Ready to pacifier wean? Use these principles to have less crying for baby and mom. Baby doesn’t have to cry and scream to make this happen.
The day my first daughter turned 1.
I had a plan.
I would let her take the pacifier to bed for naps and bedtimes (returning very rarely to put it back in) and then take it away completely at the age of 1.
Look… pacifier weaning ain’t for the weak of heart.
So I stuck with my plan. It took a week of unhappy naps and bedtimes, but we got through. And all was well. My second son… I took his away at a year and a few months.
My third son… the same. My third son… he barely gave it up at 2 and my 4th son… well… he’s still got it.
So I’ve done it all the ways.
Signs It’s Time For Pacifier Weaning
- Baby wakes up frequently throughout the night looking for the pacifier, interrupting their sleep and yours.
- Baby’s teeth are starting to be affected by the pacifier.
- Baby wants to have the pacifier all day every day, not just to get to sleep.
- You are ready to take it away. The end. (That’s enough of a reason!)
Pacifier Weaning 101: What To Do
So if you’re ready to start pacifier weaning (and you’ve already done swaddle weaning) then this post will help. Be realistic, though… baby will probably not like it. So if you are banking on 0 tears then you are going to be disappointed and not go through with it.
The sleep prop will pass, and pass quickly, if you simply commit and get on with what you’ve decided to do.
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Get Emotionally Ready
This is the hardest part.
Repeat after me.
Baby is not going to like this.
This doesn’t mean it’ll be horrible or there’ll be endless crying or screaming or being up all night. But it does mean baby will not like it. Baby just won’t.
If you can accept that this is a necessary step and baby will be just fine – maybe better! – after it’s done, you can get through.
Make A Plan Based On Age Of Baby Or Toddler
The younger your baby is, the easier it will be to do pacifier weaning.
➡️ The reason is, they are still little and don’t have the power of will behind them like toddlers or even preschoolers do.
If you’ve got a baby on your hands you can likely just take the pacifier away, rock and cuddle at sleeping times, and move past it all within a week or so. If you’ve got a toddler or preschooler it may take a bit longer and be more of an uproar for the little one because they’ve had it so long.
They won’t remember life without it!
- Cold turkey | This will work for fast-adapting babies and mamas who are simply Over It All. This will be a fairly big adjustment for baby, but will not draw out the pacifier weaning process because that’s just it. Pacifiers should be thrown away out of the house so you aren’t tempted. This is like driving straight from Point A to Point B.
- Hole in the end | I’ve used this method a few times and it works. I put a small hole with a sewing pin OR I cut a hole in the pacifier with scissors. This means there’s no suction vacuum and it’s not nearly as satisfying. This is like a bridge going from Point A to Point B. A bridge from having a pacifier to not having one.
- New pacifier (of a different type) | I’ve also used this method when we lost the baby’s normal pacifier and had another. We gave it to him, he hated it, and it was sort of a weaning on its own because he’d rather have had NO pacifier than a new/non-familiar one. This is also like a bridge from Point A to Point B.
- Send it to another child or grandmother or whoever. | This is a popular method and often works when you have children who are older and able to understand. You’ll talk it up and explain that on X day, the pacifier is going to be taken away since they’re old enough to go without it. You can mail mail it to another child or someone else or whatever special ceremony you’d like to do. Point is, the child is prepared and knows it’s coming.
You know your own child and know which one that you can withstand.
Simply choose, be sure, then run with it.
Avoid Yo Yo Parenting
Avoid confusing baby during this process.
You decide to wean pacifier and cut a hole in the bottom. Baby cries and cries. You can’t take it any more and you run to Walgreens, buy a new pacifier, and give it to the baby. Now the baby thinks you won’t give it as normal, but that if they cry a lot they’ll get it.
This prolongs the process and makes it more miserable for everyone.
Instead use the following tips
- Choose a time that makes sense for you to do this. Not during Christmas, with house guests, or in any of the situations below.
- Get your spouse on board so you aren’t alone and won’t cave in.
- Just don’t do it if you aren’t ready!
Don’t Do It While Baby Is Teething, Tired, Or Disoriented
There are some not so good times to decide to pacifier wean. They are the following….
- When baby is teething. | Teething already hurts and the pacifier is often soothing to them so taking it away during teething makes it unnecessarily difficult.
- When baby is having sleep issues. | If your baby is tired – first – I recommend taking [thrive_2step id=’9673′]my free baby sleep tips course[/thrive_2step]. This will help you get some good habits in place. You’ve got two main scenarios. Baby is sleeping okay if baby has pacifier, but if not baby wakes up. This might mean it’s time to do pacifier weaning. Second scenario, baby has pacifier and STILL does not sleep well and this is also a good time to do pacifier weaning so you can teach them healthy sleep habits.
- Baby is jet-lagged or you’re going through major change. | If you are going through transition at home or have come off a big trip, etc. it might not be the best time to do pacifier weaning. Mainly for your own sake. If baby has had the pacifier for a while then it could be a tough transition so waiting until things are calm is a good idea.
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What To Expect
Ultimately, baby isn’t going to like it.
This time may mean you are doing more cuddling, more lying in bed with them to settle them down, and generally more comforting since something they’ve had for a long time is being taken away.
Now, don’t worry that you’re going to start new habits because this likely won’t drag out past one week. If you find your child has adjusted quickly, then move on with the new norm.
- Make a plan for how you’ll do the pacifier weaning.
- Choose a week that is relatively calm for your family.
- Set your expectations for how you’ll react when baby’s upsets are likely to occur.
- Comfort baby all you can!
“This too shall pass. It may pass like a kidney stone, but it’ll pass…” Unknown
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FAQs on weaning the pacifier
If a child can replace their own pacifier, the need to wean isn’t as urgent. When teeth start to displace and pacifier use becomes habitual, it’s a good idea to wean.
They may refuse a pacifier if they are hungry or irritable. If a baby wants to nurse, they may simply refuse the pacifier.
You typically want to remove a pacifier and let a child learn to self-soothe without having anything to replace it.
I’ve had two kids who had pacifier teeth, and both corrected themselves, though this is not a given or guaranteed. Best to wean when the teeth start becoming crooked.
Pacifiers can cause dental issues which may lead to speech problems. Also, if a child uses a pacifier all day they’re less likely to speak which accounts for delays. Pacifiers at sleep times only, not likely.
Neither is “worse” per se, but a pacifier is easier to wean from because you can take it away. You can’t take a child’s thumb away!