10 Pacifier Weaning Tips for Babies and Toddlers

So, your baby or toddler is hooked on the pacifier and you don’t know what to do!  Below are some quick tips on how to address the pacifier for babies and toddlers.  For babies you can be much more direct but for toddlers it’s all about communication and coming up with a plan!

Before we take them away, let’s first start off with the benefits of the pacifier:

  1. Reduces SIDS (according to the American Academy of Pediatrics) with use up to 1 year. You do not have to reinsert the pacifier if it falls out.
  2. Pacifiers are soothing because they hit the “calming reflex” (Dr. Harvey Karp).

Tips for taking the pacifier away for babies 12 months and younger:

  1. Strong sleep routine! Have a solid routine prior to paci removal, 15-20 minutes for bedtime, 5-10 minutes for nap time.
  2. Cold turkey! It will be a tough 3-4 nights for your baby to “get over” the paci. Hold steady and prepare yourself that it’s not going to be a fun few nights… but “this too shall pass!”
  3. Or take a more gradual route with “The Pantley Pull Off”. Do your normal routine, put baby down in the crib (drowsy but awake!) with the paci.  When her sucking slows down you can gently remove the pacifier before she is completely asleep.  Repeat this each night until she no longer needs it to sleep.
  4. Incorporate a lovey as a “transition object” to help transfer the attachment.

Tips for taking pacifier away from a toddler:

  1. Come up with a plan! For 3-4 weeks leading up to taking it away, make sure to introduce a “transition object” that will give her comfort while she sleeps. A lovey is great! Talk this object up a ton leading up to the removal and make sure it is part of the routine.
  2. Get a children’s book on giving up the pacifier, such as “Bea Gives Up her Pacifier” and read it to her several times so she understands and is prepared.
  3. Have 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.
  4. Communicate with your toddler a week before the “event” that the paci 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 her be part of giving them up so that she understands where they went. When she complains about the pacifiers during sleep time, remind her where she brought them and direct her to the transition object.
  5. Prepare YOURSELVES!! It very well could be 4+ sleepless nights, but in time she will get use to the fact that the paci has left the building.

You’ve got this, be loving, prepare and pluck that paci out and don’t look back!

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About the Author:

Infant and Child Sleep Consultant, saving your sleep, one family at a time.