Nah nah, sucky, paci, binky, nuk-nuk, tooky … whatever kids call them, one of the most important facets of successfully using a pacifier is knowing when to stop using it. Though some physicians who care for children suggest weaning from the pacifier at about nine to 12 months – the same time you banish the bottle – others believe aiming to wean by about 18 months is good, too. Whenever you choose to wean baby, you can make the transition to being pacifier-free a little easier on you and your little one with the tips from the pros as reported by WebMD.
Before we start (or after you finish) reading about the 10 tips, you may want to review my complete report, Pacifiers for Babies – What are the Risks and Benefits?
1) State your intentions
“My first tip is to always, always prepare your child in advance for what you’re going to do,” says Mark Brenner, MFT, PhD, family therapist and author of Pacifiers, Blankets, Bottles, and Thumbs: What Every Parent Should Know About Starting and Stopping.
“For example, I’ll say, ‘Jordan, in three days we’re going to be done with the pacifier and I know you understand and that you can do it.’ You don’t want the thing to just disappear.”
2) Try the limit rule
If you want to take the weaning a little slower, Brenner suggests the limit rule.
Pick rooms that the pacifier can be used in, for example, maybe the bedroom but not the living room.
Or try limiting the time the pacifier is used.
If necessary “give a substitute comfort object such as a small new toy or book that the child can carry around for security,” suggests Shu.
3) Leave it out
When baby uses a pacifier at night, refrain from going into their room to put the pacifier back in.
The recommendation for using pacifiers to help prevent SIDS only applies to a baby falling asleep.
There’s no suggested benefit once they are asleep.
4) Love the lulls
Take advantage of the natural lulls in a child’s attraction to the pacifier.
For many babies that’s in the second half of their first year.
And be aware that often babies don’t ask for a pacifier “as much as parents are quick to offer” it, says Jana.
5) Go snippety-snip
When your child’s not around, cut the pacifier’s nipple a little, suggests Brenner, “then show your child that the nipple has been damaged.” Explain that the pacifier is now dangerous and has to be thrown away.
Never cut a pacifier and give it back to your child — a step some parents take in an effort to wean — as it poses a very real risk as a choking hazard.
6) Don’t plan for emergencies
Some parents and pediatricians suggest cold turkey is the best way to go, especially for older children.
But don’t keep an “emergency” pacifier on hand, says Jana.
This only reinforces the idea that if your little one cries long enough their beloved binky will magically reappear.
7) To keep pacifier use safe , never put the pacifier on a cord around baby’s neck or crib.
Why? Because of the risk of strangulation!
8) Look for a pacifier with ventilation holes in the shield
This is suggested by the Academy of General Dentistry, as they permit air passage.
9) Look for pacifiers with symmetrical nipples,
These help the pacifier stay in the right sucking position. Also look for those with a shield wider than your baby’s mouth.
10) Don’t share a pacifier between children, and don’t clean a dropped one with your own mouth.
“Parents’ mouths have plenty of germs,” says Shu, and can transmit viruses and bacteria to the baby.
Shu recommends washing a pacifier with soap and water or at least giving it a good rinse.
For more details on the risk and benefits of pacifiers, see my complete report, Pacifiers for Babies – What are the Risks and Benefits?