Oh the pacifier. It can be a great tool to help soothe your baby. But is can be a ridiculous battle when it comes time to wean your toddler from a pacifier.
If you are starting to think it’s time to wean your toddler from a pacifier, or your doctor has suggested you do. Here are some tips to help make the battle come to an end!
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How to Wean Your Toddler From a Pacifier with Less Tears
Babies have an innate sucking reflex. This is because that is how they first eat. They need to be born with this reflex for survival. And therefore, sucking is comforting to them.
A pacifier is a way to provide a baby comfort. A breastfed baby may opt to nurse for comfort, same idea.
Many babies may also find comfort from a pacifier when teething. My baby was just about disinterested in using a pacifier, until she start teething. And the rest is history after that.
But when do you need to wean your child off of the pacifier?
There is no hard and fast rule for when your child needs to stop using a pacifier. But there are general guidelines to keep in mind.
- No pacifiers beyond 4 years of age.
- And ideally, get rid of pacifier before 2 years of age.
- Some recommend stopping the pacifier around 12 months of age due to developing speech patterns. And regular use of a pacifier can interfere with this.
- Dental problems can also occur with frequent use of pacifiers and/or poor hygiene of pacifier.
Tips to Wean Your Toddler From a Pacifier
Introduce an Alternative Comfort Object
This tip is only for the child older than 12 months of age. The risk of SIDS before this time, increases substantially if there are loose objects in the crib (blankets, stuffed toys, etc.).
Before weaning from the pacifier, offer your child a small blanket or stuffed toy. Some call these, “lovies”.
Teach your child about their new object. For example, if it is a blanket you introduce, show them how to lay with it. They really have no idea what to do with a blanket if they never had one before!
It helps to show them how nice this object is to hold or snuggle. So they will be engaged and feel comfortable with it.
Developing an attachment to this new object will take time. So, don’t just give the new “lovie” the same day you take away the pacifier.
Let your child grow to love the new thing as they love their pacifier.
Soft and snuggly blankets or stuffed toys work well. Ensure no loose strings, buttons, or other potential hazards!
Here are some great options for your child’s new lovie:
Do Not Wean During a Time of Significant Change
Moving to a new home? Starting at a new day care? Changing the amount of naps? Maybe a new sibling arrival or pet. If there is any significant change occurring, that is not the time to wean from a pacifier.
Your little one will feel the change, and they will need the comfort of what they know. So for the time being, ride it out, and wait for the significant change to subside before weaning off of a pacifier.
Do Not Wean During Illness
This goes in line with the above tip. When your child is sick, they have added stress on their body as they are fighting off whatever illness they have.
This is not the time to add additional stress by taking away the pacifier. Wait until they are healthy before trying to wean your toddler from a pacifier.
Only Make One Change at a Time
If your little one is still using a pacifier and a bottle, chances are you want to get them to stop both…eventually, right?
Well, don’t just take both away at the same time. Your little one will reject that idea faster than you can blink.
Making more than one significant change at a time can be very stressful and unsettling to your child. This is setting you both up for failure.
So, decide on what you are going to change first. Once they have conquered that task, move on to the next change. Their minds and emotions are developing. So go easy on them!
Start By Weaning at Nap Time
There is better success when you start the weaning process at nap time. Now, this is assuming your child only uses a pacifier to sleep.
If your child also uses the pacifier in their day to day routine, then you need to first stop that habit. Give your child other things to keep them busy with and distracted. Then move on to nap time.
Related: 5 Indoor Toddler Activities
Start to wean your toddler from a pacifier on a day when you can ensure your child will get their regularly scheduled nap time without interruptions. Again, you are throwing a big curve ball at them. So to lessen the stress, go about your usual daily routine minus the pacifier.
Chances are your child is going to show you their disagreement with this immediately. But try to give them some time to work through it.
If they become extremely upset, try to offer them reassurance.
The first day I took the pacifier away at nap time, it took my little one 30 minutes to fall asleep. But the second day, it took 27 minutes. Three minutes less than the first day is small progress, but a victory in my book!
Once your child has conquered napping without a pacifier, you can then move on to going to bed at night without it.
Consistency is key when trying to implement any changes with your kids. Especially when weaning from a pacifier. It will confuse them if you take it away one nap, but then give it to them the next.
Once you decide on a plan to wean from the pacifier, stick with it. Your little one will rely on your consistency to get through this transition.
Be Patient and Understanding
Our little humans are growing a mile a minute. They are learning their environments, speech and emotions. Imagine how stressful this may be to them.
It is so important that you remain calm during this transition, and not to get frustrated at them. You may feel frustrated on the inside, but you need to take a deep breath and understand that they aren’t trying to be difficult. They just don’t understand why they can’t have the pacifier anymore.
You will wean your toddler from a pacifier, but it won’t happen overnight.
The transition to life without a pacifier will be a rocky road. There will probably be tears. Don’t expect to get your child to forget about their pacifier in one day.
Stay consistent with your plan when you start to wean your toddler from a pacifier. It may help to let them pick out a new stuffed toy/blanket/lovie. And be sure to offer them as much support and encouragement as they need during this transition.
You will both get through it. Stay strong, mama!