When my first baby entered the world as a colicky, crazy little thing I knew there would be one solution: give her a pacifier. But several weeks later, I found myself re-plugging the pacifier in her mouth over and over again at night. She was just one of those babies who had a hard time keeping it in, and cried every time it fell out. I knew I had to stop giving it to her.
There are many different opinions from experts on when and why to get rid of the pacifier, but I think it is a parent’s decision so I’m going to tell you the pros and cons of pacifiers and let you decide if you should get rid of your child’s.
PROS: On the plus side, pacifiers can be an easy way to soothe a baby (and therefore, soothe parents!) and research says they may help reduce the risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
If you decide to keep the paci for now, know that until your baby develops their pincer grasp (around 8 months on average) it will be your job to re-plug the pacifier for them. If your baby is capable of re-plugging their pacifier but is still waking at night and you are putting it in for him or her, you will have to stop doing that. Start by placing it in your child’s hand and making him or her re-plug it and work towards just pointing to it and making your baby find it. Spreading several around the crib should help.
CONS: Studies have linked pacifiers with a three times higher risk for ear infections. They can affect speech and teeth in older children. Also, they are a sleep crutch.
If you are ready to get rid of the pacifier, it is easier to do before a child is 15 months or between the ages of 2.5-3. Don’t take it away during stressful times such as a move or a new sibling being born.
How to get rid of it
Honestly, there is no such thing as weaning the pacifier. You can’t do it slowly. It’s either in your baby’s mouth or it’s not. Pick a night to no longer give it. Make sure your baby has a lovey instead. If you need to sleep train, the first night of training is a good night to stop giving the pacifier. Make sure it’s a night when your baby has had good naps and he or she has had a soothing bedtime routine.
Ideas for older children:
- Prepare your child for the change by talking about it a few days before you actually get rid of the pacifiers.
- Give all the pacifiers away to the Paci Fairy (who may trade your child for money or a toy).
- Read books like Little Bunny’s Pacifier Plan by Maribeth Boelts, No More Pacifier for Piggy! by Sam Williams, or Branli Says Bye-Bye to Binky by Robyn Arnold.
- Send them to the hospital for all the new babies.
- Take a pacifier to Build-a-Bear and let your child stuff it inside a new animal to sleep with.
Whatever the age of your child, the key to your success will be to stay consistent and not give it to him or her. Expect a few pretty rough nights, but then it’s done and your baby will sleep.