Any parent will tell you that they have struggled with getting their child to sleep at some point in their lives. Whether it is a newborn with colic, a toddler wanting to skip naps, or older kids who want to stay up past curfew, parents will eventually deal with sleep issues.
One time a parent might have to deal with sleep issues is when it comes to the beloved pacifier. In the beginning the pacifier is a great tool to help your baby sleep. However, as they get older the pacifier can sometimes turn into more of an annoyance because suddenly your child cannot sleep unless the paci is with them. Parents have been known to frantically drive to the store to buy more pacifiers, to supply dozens of binkies in baby’s bed just in case baby can’t find one in the middle of the night, or wake up 5 times in the night because their child is crying for the pacifier.
Eventually you will need to help your child wean from the pacifier.
Now, some parents get lucky and do not have to face this ordeal as they have kids who essentially wean themselves of a pacifier, other parents do not have to face this because their babies never took a pacifier in the first place. However, for those of us who have paci loving kids it can be hard to get your child off this habit.
I believe that every child is different and therefore not every child will respond well to the same pacifier weaning method. Therefore, I am going to offer up a few different ways you can try to remove the pacifier from your child’s sleeping routine.
5 Ways to Wean From the Pacifier
Like many addictions, sometimes it’s best to just go cold turkey and get rid of the pacifier instantly. Once you do this though, you will need to be prepared to commit to it 100%. This can work for some children but I would say it’s not for most. Only the child who adapts quickly will be able to handle this method of transition easily.
The Gradual Wean
This is a bit like going cold turkey in that you aren’t really offering anything else but it’s not sudden instead it’s a gradual process. For instance, my children (the ones who took pacifiers anyway) may use their pacifiers as much as they wish until they turn 1 years old. At 1 year old, we then use the pacifier only for naps and bedtime. Around 15 months, the pacifier is only used for bedtime but not naps. Lastly, around 18 months the paci leaves for good. This method has worked extremely well for my kids and they didn’t find it hard to give up the pacifier this way.
The Old Switcheroo
A pacifier is a way for your child to help sooth themselves. If you are all right with the idea, try switching the pacifier for another item such as a security blanket or stuffed animal. Often times this is when most parents will begin to allow their child to sleep with an animal or blanket in bed (as it’s not recommended when babies are young.)
The Broken Binky
The idea behind this method is that you cut the tip off of your child’s pacifier when they aren’t looking. Sooner or later your child is bound to realize that their pacifier isn’t working like it should and in theory, your child will soon give it up as it’s not enjoyable any longer. I’m still not sure how I feel about this method as something in me tells me that it’s probably not all that safe but then I also can’t see how it would be really harmful either. I leave the decision up to you.
Involve your child in the pacifier-weaning rite. This method has many varieties such as prepping your child and telling them that they will be too old for a pacifier when they reach a certain date and they will have to throw the pacifier away, having your child trade in the paci for a toy at the toy store, pacifier fairies (much like the tooth fairy), or mailing the pacifier to a baby who doesn’t have one (all pretend on your part of course).
No matter how you choose to wean your child from a pacifier, it is likely to be difficult. Just know that the worst of it only lasts for a day or two and giving your child extra attention, distractions, etc will help things go more smoothly. I know it might feel like your child will continue sleeping better with a pacifier but eventually things turn around and it becomes a crutch, which suddenly makes your child unable to sleep if everything isn’t perfect. Sometimes you have to make the tough decision to remove the pacifier and have a few hard nights for the sake of having a child who can sleep easily without a pacifier.