It may be a point of contention in your home, but there will come a time when you will need to learn how to get rid of the pacifier. Most parents will have a healthy fear of this moment as young children can become quite attached to it. Thankfully there are plenty of ideas and products created by parents that have come before and paved the way to help us learn exactly how to get rid of the pacifier in the least traumatic way possible for everyone involved.
9 Pros and Cons of Using a Pacifier
Like most things in parenting—and life!—there are both positives and negatives to letting your child use (or continue to use) a pacifier. So before you make the decision to learn how to get rid of the pacifier, make sure it’s the right time to do so. Here are some positives and negatives to taking or using the pacifier.
Pros of Using a Pacifier
Of course, any decision to use or not use a pacifier is up to you with the guidance and advice of your pediatrician. One major reason many pediatricians will recommend for parents to start using a pacifier is that evidence shows it will reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends for parents to offer a pacifier to children at naps and bedtime to reduce the risk of SIDS, with the caveat of waiting until baby has a hang of breastfeeding at around 3-4 weeks old.
Another pro-pacifier argument is that if a child does not suck on a pacifier they are likely to suck on their thumb. Obviously, a pacifier is something you can take away but breaking a habit of thumb-sucking is much more difficult.
Additionally, a pacifier can be a welcome distraction for a young baby in stressful situations. This includes shots, blood tests, long flights or anywhere else a child is fussy. Plus, a pacifier can help satisfy the sucking reflex and give you a bit longer of a break between breastfeeding sessions.
Cons of Using a Pacifier
Of course, there are also several cons to using a pacifier. As a baby becomes older, he or she will become dependant on the pacifier for sleep and will have a difficult time falling asleep otherwise. It can also be tempting for a parent to offer a pacifier to their child at the first sign of an inconvenience, without addressing the root cause of the need.
Another important factor to consider is that the use of a pacifier has been linked to an uptick in ear infections. If your child is getting them continually, learn how to get rid of the pacifier and see if that makes a difference.
It’s important to note that babies who are introduced to a pacifier too young (before 3 weeks) can have nipple confusion. There is only a small chance of this occurring, but it is worth noting as it’s notoriously difficult to correct.
Lastly, if a toddler at and after the age of two is still using a pacifier for a prolonged time, it can lead to teeth problems that will be costly and difficult to correct.
When to Take the Pacifier Away
Knowing when to take a pacifier away is a major part of knowing how to get rid of the pacifier. There are some lucky parents who have a child that decides to self-wean from the pacifier at an early age. For everyone else, however, timing is crucial. Here are a few signs that it’s time to let the paci go:
Many parents find that around six months old is an ideal time to begin limiting the use of a pacifier. This is about the time when a child is rolling over to sleep on his or her stomach and often drop the pacifier on their own.
Some studies have shown that a child does not create an emotional attachment to a pacifier until around nine months of age. So, ideally, it would be best to stop pacifier use before then. However, if you have an older child still using a pacifier—don’t panic! There are plenty of ideas and tips below for you to utilize.
4 Pacifier Alternatives for Toddlers
If you have a toddler who needs help learning how to get rid of the pacifier, these ideas can help get them (and you!) through the process. Just make sure to have patience with your child and yourself over the weeks.
One way to help your child is to introduce a baby doll like this one. Talk to your child about how pacifiers are for younger babies and how it would help the doll to use the pacifier instead of them. This has the added bonus of teaching your child about both empathy and sharing in one go.
Nightlights are another excellent tool that can help toddlers self-soothe at night if they are using a paci as comfort in the dark. Even at a young age, toddlers can have an active imagination and not understand how to process certain noises or dreams, so having a dim visual can be helpful.
How to Get Rid of the Pacifier
In addition to the tools above, there are several methods and ways you can utilize as you navigate how to get rid of the pacifier. Here are a few methods to consider:
1) Cold Turkey. Sometimes the best way to change a habit is to go at it cold turkey. Set a date of when you will get rid of the pacifier and spend the days leading up to it talking to your child about the transition. Explain why they do not need it any longer, what will happen to the pacifiers and what they can use instead. Make a game of it and count down the days together, then let your child help you store away the pacifiers on the last day. It will still be a tough transition, but this may help soften the blow a bit.
2) Utilize the Pacifier Fairy. Okay, it’s a white lie, but just like the tooth fairy, you can make up a fun story about the binky fairy or paci princess. The pacifier may be needed by the fairy for brand new babies being born or maybe she is building a whole palace out of them to rival the tooth fairy’s. Either way, trade the paci for a toy and use a bit of bribery to your advantage.
3) Read About It. There are some great books you can read together to help your child prepare and understand getting rid of a pacifier more. Try Bye Bye Binky or Bea Gives Up Her Pacifier to start. And yes, there is even a book about the pacifier fairy if you decide to go that route. ;)
Remember, your child really, truly will move on from his or her pacifier one day. If you ever feel stressed or like you don’t know how to get rid of the pacifier, just stop and think about how many teenagers you see using them. It may be a process, but eventually, the paci will not be a big deal—promise!
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