddy, thumb, or security blanket); that's why getting rid of the pacifier frequently results in more thumb sucking. (Pacifiers are better than thumbs since sucking on fingers can distort teeth and taste buds, leading to the possible need for braces later.).

Whatever method you use to wean your child off their pacifier, stick with it: every child will leave their pacifier behind with time.

Get the toys and supplies your baby needs to kick their pacifier habit, learn faster, and play harder with 123 Baby Box — The mom-recommended baby box subscription!

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