How and When To Help Your Baby or Toddler Stop the Pacifier

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Hey, parents — do you have a pacifier-, dummy-, binky-, or soother-addict living in your home? If so, this article is for you. We’re talking today about when to ditch the pacifier, and how to do it.

Pacifiers Are Not Evil

I think it’s important to begin our article today with this reminder: pacifiers aren’t evil. They’re not dangerous. (In fact, they may even reduce the risk of SIDS.) However, it is important to avoid introducing them until the breastfeeding relationship is established, if you are breastfeeding (or planning to).

They get a bad rap sometimes, but really, pacifiers can be a helpful tool in the effort to help our babies sleep well. Pacifiers can be a tool to help babies self-soothe without parental aid, and can decrease nighttime waking (that is, unless your baby’s constantly calling for you to come and replace the pacifier after it’s fallen out!)

So let’s remember that like many things associated with baby and toddler sleep, pacifiers aren’t a problem until they’re a problem. If the pacifier fits neatly into your baby’s or toddler’s life (and neatly into yours) then don’t feel pressured to get rid of it.

But what if it doesn’t? What if your baby is waking you 10 times each night to replace the pacifier after it’s fallen out of her mouth? What if you’re sick and tired of toting pacifiers everywhere you go, just so your toddler won’t have to be without one? If that’s the case, it might be time to ditch the pacifier for good.

The Ideal Age to Ditch the Pacifier

Speaking of getting rid of the pacifier — when should it happen? That’s a big question for parents whose little ones are hooked on the binky.

Unfortunately, there’s no magic age. Some parents wean their babies off the pacifier as early as 5 or 6 months; others let their toddlers hang onto their pacifiers until age 3 or 4. Truly, there’s no right or wrong, black or white when it comes to pacifier usage. It’s kind of like baby sleep in that way — babies and toddlers learn to sleep in different ways, and at different ages.

But let’s look at a general truth when it comes to weaning babies and toddlers off the pacifier: the earlier you do it, the easier it’s going to be. The same is true for sleep training, and for potty training, and for so many things associated with raising children.

For this reason, pediatricians usually recommend weaning your little one from the pacifier before age one. The idea is that before 12 months, your child hasn’t had the time (or the cognitive ability) to form a deep attachment to a pacifier, so taking it away may not be as difficult.

Not the case if you try to wean a toddler off his pacifier, however. Starting around 18 months, a toddler has likely formed strong feelings of attachment to his pacifier. Try to take it away then, and it’ll probably be much harder than if you’d done it earlier. Not impossible, of course, but filled with more tears and anger on the part of your toddler (and maybe on your part, too!) Beyond a few years old and you add the risk of causing dental problems, too.

Nicole’s Note:
“The best time to wean your baby from the pacifier (or start sleep training or potty training) would be after a child is developmentally ready, but before they have become strong-willed and emotionally attached to the status quo. Just like we recommend sleep training after 4 to 6 months old, we would not really potty train a 15 month old (though elimination communication is becoming a more popular parenting concept). Once a baby has formed an attachment to their pacifier or soother, it becomes more like a lovey and who would wean a 2 year old away from her favorite teddy bear or blanket? But, if your baby is waking up frequently at night and can’t put it in himself, that is more of a problem than a solution.

Neither of my boys had a pacifier (one not by choice and one I made a conscious effort to avoid it). We probably paid for it in the early days, but it was much easier later.”

How To Ditch the Pacifier

Just like there’s no “right age” to ditch the pacifier; there’s no “right way” to do it, either. There are a few things to keep in mind, though, as you create your plan for pacifier weaning:

  • If you’re weaning a baby who’s under 12 months, you probably don’t need to be creative. You can probably get by with simply throwing the pacifiers out and then preparing for a few rough, sleepless nights and some short, restless naps.
  • If you’re weaning a toddler, you might want to be creative. You can just get rid of the pacifiers when your toddler’s not looking, of course, and end things cold-turkey. But you could also be creative, and get your toddler to help with the weaning process. I knew a mom who told her 3 year old son that they needed to send his pacifiers to children who didn’t have any — he helped her pack them into a box and everything! It turned out to be a great solution for that family.

Nicole’s Note:
“Just like most of our Sleep Plans, we often break things up into smaller steps. I have some families stop the pacifier at night, but not during the day. Or, they use the pacifier for sleep and not throughout the day. Sometimes it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, depending on the child. Sometimes we just start slow and then build up to getting rid of it completely. Just like sleep training, what works for you may not be what worked for your friend or neighbor. Some do best with ripping off the band-aid and some do better with slow and methodical.”

Tips for Ditching the Pacifier

Whatever strategies you use to wean your baby or toddler off the pacifier, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Plan ahead. Weaning a baby off the pacifier is a fairly small event, but weaning a toddler is big. Very, very big, for some toddlers. So plan ahead, and make sure the pacifier weaning doesn’t coincide with another big event, like a move, or the birth of a new sibling, or potty-training. It’s best to tackle big events one at a time, to help minimize your child’s stress.
  • Be patient. There’s bound to be some fussing and sleeplessness when you finally banish the pacifiers. That’s just how it goes. So prepare yourself to be patient, and to ride out the storm.
  • Be firm. If pacifier weaning just isn’t working, you may feel like stopping and trying again later. And that may work — we’re not saying it won’t! But that might not be the best approach, especially if you’re weaning a toddler. Why? Because parents, your toddlers are smart. And if they get even the slightest inkling that their actions (crying, screaming, tantrum-throwing, etc.) can make you change course, guess what’s going to happen? The crying, screaming, and tantrum-throwing will only get worse. Better to be firm and consistent now — not only will the pacifier weaning happen faster, but you’ll teach your toddler the valuable lesson that mom and dad mean what they say.
  • Keep perspective. For some parents, pacifier weaning belongs in the “Things That Feel Like They Might Literally Kill Me” category. It’s that painful and brutal. But take heart, parents! It’ll pass. We promise. And just think — once you’ve cleared this hurdle, there’ll only be 15 or 16 more years worth of hurdles ahead! ;)

Let’s help each other out — offer your pacifier-weaning tips and insights below!

Please be sure to pick up your FREE copy of 5 (tear-free) Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, our e-Book with tear-free tips to help your baby sleep better. For those persistent nighttime struggles, check out The 3-Step System to Help Your Baby Sleep (babies) or The 5-Step System to Better Toddler Sleep (toddlers). Using a unique approach and practical tools for success, our e-books help you and your baby sleep through the night and nap better. For those looking for a more customized solution for your unique situation with support along the way, please consider one-on-one baby and toddler sleep consultations, where you will receive a Personalized Sleep Plan™ you can feel good about! Sometimes it’s not that you can’t make a plan. Sometimes you’re just too tired to.

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48 Responses to How and When To Help Your Baby or Toddler Stop the Pacifier

  1. priyankka says:

    hi. I never got a pacifier for my baby to avoid the hurdles of weaning him away from it. But i realise children have their own ways. He started using his 2 fingers to self soothe. Now i am in a fix wondering how to stop this. He is 7 months old. Ideas and suggestions are welcome…thanks.

  2. Jane B. says:

    Same as the above poster, my daughter (2 1/2) still uses her first two fingers to suck on. It was wonderful when she was little and it’s still helpful now, but I’m wondering how she will ever stop. I sucked my thumb for a long time, but my parents don’t really recall when/how I stopped.

    We now have a 3 month old and I give him a pacifier, although keeping it in is another issue. He’s been trying to find his thumb/fingers to suck on, but hasn’t really gotten it yet. I’m undecided if I want him to find them or keep going with the pacifier. There are certainly pros and cons to both!

  3. Sheena says:

    My first son, now 3 yrs old, is a thumb sucker. But he is a wonderful sleeper. I sucked my thumb too for a long time when I was little but evenutally just got to an age (I think 7 yrs old) when I knew I was too old to continue and I stopped. My second son, 15 months, uses a pacifier and has been a horrible sleeper from the start. We have tried desperatly to get him to take to a “lovey” or even his thumb but he loves his pacifier so much he has one in his mouth and holds one in his hand. He can put the pacifier back in himself so I dont think that is the reason for his horrible sleep. Dont really know when we will take the pacifier away. But I cant imagine taking it away and having him sleep worse than what ge already does.

  4. Lucy says:

    With my daughter i didn’t use a dummy, she refused to take the dummy, she is now 5 years almost six and still sucking the 2 fingers, with my boy, he is now 14 months and love his dummy, when i found a creative way to stop with the dummy i will let you know.

  5. Maria says:

    For those of you battling thumb sucking I sympathise. I sucked my thumb til I was 14!!!! My parents despaired, they tried everything, painting a horrible tasting liquid on my thumb which I just licked off, tried to make me wear gloves which I just took off, they even resorted to threats, I spent a lot of time banished to my room where I would sit and sulk and SUCK MY THUMB!! Just when I thought they were going to do something drastic like have my thumb surgically removed (I had a vivid imagination) my grandmother came over from Sweden and taught me how to knit, crochet and do tapestry I became so obsessed that within a matter of days I completely forgot about my thumb and never looked back. The trick was to keep both hands busy, I would even crochet in bed and fall asleep doing so.

  6. Naomi says:

    Ironic timing for this. I just took the pacifier away from my 12 month old 2 days ago!

    I completely agree with your motto ‘the earlier you do it, the easier it’s going to be. The same is true for sleep training, and for potty training’

    My older son (now age 5 3/4) was easy to take the pacifier away at 14 months. He had only been using it for napping and sleeping with us, and wasn’t using it at day care at all. I snipped the top of the pacifier gradually and weaning him off of it was easy.

    My 1 year old has also only been using the pacifier for naps and bedtime, but was much more attached. Fearing how difficult it would be to remove the pacifier later, I wanted to wean him now. I tried snipping the pacifier, but my ds was bothered by this immediately. After doing some reading seemed like we had to go cold turkey. The first nap he cried for 10 minutes, the second nap was harder at 15 minutes. Bedtime was 5 minutes. Once asleep, he pretty much slept. Day 2 (yesterday), he cried for around 5 minutes for naps and for bedtime, it was less that 1 minute!

    Bottle done (11 months)! Breast done (finished completely 2 weeks ago)! And now…pacifier done!

  7. Sharon says:

    Just before my son’s 3rd birthday, I told him that the dummy fairy had to take away his dummy so that the birthday fairy would realise he was a big boy and bring him some big boy toys – he gave me his dummy, we put it in the bin together (I had spares that he wasn’t aware of just in case!) – he went to bed that night and never asked for it again.

    Obviously, I feel that I was probably very lucky!

  8. Wendi says:

    Very well time article! My 7week old currently wakes a million times a night looking for her pacifier, I’d like to wean her before it becomes a bigger problem. I’m just not sure how to do this since she is obviously to young for CIO. Is shooshing and patting my only option? I don’t want to replace one bad sleep habit with another. Any suggestions would be appreciated!

  9. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ priyankka — If I were you, I wouldn’t stress about the finger-sucking just yet. All three of my kids have done this at some point or another, and they’ve all outgrown the habit by 18-24 months. Not all kids do that, of course, but I think it’s more common for a baby to outgrow finger/thumb sucking. So consider waiting to see if it resolves on its own.

    Thanks for commenting!

    @ Jane B. — Agreed on the “pros and cons to both” point! My kids never really took to a pacifier, but they’ve all been thumb/finger suckers. My kids all outgrew this habit around 18 months, but it sounds like your daughter is hanging on to it. Maybe she’ll outgrow it as she gets a little bigger?

    Thanks for commenting, Jane!

  10. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Sheena — I think it’s likely that your daughter will eventually outgrow the habit. As for your baby — you’re right; it sounds like the pacifier isn’t the reason for his lack of sleep. Sometimes, the pacifier is an issue when the baby can’t replace it himself, and mom and dad have to run into the room a million times each night to do so. But you mention that isn’t the issue for you.

    Have you downloaded our free guide yet? https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-sleep-through-night-free-ebook/ That might offer some insights as to why your baby isn’t sleeping well, along with some tips and strategies to try at home to encourage better sleep.

    Thanks for commenting, Sheena!

  11. Whitney says:

    This is a helpful article, but it leaves out the importance of sucking to young children for self-soothing. There is a reason why they resort to their thumbs and fingers, or a pacifier! Harvey Karp in his toddler book even suggests giving them the time they need to suck (thumb, pacifier, whatever), as it helps to calm them down.

  12. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Lucy — Do let us know what creative strategies you come up with! :) Thanks for commenting!

    @ Maria — Wow! Talk about a hard habit to break. ;) How interesting that it was knitting and crochet that helped you; who would’ve thought? Glad your grandmother arrived before surgical removal became a necessity! :)

    Thanks for commenting, Maria!

  13. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Naomi — Woohoo! Look at you, tackling all these hurdles with confidence. Way to go! Now, if you can keep that momentum going all the way to potty training… ;)

    Thanks for commenting, Naomi!

    @ Sharon — Quite the happy ending to your pacifier story, I’d say! It’s funny — some older toddlers have a horrible time letting go of their pacifiers, but for others, it seems to go much better. Further proof that every kid is different. :)

    Thanks for commenting, Sharon!

  14. Rachael says:

    I never had the intention of giving my daughter a dummy however, she was recently admitted to hospital and was giving one by the doctors to calm her down whilst they took bloods and monitored her heart rate. My daughter was 3 months old when this happened and had never had a dummy before this time. Before admitted to hospital she would go at least 4 hours during the night without waking. Now she wakes every 1-2 hours as the dummy has fell from her mouth.

    I breast feed my baby and before she was in hospital she was constantly on breast ( using me as her dummy ), she was only in hospital for 1 week but that was enough time to now want a dummy. Now at 4 month I have decided to try and wean the dummy from her.

    I’m hoping if it only takes 1 week to get addicted it will only take 1 week to wean off it. Wishful thinking, probably. I am going to try and replace the dummy with booby and hopefully restore a good nights sleep :D wish me luck.

  15. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Wendi — that is SUCH a frustrating phase, isn’t it? This is the main reason why I’m convinced none of my kids ever took to the pacifier — I got SO SICK AND TIRED of having to pop it back in their mouths a dozen times a night, I finally just gave up.

    As for other ways to help encourage sleep for your newborn — you could check out these two artilces:
    1. https://www.babysleepsite.com/newborns/newborn-sleep-baby-tips-10/
    2. https://www.babysleepsite.com/newborns/newborn-sleep-schedule-patterns/

    You’re right about 7 weeks being too young for CIO, or for any other form of “real” sleep training. Those articles will offer some gentle, newborn-appropriate things you can do to help encourage better sleep.

    Good luck to you, Wendi! And thanks for commenting. :)

  16. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Whitney — Very true; sucking is an important element in self-soothing, especially for very young babies. That’s why, for many families, pacifiers (and thumb-sucking) are useful tools to help encourage self-soothing and better sleep.

    Thanks for pointing this out, Whitney!

  17. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Rachael — good luck indeed! You’re probably right — her attachment to it can’t be strong, since she’s only had it for a week (and since she’s still so young.)

    Let us know how it goes! And thanks for commenting, Rachael. :)

  18. Mary says:

    My LO likes both her pacifier and her thumb, but she doesn’t seem too attached to either. I’m hoping this will mean getting rid of the pacifier will be easy, but I also worry that she will rely on her thumb more. Is there any way to help dissuade her from doing that?

  19. Becky says:

    I, too, was a thumb-sucker for a long time. When I finally got my braces put on, I had an “expander” put in (for my upper palate) which was kind of like a permanent mini fork hanging from the roof of my mouth. I got my braces late – around 13/14. So yes, I was sucking for that long. I did finally stop completely on my own once I had my braces (and that appliance in my mouth) However my parents, as many others, tried desperately to stop me. Finally my mother just said “FORGET IT!” and banished me to sucking in my room.

    As a mother of 3 little boys (5 and under), the littlest of which is highly addicted to the pacifier at 10 months old (and the only one of the 3 that has that drive to suck for soothing), I’ve come to appreciate that there are just *some things* that we cannot change or force on our kids. Using the potty, eating, sleeping (unfortunately), fall into that category. I’d put thumb sucking and other bodily habits in there too (picking/biting nails, etc). You can do what you can to encourage them in the right direction for all these things (like doing some method of sleep training, for example), but ultimately you cannot *force* them to do it. So that’s a huge load off, if you think about it that way, that some things will just happen when they either grow up a little or are developmentally ready.

    The pacifier is a slightly different story since it is an object that can be removed (by force) and a young child/baby has no means to get it back. As I mentioned, I am in this predicament now myself: having a 10, almost 11 month old highly dependent on the pacifier to sleep. I’ve pinged Nicole several times in concern about this over the last few months; however, for my case, it isn’t overly problematic. As a mom I want to do the “right thing” by him and I have a hard time deciding what that is. As Nicole mentioned in her comment, sometimes those pacifiers become the equivalent of a lovey. And, if those babies/toddlers throw their lovey out of the crib (like a teddy bear or blanket) or cry endlessly without it, we probably wouldn’t think twice about getting rid of them. Why should it be different for a pacifier – this is what I keep grappling with myself. I’ve yet to come up with an answer that makes me happy yet, so I will continue to work with Nicole on it, I’m sure, over the next several months.

    This is just my own experience. I sincerely appreciate the more problematic issues with pacifiers and babies (such as needing them replaced many times during the night, etc) so I know my perspective does not address those concerns. I also wanted to take the opportunity to comment about those concerned about thumb-sucking, since I did it for a long time, to encourage you to be patient with it and perhaps do what my mom did and banish kids (esp older ones) to their rooms for thumb sucking times (whenever possible, obviously you can’t do that if you’re out or driving in the car, etc). They will stop … someday, on their own, when they are ready to let it go. Keep the faith!

  20. Katherine says:

    My daughter is 5 months old and has had a pacifier since birth. She was sleeping through the night (9pm-5am) without waking until a few weeks ago. Now she sleeps soundly until about 12 and then wakes every 1-2 hrs after midnight wanting her pacifier. I am trying to wean her but don’t know if I should just go “cold turkey” or more gradual. Sometimes the pacifier (or nursing) is the only thing that calms her down. I don’t want to stop the pacifier and my breast become her soother though. Any advice??

  21. Geraldine says:

    Hi,

    I have 3 kids and all 3 used pacifiers, despite the fact that I swore everytime that I would not do it again!

    My eldest had hers until she was 3 1/2 years old and the dentist told us that we really needed to take it away because of the damages it was creating to her teeth (cross bites). She suggested to use the paci fairy tale. It worked mostly but the fairy left her just one paci for bed only, advising that she would come back for it if it was taken out of the bed… (I wrote a nice letter on behalf of the fairy)
    2 weeks later, my daughter had poked a hole in her remaining pacifier and it made it feel very strange to her. She said it did not work anymore and threw it away. We were done!

    My youngest 2 boys were very bad sleepers and at some point when they were about 6 months old, I felt that the pacifier was making it worse.
    I decided to wean them from it at that age. I started one day taking it away during the nap only. I just took them to their bedroom and held them crying in my arms for a very long time (hour(s)) until they fell asleep exhausted.
    2 days later, I started the same thing for the night.
    2 more days later, I recruited a friend to help me at home all day long and I just stopped giving the pacifier during the day too. We had to help each other in order to hold the baby in our arms whenever he was fussy instead of giving the dreaded paci.
    It worked wonderfully and it wasn’t very painful.

    One side note: for my middle son, I had a pacifier still left in my car and a while after he had been weaned from it, he was extremely fussy in the car, so I gave up and gave the pacifier back. However I took it away from him as soon as we got off the car. It slowly became a habit that whenever we were in the car, he was allowed to have it but nowhere else. It was great! He loved to go anywhere in the car! This lasted until he was 3.

    For the next kid, I tried to do the same, but after he had been weaned, he never wanted to take it back. That was fine too!

    As for loveys, I am French and over there, most kids have one. My 3 kids have one. My eldest tends to carry them everywhere and I don’t like that. For the other 2, I have taught them to leave them in their bed when they wake up. I still have to struggle to reinforce the rule sometimes, but overall it works great. I chose big loveys so that they are easy for them to find in the dark and they don’t need my help.

  22. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Mary — I don’t think it’s very easy to dissuade thumb-sucking for babies (since you can’t exactly get rid of their thumbs, the way you’d get rid of a pacifier!) I’d encourage you not to worry too much about it; if your daughter switches to her thumb once you get rid of the pacifier, it’s probably best just to let it be.

    Thanks for commenting, Mary!

  23. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Becky — thanks for this insightful and encouraging comment! I’m with you; I think thumb-sucking is one of those “let it go” things. I think my six years of parenting experience has forced me to realize that there are a zillion battles I COULD fight with my kids, but I don’t NEED to fight all of them. That’s helped me sort out which issues are worth battling over, and which aren’t.

    Lovely comment, Becky! Thanks for sharing it :)

  24. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Katherine — that’s so hard, when you have to constantly replace the pacifier. Could your daughter’s sudden wakefulness be due to the 4 month sleep regression, do you think? (https://www.babysleepsite.com/how-we-sleep/4-month-old-sleep-regression/)

    For tips and insights on how to handle this, I’d recommend checking out our free guide: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-sleep-through-night-free-ebook/ You may find some guidelines there that’ll help you figure out what steps to take with the pacifier. For my part, I always chose to ditch the pacifier at that point (the point when my kids were waking up every 30 minutes and crying for me to come and replace it.) I always figured that it was less a “pacifier” at that point and more an “agitator” ;)

    Thanks for commenting, Katherine! (Great name, by the way — it’s my daughter’s, too :) )

  25. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Geraldine — Wow – what a helpful comment! So many good tips in there that are bound to be useful to our readers. Thanks so much for sharing these, Geraldine! Always nice to have parents helping other parents :)

  26. Lainie Rusco says:

    So do you have advice on weaning a 2.5 year old from her thumb? She literally does not know how to fall asleep – or move around in her sleep – without it. She uses it independent of her beloved blankies, but when she even LOOKS at her blankies, the thumb goes right in her mouth, too. The slightest upset during waking hours, and she goes crying for her blankies so she can suck her thumb (she’ll suck without her blankies, but the attachment is strong).

    She is STUBBORN. I’m not wanting to get rid of the blankies if I don’t have to. But I feel she needs to a) learn how to self-soothe another way and b) not have ruined teeth for life.

    Any suggestions? I have that AWFUL Mavala Stop nail polish. It works, but then she does not know how to fall asleep. And I’m guessing she’d wake in the middle of the night, too. Should I just ride out the storm of all that until she learns to adjust? Did I mention she is so insanely stubborn and will throw an hour-long fit if need be? :)

  27. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Lainie Rusco — Your daughter definitely sounds stubborn! Her teen years should be exciting for you ;)

    Check out this webmd.com article: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/9-ways-to-wean-a-child-off-thumb-sucking?page=2

    I think it offers some really good do’s and dont’s for weaning a toddler or preschooler off thumb-sucking. The gist of their recommendations is that there’s really no way you can force your child to stop, but you can find small and gentle ways to encourage her to stop.

    Hope that article helps you out, Lainie! And thanks for commenting. :)

  28. Lainie Rusco says:

    Actually, that was very helpful! I do wish it didn’t cause fights as she throws fits for her blankies (which really makes her dad mad – he won’t put up with it at all; versus me, I usually can distract her). But I understand that it’s her comfort. OK, I’ll put the nasty nail polish away. :) Thanks!

  29. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Lainie — glad it was helpful! And yeah, the article didn’t speak too highly of the nail polish, did it? ;)

    Hang in there, Lainie! My oldest is a strong-willed and intense little boy, so I can sympathize with your plight. :)

  30. Shari says:

    My son was 2 years old last week. He is the most strong willed child I have ever seen. He only gets his paci at nap and nighttime. However, he has recently become very insistent on having it all the time. He will literally stand at the (closed) door to his room and cry for 15 minutes or more because he wants his pacifier. We are also still trying to break him of taking his milk from a bottle. Takes juice fine in a sippy cup, but will refuse to eat or drink all day if he doesn’t get milk in bottle. Did I mention he is incredibly stubborn.

    Any ideas for getting rid of the pacifier or bottle?

  31. paula says:

    Hi! , my son is almost 11 months and I wean him of the pacifier at night when he was 5 months old, he was waking 8-12 times at night! I never like the idea that he uses pacifier during the day, but he does use it to nap, is that a problem if he doesn’t need it to night sleep???

  32. Ginette says:

    My big boy is now 2.5, but took his soother away around 20 months as our second was due in May, and had been advised it was best to take it away well in advance of the arrival.

    A friend had just cut off the whole sucky part and her daughter reacted like they had murdered her best friend. Traumatized by her story I searched and found an answer that worked like a miracle for my little man.

    I was working full time and long days so I took each step a week apart so on the weekend, just in case, but it was not necessary.

    1- several pin pricks in the end
    2- small vertical slit in the end
    3- snip off a very tiny piece of the tip
    4- snip off a little bit more
    continue taking off small bits at a time…
    (Do all steps to all soothers that are available)

    The idea is it looses suction and therefore is no longer desirable. My little guy lost interest and stopped asking for it all together between the 1st and second little snip. No crying and no drama!

    I had found the idea on line and hope that it can help someone else as much as it helped us. Thanks

  33. Laurie says:

    We are still weaning my 29 month old daughter off her sucker, but are in no hurry. As a baby she would not take the pacifier until she was nearly 8 months old and it made a huge difference in her ability to sleep (and my sanity). The downside is that she definitely has a strong attachment to it and pairs it with her lovey in items toted around the apartment. When she was 18 months old, we moved to a very urban environment in a foreign country. For various reasons (security, germs, sanity) we created a rule that “sucker” and her lovey were not allowed to leave our apartment. We created a spot for them by the door and she diligently places both there anytime we are preparing to leave. It’s just a part of the routine now. She also has three “stroller friends” she is allowed to take in her stroller – all selected due to their ability to be washed and replaced and her non-dependance on them for comfort and sleep. The new protocol evolved out of my constant fear of her losing her lovey in the middle of a busy street or subway or bus. She just naturally paired the sucker with it.

    We are now working on ridding of the sucker when she is playing at home. If she has friends or playgroup over, she insists on leaving sucker in her bed and closing her dor so no one else is tempted to “borrow” them. I am capitalizing on this by requesting in the morning and after nap that she leave sucker in her bed so I can understand her better when she talks and hear her nice voice. It is hit and miss. Usually she runs for sucker when any emotional breakdown begins. (several times a day for a two year old). I am okay with her using the pacifier as a soother and have no intention of eliminating it during sleep anytime soon. We forgot it on a weekend trip once and after some hysterics, she simply resorted to sucking her fingers. I’d rather the pacifier – less orthodontia later…

    So what works for my daughter is a longer gradual process which is situational and allows her to soothe as needed… For HER a long gradual process has been the most effective method for just about everything. I am a firm believer that every child is different, so we’ll see what happens with her baby brother….

  34. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Shari — Have you tried any of the tips mentioned in the article? One idea might be to limit the pacifier to the bedroom — at naps and nighttime only, for example. That’s often a good, gentle way to start cutting back on pacifier use.

    As for the bottle — I always used a cold-turkey approach and just stopped the bottle altogether. My theory was that even if my kid was resistant to the cup, they’d eventually get thirsty enough and drink from it. So you could try that approach.

    Let us know what works for you, Shari! And thanks for commenting!

  35. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ paula — I’d say this is normal and nothing to worry about. Some kids are selective about their pacifier use, needing it at certain times but not others.

    Thanks for commenting!

  36. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Ginette — great comment! Thanks for offering such a specific, detailed account of your strategy for weaning your son off the pacifier. Honestly, I’ve never heard of this approach (making little cuts and pin-pricks in the pacifier), but what you say makes sense. And your method (which is quite gradual) definitely seems gentler than cutting the rubbery part off completely.

    Thanks for commenting, Ginette, and for sharing this excellent tip! :)

  37. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Laurie — Very wise, I think, to take your daughter’s personality and temperament into account as you work to wean her from the pacifier. As long as the parent is patient enough (and it definitely seems that you are!), then a slow, gradual approach like this can work quite well.

    Thanks for sharing your insights, Laurie! Very helpful. :)

  38. Corinne says:

    My 9 mth old son has a pacifier just for sleeping. He isnt causing any dramas at the moment but i am wondering if i should try to wean him off now to save it being harder later on. “If its not broken then dont fix it”?

  39. Emily DeJeu says:

    Corinne — I’d say you’re on the right track with your thinking; if the pacifier isn’t causing issues right now, then you might want to leave it alone. Instead of weaning him from it, I’d focus on preventing bad pacifier habits. For example, if your son starts to want to have it with him all the time, you’d probably do yourself a favor by restricting it to nighttime and nap time; that could help prevent any major pacifier dependencies.

    Thanks for commenting, Corinne!

  40. Rachael says:

    I am now on day 2 of weaning my LO off her dummy. So far so good, in fact she seems to cry less going off to sleep without it. I have just left her to suckle longer on my breast after feeds and this seems to be working so far, like i say its only day 2

    last night was the first night without it and we did have 10 mins of crying which normally doesn’t happen but i think we are off to an excellent start, hopefully sleeping will get better once she’s gone a few nights without it.

    I have already seen changes in her, less crying through out the day as she doesn’t have something falling out her mouth.

  41. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Rachael — Yay for you, and for your sweet daughter!! So glad you brought us good news today :) I’ll bet you’re feeling glad you decided to make the move towards weaning her off the pacifier.

    Thanks for the update, Rachael! Hope your progress continues to go smoothly.

  42. Lindsey says:

    Sucking really helps to calm crying babies and I would rather be able to take away the thing they suck on rather than fight them on sucking their fingers, which can’t be taken away. I found a trick for getting my little one to take a pacifier when he was originally spitting it out all of the time: once he began sucking on it, I would pull it gently (like snagging a fish on a fishing line) multiple times. He immedately sucked harder each time (the person who suggested this technique said that babies have a natural desire to prevent someone from taking something already in their mouth…it’s mine so give it back). I just spent some time, when he would take it, tugging on it gently…like ten times until he seemed to have it. I only allow him to have it for sleeping and in the car if I can’t get to him. Since he can get it himself, I just leave it in the crib for him to find and put him down without it.

  43. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Lindsey — Thanks for sharing this tip! I think this is a “Happiest Baby On the Block” strategy, right? I think I remember reading about it in that book when I was trying (in vain, it turns out) to get my oldest to take a pacifier. Glad that technique worked well for you!

    Sounds like pacifier use is working well in your house; if that’s the case, then you shouldn’t feel any pressure to try and wean your little guy off it anytime soon. As Nicole often says, “It’s not a problem until it’s a problem!”

    Thanks for commenting, Lindsey! :)

  44. KT says:

    I am about to wean my 9 month old off of her pacifier this weekend. She is fully sleep trained but still a very poor sleeper (I am convinced it is nothing we can completely correct no matter how hard we try, how much we tweak her schedule, or how consistent we are). Every little thing throws her off, and I think the pacifier is causing more problems than it is worth. I sprinkle them around the crib but since my 9 month old has not really mastered mobility she inevitably ends up away from a pacifier at some point in the night, at which point she cries until I come in to do a check and give her one. She can reinsert it herself but only when one is nearby. So it’s time for it to go and hopefully that will help her sleep through the night (which she can do) at least more often than she has lately. She actually doesn’t seem to really like her pacifier very much – she will push it away if it is offered at any time other than bedtime and naptime and even refuses to let anyone else insert it in the middle of the night.

    My only question is whether to go cold turkey since she is still under a year or try the pin prick/snipping trick.

  45. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ KT — sounds to me like the pacifier probably is causing more problems than it’s solving. As for how to wean, you could always try cold turkey and see how she handles it. If it’s a disaster, you could re-introduce and then try a gentler, more gradual method.

    Let us know how it goes, KT! And thanks for commenting. :)

  46. Jessica B says:

    Oddly enough our 8 month old appears to be self weaning from the pacifier. He is managing to stay asleep longer and survive position changes at night without crying out to have one of us pop it back in near as often. I’m hoping by 12 months that thing is gone.

  47. Rachael says:

    @ KT – I would definitely try to go cold turkey. I weaned my LO at 4 month from the first night without the dummy/pacifier she slept better. My LO did only have it for a short period of time before we decided to take it.

    If your LO is waking quite often already what do you have to lose, a disrupted night!!!

    It only took a couple of days for my LO to forget all about the dummy/pacifier everytime I thought she wanted I would destract her and keep her busy this took her mind off it. Something else I learnt out of sight out of mind literally.

    Good luck and keep us posted on how its going :)

  48. Emily DeJeu says:

    @ Jessica B — how nice for you! Always a happy thing when our babies and toddlers take it upon themselves to do some self-weaning. ;)

    @ Rachael — thanks for reaching out and sharing this advice! Little bits of wisdom from moms who are “in the trenches” (so to speak) are so, so valuable to our readers. Thanks for commenting!