If you have a toddler or even a preschooler holding tight to their binky, you're not alone: pacifier weaning is a common challenge. While dental problems generally won't result from pacifier use unless the habit continues beyond age 3, many parents find that pacifier weaning is easier before a child reaches 2 years old. (If you're concerned, though, check with your pediatric dentist.) For a smooth transition, try these brilliant pacifier-weaning strategies from Circle of Moms members.
1. Snip the Tip
One of the most popular pacifier-weaning tricks is cutting off the pacifier's tip. After the ability to suck is removed, many children quickly lose interest. Try telling your child that the pacifier is broken, and let her throw it away. If the initial snip doesn't do the trick, moms like Christina M., a mother of one son, suggest gradually cutting off more of the pacifier: "I tried cutting the end of the pacifier off a little bit every few days until there was nothing for him to suck on, and then he didn't really want it anymore." Just be careful that your child isn't chewing off pacifier pieces, which could be a choking hazard.
2. Swap Soothing Items
"Try replacing the pacifier with something else that can give her security," suggests Kate G. While a child may not instantly forget her pacifier, many moms found that alternative soothing items did eventually replace the pacifier. "I replaced the pacifier with a 'sleep blanket.' The first couple of nights/naps she would cry for about 10 minutes, but her blanket against her face kept her warm and happy eventually," says Angela C.
3. Gradually Reduce Use
While some moms advocate a cold-turkey approach to pacifier weaning, others like Meredith Z. find that gradually limiting pacifier usage is successful: "First, we limited pacifier usage to inside the house, then only to sleep time, then only to overnight, and then we said 'let's try bedtime without your bink just for tonight,' and after the first night, he only asked for it once, and then he was totally fine. We just made sure we stuck to our rules, and let him be comfortable at each level before restricting bink usage more."
4. Get Help From the Pacifier Fairy
Another popular pacifier-weaning tactic is to have a make-believe character reward the child for giving away their pacifiers. Sarah M., mother of two girls, shares: "Say that the Dummy Fairy will come and take them and give them to new babies that need them. Then you leave a special 'big girl' present in the basket for them when they wake up." Other moms, including Linnea F., use characters the kids already believe in: "My kids all gave theirs to the Easter Bunny for little ones who need binkies and don't have them. This would also work with Santa. We still had some withdrawal cries, but it didn't last."
5. Trade For Toys
Instead of having imaginative characters bring a child a reward, some moms advocate openly trading the pacifier for a prize. "Take her to Toys 'R' Us and let her pick out a toy in exchange for the pacifier," suggests Janice D. "It worked for me two times. You may have a few days that are a bit rough, but then it will be fine." Other moms also had their child "pay" the cashier with a pacifier for the toy — just discuss this with the cashier in advance to make sure she's game.
6. "Lose" the Pacifier
After Melissa C. misplaced her daughter's pacifier, she realized that simply pretending to lose it would be a good pacifier-weaning strategy. "Maybe if you somehow 'lose' yours and have him help you look for it and don't find it, it'll let him know that you care enough to help him, even if you can't fix it." Dawn D. says she used the same weaning tactic. "I just told her we lost it and we'd look, but then she was OK with 'we lost it' and in two weeks she forgot all about it."
Looking for more advice on pacifier sucking? Have a great tip we missed? From debates on thumb-sucking and pacifiers to advice on your baby's first dentist appointment, Circle of Moms is a friendly place to discuss and debate diverse questions and concerns related to children and motherhood.