A pacifier is often a child’s first and most precious possession. It offers comfort, satisfies an infant’s need to suck, provides a sense of security, and oftentimes, peace to parents.
However, there may come a time when as a parent, you feel it necessary to wean your child from the pacifier. Pediatric dentists recommend limiting pacifier time once a child is 2 years old and eliminating it by age 4 to avoid dental problems. Beyond that, there are no hard-and-fast rules about when and how to say “bye-bye binky.” Teasing, harsh words, and punishment are not effective ways of eliminating the pacifier habit. Following is a list of tips to help parents in the weaning endeavor:
Tips for Pacifier Weaning
- Choose a positive time in your child’s life. The time of a move to a new home, a change in caregivers, an addition of a new baby to the family, or any major change in your child’s life would not be considered a positive time.
- Substitute other self soothing items such as a soft blanket or stuffed animal that will provide comfort in this time of change. These items will help your child learn to calm herself without the pacifier.
- Make this a gradual process, perhaps first limiting the pacifier during times of low stress, then to inside use only, then to naptime and bedtime. After your child begins to utilize the newer self soothing tools to help her calm down and go to sleep, pacifier use may be limited to bedtime and eventually phased out completely.
- Schedule play dates with children that do not use pacifiers. Children model the behavior of others around them.
- Provide activities for your child to do while playing alone to keep her distracted from the pacifier.
- Praise and reward your child when she does not use her pacifier. Hugs and stickers are great rewards.
Brace yourself for some struggles and tears! Keep an empathetic attitude and be patient. Remember, your child will eventually be successful!