Pacifier weaning is a challenge with some kids. Many children become both emotionally and physically attached to their pacifiers. If your baby or toddler is hooked on the pacifier and you don’t know what to do, the quick tips below can help you with pacifier weaning. For babies, you can be much more direct, but for toddlers, it’s all about communication and coming up with a plan!
Pacifier Weaning 101: Benefits of Pacifiers
Of course, some parents might think that if pacifier weaning is so difficult, why not just avoid them from the start? Before we start talking about taking them away, let’s first start off with the benefits of pacifiers and why you should use them, to begin with.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the use of a pacifier for up to 1 year, reduces the incidence of SIDS. You do not have to reinsert the pacifier if it falls out.
Pacifiers are soothing because they hit the “calming reflex” (Dr. Harvey Karp).
Pacifier Weaning Tips for Babies
The pacifier weaning tips below are targeted specifically to babies 12 months and younger. It’s easier at this age to wean children off of their pacifiers, which is why these tips are different than the ones for toddlers.
A Strong Sleep Routine
Before attempting to wean your baby off of the pacifier, be sure you have a solid sleep routine in place. A healthy sleep schedule is the foundation of the weaning process. If your baby doesn’t have that, he or she will feel the absence of the pacifier far more than babies who sleep regularly and well. Allow 15 to 20 minutes for bedtime and 5 to 10 minutes for naptime.
It will be a tough 3 to 4 nights as your baby gets over the pacifier. Stay strong and prepare yourself for the fact that those few nights are not going to be fun. Remember, this too shall pass! Choose a sleep training method and utilize it for all wakings outside of the designated feed(s), if any!
The Pantley Pull Off
A more gradual approach to pacifier weaning, with this approach you follow your normal sleep routine, putting the baby down in the crib, drowsy but awake, with the pacifier. When sucking slows down, gently remove the pacifier before your baby is completely asleep. Repeat this each night until your baby no longer needs the pacifier to fall asleep.
Babies naturally attach themselves to objects as a way of self-soothing. Incorporate a transition object into your baby’s sleep routine to help shift your baby’s focus from the pacifier to an object like a lovey.
Pacifier Weaning Tips for Toddlers
Transition Object with Communication
For 3-4 weeks prior to pacifier weaning, make sure to introduce a “transition object” that will give your child comfort while sleeping. A lovey is great! Talk this object up a ton leading up to the removal and make sure it is part of the routine.
Children’s Book About Pacifier Weaning
Children’s books are great tools for difficult parenting situations. When we read with our kids about certain situations, our children realize that they aren’t the only ones who have to go through a change like this. “Bea Gives Up her Pacifier” is an excellent book to read with your toddler about the weaning process and show her that there’s nothing to be afraid of.
A Strong Sleep Routine
The pacifier was likely what triggered “it’s time to sleep”. You need to replace that with a VERY solid bedtime routine, 15-20 minutes, and nap routine, 5-10 minutes.
Discuss the process with your toddler a week before beginning the weaning process, tell him or her that the pacifier is “staying with grandma” or “being brought to the park for another baby to have”. Drop it off at your local fire department and then visit the trucks! Have your toddler be part of giving the pacifier up so that he or she understands where it went. When your toddler complains about the pacifiers during sleep time, remind him or her where the pacifiers were brought and redirect attention to the transition object.
You could be in for 4 or more sleepless nights as your toddler makes the transition through the pacifier weaning process. However, in time, your little one will get used to the fact that the pacifier has left the building.
You’ll Make it Through Pacifier Weaning
Pacifier weaning can be a difficult process, but you’ve got this. Be loving, prepare and pluck that paci out and don’t look back!
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