The pacifier is a vital and amazing parenting tool. It soothes babies when they're cranky, keeps them calm during car rides, and distracts them during sometimes daunting public outings like grocery shopping. It gives your nipples or arms a much-needed break from nursing or holding your baby when they need comforting. It also gives your little one the ability to drift off to sleep in their crib without a ton of help from you.
While you never knew you could cherish such a small object so much, you also probably never knew how much stress it could cause you once you decide to take it away in order to help your kid's speech and teeth development. There will be tears, drama, and sleepless nights (again!), but it is possible to pull off. Here are five tips to make the transition as smooth as possible to keep you and your baby sane. Don't give up!
- Keep the habit brief. Removing the pacifier sooner rather than later will help make the whole ordeal less of a mountain to climb. Trust me, removing the pacifier from a toddler is much more difficult than removing it from a 10-month-old or a 6-month-old.
- Give it to the "Pacifier Fairy." Get creative with how you're giving away the pacifier. You can explain to your child that you gave the binky to the "Pacifier Fairy," who brings them to new babies in need. And as a reward for their generosity and ability to share, they will receive a prize, or something special to graduate them to official "big boy/girl" status.
- Make it taste bad. Ask your pediatrician and pharmacist about what you can use to "flavor" the pacifier safely to make it taste undesirable to your child. Your kiddo will cut the habit quickly for sure!
- Try the cold turkey method. This won't be easy, but you can explain to your little one (if they're at an age where they can understand) that on X date, the pacifier goes away. No excuses or delaying. Just suck it up. It might be a headache in the beginning, but it'll all be worth it once your baby forgets all about their paci.
- Go slowly and pick certain times. If you're not into the cold turkey method, try picking certain times to let the baby have the pacifier . . . and eliminate others. Maybe they can't have the binky during the day, but can use it during naps and at night. Then, drop the binky during naps, etc. This will make the process go more slowly, but perhaps with less tears for baby (and you).