Pacifier Weaning Tips
Pacifier Weaning: Tips on weaning the paci
There are a few transitions young children go through that can seem monumental, life-changing, and scary. Many parents get so nervous about attempting these changes, that they often just put it off and hope it resolves itself somehow…it usually doesn’t, and it needs to be faced at some point. Weaning a pacifier is one of those transitions that parents wouldn’t want to touch with a ten-foot pole. Children who use pacifiers have usually become very attached to them and need them to self soothe and sleep. The fact of the matter is, weaning a pacifier is important for your child’s physical oral development. Keeping a pacifier for too long can actually make changes to the shape of their mouth and teeth. According to the American Dental Association, prolonged sucking can cause problems with baby teeth. Some people may decide to wean the pacifier at a few months old, before the habit becomes a clutch, while others wait until their child is a bit older and can be reasoned with.
How to approach pacifier weaning
For us, I waited a few months after my daughter turned two. I felt she was old enough to understand what was happening, she was old enough to be reasoned with, and she was old enough to respond to incentives. As with any big transitions, talk to them about it beforehand, keep it positive, and be understanding. Because children usually suck on the pacifier to self-soothe, it will only backfire to put stress on them when trying to wean. Here are some tips when it comes time to approach the weaning process:
Tips on Helping your Child Wean the Pacifier:
*Before attempting any of the weaning tips below; it is advisable to limit the time and place your child is allowed to use the pacifier. If your child is able to use all throughout the day, you will want to limit more and more times over the course of several days. If for example you are at the park and they want their pacifier, you would say something like “pacifiers are for car rides and the sleep. If you want your pacifier, then we will need to leave the park now.” Every few days add a new restriction to where they can use the pacifier, until they are only using it for sleep. Once they are at the point of only using it for sleep, the weaning tips will be much easier to approach.
1. Wean the pacifier on its own: do not attempt to wean the pacifier around any other big changes in their life i.e. transitioning from crib to bed, potty training, welcoming a new baby, starting school etc. If there will be a change in the world they know, give it several weeks to make sure they have fully adjusted before attempting a new change.
2. Substitute it: have something else that they can use to sooth them at night, better yet, let them pick it out. Examples can be a lovie, blanket, stuffed animal etc.
3. Make it special: Weaning the pacifier can be a special event in their life, it can symbolize “big kid” status! So, make it special and celebrate the change.
4. Read books and talk about it: find books on weaning pacifier and rent them from the library. When you see it in everyday life, bring it up. For example, if you see a baby sucking on the pacifier, you can bring up how the baby is still using a pacifier because they are just little, not like you. How they are not a big kid like them and soon when they are, they will get ready to give their pacifier away, too!
5. Have them break the habit: Make it gradual: This works for some children and not for others. There is a gradual pacifier weaning system you can buy, where the pacifier nipple gets smaller and smaller until there is nothing really to suck.
6. Have them break the habit: Poke a hole in it: If you simply poke a hole in the tip of the nipple, the suction of nipple is lessened, not giving them enough satisfaction of sucking. You can poke bigger and bigger holes over a few days, but most children will probably give it up after a day because once there is a hole, the suction is completely gone.
7. Turn it into something: A fun project they can do once it is time to get rid of the pacifier is turning it into something else. You can have them “plant it” and swap it out for a plant the next day, to have a visual that they turned their pacifier into a beautiful plant.
8. Trade it in: You can have them trade it in for a special toy of their choice at the store
9. Trade it in: You can make a dental appointment and have them turn it into the dentist as a normal part of that visit.
10. Do not turn back: Stay consistent and do not go back to giving them a pacifier once you have decided to wean them.
There are many options and ideas to help your little one to break their pacifier habit. Be creative and think about which approach your child will respond best to. Whichever approach you take, just remember to stick with it. There is nothing more confusing than starting a transition and not being consistent with it. Prepare your child by talking about it, reading books, and making it special. Remember, this is a transition for you as well, so prepare yourself in advance. Transitions can be tricky and take time. Try to be sensitive to the time your little one needs to adjust to something new and stay positive.