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It’s a tough job to get something that comforts your child and weaning your child from a pacifier is one of these tasks.
The best time to wean your child from the pacifier would be around 12 months (before they are older and become too attached), but this won’t apply to all children. With my little guy, he was closer to two when we weaned him off a pacifier.
It is best to try to control how much your child is using the pacifier in the first place by only giving it to them during naps and bedtime. Around when he turned one we limited him to only having a pacifier at naptime and bedtime. That way when we weaned him off of it it would only be a battle at those times.
Here are ways you can successfully wean your child from a pacifier:
Dispose of the pacifier –
You can inform your child you need to send the pacifier away to a new baby since they are already a big kid. If possible, you can even involve your child in throwing away the pacifier so they will know it is really gone.
This works more with older children but the overall idea is to use a toy or another incentive for your child to give up the pacifier. The reward also has to be something well worth it and special enough for your baby to “give up” the pacifier.
We ended up going with a mix of the above two. My little boy loves the movie Cars and we let him move from his crib into a twin bed with Lightning McQueen pillows and blankets in exchange for throwing away his pacifiers.
He was super excited to get his bed so he took his pacifiers and threw them away. We cheered for him and made him feel like a big kid – graduating from his pacifier and crib to toddler bed.
One thing that also helped a TON when he would ask for his pacifier back and start to whine we showed him recorded a video of him throwing them away. That way when he gave us trouble we could show him HE willingly threw them away. Usually, that was enough to end the battle.
Cold turkey –
This could work for some children but not all. You take the pacifier away and if your child asks for it, just say that it is all gone. Ideally, the response would be that your child will just learn to accept it. Children aren’t usually easy so expect that they could still cry and make a fuss. Just remember that’s all part of the process and you’ve got this!
Changes to the pacifier –
Some moms swear by cutting off the tip of the pacifier nipple or poking a small hole in it. This will create a different effect or sensation that could be unsatisfying when your child uses it and they might just not want to use it.
To be on the safe side, make sure no small pieces will fall off that could become a choking hazard and keep an eye out at all times. Some moms even dip the pacifiers into lemon or vinegar for example so that the taste will become unappealing for the child.
There are various books about giving up the pacifier that can help your child with this change and read with them can help make it a more pleasant transition and also prepare them mentally.
By showing them someone their age that gave up their pacifier they are more likely to think they can do it too!
Bonus Tip: Make sure everyone is onboard with the plan – this is to avoid confusion and to set up your child for success. Make sure you inform all adults if your child will only get the pacifier during nap times or bedtimes or if they have been completely weaned off the pacifier.
Don’t forget to inform nannies at the daycare and grandparents and other relatives as well who could be taking care of your child.
Alternative comforts –
The first time you would take away the pacifier could be stressful for your child so you can offer other forms of comfort like a gentle massage, soft singing, rocking and swinging motions, and other comforting things like a soft blanket or snuggly, stuffed toy.
This is like the tooth fairy wherein instead of getting a tooth, the pacifier fairy will come and get the pacifier and replace it with a special toy or gift.
Big kid day –
You can use this “day” to let your child know they are already big kids and that they can get to do all sorts of fun things they weren’t able to do before. Giving up pacifiers is just one thing they have to do as a big kid. You can also do different activities during this day like going out to play, getting ice cream and cake, and make it a lovely day out.
Other creative ways:
- Tying the pacifier to the end of a balloon and letting it fly away. (You can tell a story about how another little baby needs the pacifier and would get it)
- Trading the pacifier for a new toy at the store.
- Burying the pacifier with a seed and later they can see that the pacifier “transformed” into a plant.
When trying to wean your child off their pacifier, just remember to always keep it a positive and reinforcing experience for your child and never use negative words and actions.
Prepare yourself that nap times might be shorter and bedtime might be rough for a few days. You may not want to try weaning them from the pacifier if you have other big life changes going on, they are teething or if you are traveling.