Pacifier weaning isn’t something we necessary look forward to as parents.
After all pacifiers serve as a soothing, scream-fest remedy to most of out 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.
So, why wean your toddler off the pacifier?
Although so experts suggest waiting until your child weans themselves, some 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 preschools don’t allow your child to keep a pacifier
Therefore, experts recommend discontinuing pacifier use before the age of 2.
This will ensures that if any teeth alignment problem should arise, it can still be corrected within a six months period after pacifier weaning.
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.
7 Creative Pacifier Weaning Ideas for Toddlers
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Nothings 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
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. Then, you attach the pacifier(s) to the balloon 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.
On either instance the visualization of the pacifier flying into the air helps them understand that it has gone away permanently.
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 or this cute toothbrush holder (this is fun and convenient)
- A small stuffed animal
Then, have her assist you at 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 on the mail and the pacifier will be a thing of the past.
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 it with her to the top of our mango tree.
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.
In 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
On either instance I guarantee you the binky will be gone for good.
A lot of 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 you child sucks on the pacifier, the suction will be lost a result of new opening and the soothing and comfort will be lost.
She will eventually let you know that something is wrong with their binky, and you will explain to her that it is broken, and it must be thrown away.
Don’t forget to open a hole to 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.
Sometimes negotiating with your children, it is the best parenting tactic.
Offer to give them gifts for every pacifier they turn over. Or, if you 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 feet tall teddy bear.
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 site, out of mind. And after a few days of binky detox that can prove to be just what the doctor ordered.
Additional Pacifier Weaning Tips and Considerations
DITCH THE DUMMY
Ditch the Dummy Pacifier Weaning System was created to give parents the ease of allowing kids to wean themselves off.
It consists of a pacifier with a hole created at time of manufacture.
Unlike the “Pacifier Hole” method where your child assumes is “broken”, “Ditch the Dummy’s” purpose is not for your child to realize that their pacifiers broken or damaged.
Instead, in a matter of days, your child will not want to use it as much because it isn’t s satisfying or enjoyable (source).
Plus, you won’t look like the bad guy in the process. Win-Win.
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 paci throughout the day. Then, gradually, just narrow it down to nighttime use.
NIGHTTIME PACIFIER WEANING
- 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.
- At nighttime, read them books or use 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 sooth and distract your child.
SET THEM UP FOR SUCCESS
- If opting for a pacifier weaning activity let them know ahead of time so that they can be expectant and excited.
- Read them pacifier weaning books. Books help children connect with the book characters by relating to their own challenges. Here are 3 great options:
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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