Wondering how and when to stop pacifier use? Well mama you are in the right place.
Today you will learn all about the pacifier weaning process. We will be covering:
- Why wean your child off the pacifier?
- When to stop the pacifier use?
- How to get rid of the pacifier (7 fun and creative ways!)
- Pacifier weaning tips
- Pacifier Weaning Systems and Additional Resources
Pacifier weaning our toddlers isn’t something we necessarily look forward to as parents. After all, pacifiers serve as a soothing, tantrum-calming, scream-fest remedy for most of our little ones.
However, the pacifier comfort must come to an end and we must figure out a way to do so without scaring them forever.
Okay, just kidding!
They will be totally fine, and chances are they might not even remember it later. But, why not do it creatively and make it a positive experience (7 great pacifier weaning ideas, soon)?
Why wean Off the pacifier?
Although some experts suggest waiting until your child weans themselves, others recommend you do so after their first year.
Despite the initial benefits of the pacifier including soothing, nurturing, decreasing thumb-sucking habits, and reducing the risk of SIDS by 90% in infants, it also has its downfalls as the baby grows.
Some of the disadvantages of prolonged pacifier use include (source):
- Higher incidence of middle ear infections (otitis media)
- Problems with the proper growth of the mouth, alignment of the teeth, and changes in the shape of the roof of the mouth
- A lot of preschools and daycares don’t allow pacifier use
When to Stop Pacifier?
As a rule of thumb, children are emotionally ready to wean off the pacifier by 2-4 years of age.
However, as parents, we should aid the process by taking into consideration the following recommendations.
In essence, experts recommend discontinuing pacifier use before the age of 2.
Specifically, the American Academy of Family Physicians recommends weaning the pacifier between ages 6 months to 2 years, as this will help reduce the risk of otitis media (ear infections). They explain that pacifier weaning after 2 years or older could lead to misalignment of teeth (open bite, crossbite, or overjet).
So, now that we know is time to put our old trusted friend to rest… why not do it in style?
The pacifier weaning ideas below work best for toddlers and older children as they require them to participate in their own weaning.
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7 Pacifier Weaning Ideas
Nothing gets a child more excited than the anticipation of a surprise when they wake up in the morning.
The concept of the pacifier fairy is the same as the tooth fairy. For every binky they place under the pillow, the pacifier fairy will bring them a reward.
If you are weaning an older child, get ready to pay up mama.
However, if you are weaning a toddler here are a few ideas to help out the pacifier fairy:
- A Huggybuddy Stuffed Animal Blanket for a younger child or a Soft Snuggle Bunny for an older child. This is a great alternative because it will provide them with a new comfort and nurturing item. He will then associate that as a replacement item and will be less likely to mention the pacifier. Offer his new item in place of when he would have used his pacifier to start developing a new routine (e.g. nap-time, bedtime, car rides).
- A special toy.
Up Up and Away!
This is a great way to get rid of the pacifier once and for all.
The pacifier balloon method works best with older children who will be more willing to cooperate with this activity.
But, even younger children will find it to be a lot of fun.
In essence, all you do is get a few helium-filled balloons and attach the pacifier(s) to the balloon’s strings.
Young children love releasing balloons into the air, and this will not be any different.
You can also create a story to go along with the release of the pacifiers into the air, or you can just let it be.
In either instance, the visualization of the pacifier flying into the sky helps them understand that it has gone away permanently.
Paci Mail Surprise!
I first came across this idea while watching one of my all-time favorite shows, The Supernanny with Jo Frost.
Have your child collect all of her binkies and put them on a mailing envelope.
Tell her that there is a place where you can mail pacifiers in exchange for a surprise reward.
You can choose what the reward could be, but make sure they fit in the mailbox since that’s where they will arrive:
Here are a few great ideas:
- New toothbrushes
- A small stuffed animal
Then, have her assist you with putting a stamp on the envelope, decorate the envelope, and put it in the mailbox.
The next day, she will wake up anxiously waiting for her sweet reward in the mail and the pacifier will be a thing of the past.
Or, If you would like to go bigger on your toddler’s reward then you can opt for one of these amazing gifts for toddlers.
The Binky Thief
This method worked wonders with my son.
A few days after he turned two, we told him that the squirrel that lives in the backyard grabbed the pacifiers and took them with her to the top of our mango tree.
Yes! We lied.
His green eyes opened wide, and in one big gasp all he said was “Squirrel took tete!!!” He was so astounded by what had happened that he never asked for it again.
On occasions, for a few weeks following the “tete” robbery, he would point at the window and he would say, “Mommy, Squirrel took tete”.
Although I can’t guarantee your child won’t go into a crying frenzy after learning his precious possession was stolen, at least he will know that is not coming back.
Every time he asks about the pacifier, remind him of the incident with your most dramatic storytelling voice. He will either think you are crazy or… Be completely amused!
In either instance, I guarantee you the binky will be gone for good.
Related Article: 23 Best Gifts for Toddlers (All Developmental Stage)
Many moms in the pacifier-weaning community swear by this method.
All you have to do is open a small hole at the tip of the pacifier.
As your child sucks on the pacifier, the suction will be lost through the new opening and the soothing and comfort they once felt will wear off..
She will eventually let you know that something is wrong with her binky, and you will explain to her that it is broken, and it must be thrown away.
Note: Cutting a hole in the pacifier alters the integrity of the pacifier itself, posing a potential choking hazard. There is a safer way to use this weaning method using a pacifier weaning system mentioned in the “Resources” section below.
If you are opting for this method, don’t forget to open a hole in the entire pacifier stash. Kids are very resourceful!
My daughter used to hide them in places I wouldn’t even think about checking.
So, ensure you have found all of them.
Name your Price
Sometimes negotiating with your children is the best parenting tactic.
Offer to give them gifts for every pacifier they turn over. Or, if your child has a big pacifier stash like my daughter did, then offer one gift in exchange for all pacifiers.
A good way to do this is to promise them a trip to the store where they will be able to pick a gift.
Don’t forget to set the rules of the game ahead of time so that they know what toys are off-limits and what toys are fair game.
That’s unless you are willing to walk out of Target with a bicycle and the 6-foot-tall teddy bear. Don’t ask me why I know that, haha!
This is an unconventional pacifier weaning method that happens as a result of a common cold.
Often times when children aren’t feeling so well (nasal congestion, cough, fever) they tend to opt out of the pacifier as breathing becomes more challenging by having it on.
This is the perfect time to use that to your advantage and disappear all binkies.
Out of sight, out of mind. And after a few days of binky detox that can prove to be just what the doctor ordered.
Pacifier Weaning Tips
Set Time Limits
By setting time intervals and time limits you start creating a more natural weaning process.
You can start by gradually reducing the amount of times they use the pacifier throughout the day. Then, gradually, just narrow it down to nighttime use.
You can also establish a couple of “pacifier-free” times during the day. Little by little you can start increasing the amount of time your toddler is “binky-free” until eventually it is no longer wanted or remembered.
Set them up for Success
Getting rid of the pacifier can be a challenging experience for our little ones. It is important to set them up for success every step of the way and avoid common mistakes when weaning off the pacifier.
Here are some things to remember:
- If opting for a pacifier-weaning activity let them know ahead of time so that they can be expectant and excited.
- Don’t tell them you will give their pacifier to another child. That might create a sense of frustration and resentment.
- Give them praise when accomplishing a new paci-weaning milestone.
- Be consistent! Get everyone on board the “getting rid of the pacifier” train. At home, at grandma’s, the babysitter, daycare, older siblings, etc.
Night-time Pacifier Weaning Tips
- Remove the pacifier from your child’s mouth after he falls asleep. Waking up without seeing the pacifier first thing in the morning is a great start to a successful weaning routine.
- At night time, read them books or use an audible storyteller to distract them from not having their pacifier (My Fabulous Storyteller is a great option, it comes with 48 Stories inside the Storyteller + 6 free “Sweet Dreams” stories with the Luniistore)
- Using white noise or a music box also helps to soothe and distract your child.
Resources for getting rid of the binky
Pacifier Weaning System
Pacifier weaning systems were created to give parents the ease of allowing kids to wean themselves off. It consists of a pacifier with a hole created at the time of manufacture. As they suck on their pacifier, the hole causes it to lose suction, hence making it less enjoyable.
In turn, they don’t find it as soothing, they eventually lose interest, AND you won’t look like the bad guy in the process. Win-Win.
The Frida Baby 5-step paci weaning system consists of gradually reducing the sucking satisfaction to wean from the pacifier.
It includes 5 BPA-free, orthodontic-shaped pacifiers that get shorter with each step. It was invented by a pediatric dentist and although it works for all young kids, it works best for kids between the ages of 6-18 months of age.
Pacifier Weaning Books for Toddlers
Read them pacifier-weaning books. Books help children connect with the book characters by relating to their own challenges. Here are 3 great options:
Note: If you are looking to buy multiple books for a fraction of the cost, check out KidsBooks.com for great savings!
- A Realistic 3-Year-Old-Schedule
- Where to Buy Super Cheap Kids Books!
- Best Organic & Non-Toxic Mattresses for Kids of All Ages
- 10 Fantastic Shoes for Toddlers with Wide Feet
- 10 Best Non-Toxic Bath Toys for Babies and Toddlers
I want to address that no pacifier weaning method is 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Although your child might respond really well to letting go of their trusted friend, you might still also be subjected to an occasional tantrum or hunger strike from your toddler.
It might be a bit rough for a day or two, but then you will be pacifier-free for good.
The key is to be assertive and consistent. Stick to a game plan, and they will follow your lead.
Be confident and don’t panic… they can smell fear!
Okay, but seriously. Be confident and push through. Before you know it, the binky will be a thing of the past.
So, what worked for you when pacifier-weaning your little one?
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