At some point parents know they will have to wean their daughter away from her coveted pacifier, The process of weaning your child from pacifier can be difficult, although it’s arguably easier than weaning her from sucking her thumb. “The earlier you get rid of them, the better,” says mom Robyn Sekula who has three young daughters. “With children as young as two, they forget quickly. Take advantage of that as soon as you can,” she advises. While it’s true that your ‘timing’ can make the difference to a relatively easy transition, the truth of the matter is that each child is unique and they have varying degrees of psychological attachment to their night time friend.
Emotionally the pacifier has provided your child with comfort and a consistent routine during sleep time, so it’s important to appreciate what a big deal this process is to your daughter. After all, it was the pacifier or binky that allowed your toddler (and mom and dad) to “sleep” through night and allowed her to feel comfortable and calm in a sometimes not-so-comfortable world. But now that you’re daughter is a toddler, she’s approaching the age where her pacifier must “find a new home.”
Why Toss the Pacifier?
Once your daughter becomes a toddler, there are many compelling reasons to help her give-up the pacifier, including:
• A delay in language development. If your daughter sucks her pacifier for the majority of the day, she is unable to speak clearly and correctly.
• Sucking is contagious. Often, children insist on sucking a bottle instead of moving to a sippy cup simply because it soothes her like the pacifier. When a child’s pacifier is given-up, she is usually more likely to try ‘big girl’ experiences such as drinking from a cup.
• Promotes anger management. As your toddler learns to deal with their emotions and frustrations, she may come to rely on using the pacifier to sooth her when she’s upset. This restricts her relying on her own internal process to manage her emotions.
• Dental issues. The longer your daughter sucks her pacifier, the more damage she can inflict on her bite and developing permanent teeth.
How to say goodbye to an old friend:
Get ready, get set – go! Once you decide to drop the beloved binky, prepare for a few difficult days as breaking the habit can take time. You can help your daughter say goodbye to her pacifier by trying these parent-tested tactics. It’s important to remember that each child is different and requires unique ways of breaking the pacifier habit. Time, patience, and lots of love are required!
Try these binky tossing tips:
• Use the “Step Down Method.” Some children do better with a gradual approach to giving up their pacifier. First, limit daytime use and only give her the pacifier at nap time and nighttime. The idea is that step by step, eventually your child will agree to toss her beloved binky. “We ‘broke’ our daughter of pacifier use around age 1 by first cutting out it’s usage during the day,” says Jeanne Sager. “I found that night was the hardest, and for the sake of healthy sleep (for all involved) I let that one go a bit longer.” The step-down method can be implemented over weeks or months depending on how how your daughter reacts.
• Go cold turkey. Some parents swear by this tactic. While it is not for everybody, some children – despite your best efforts, simply will not budge on the issue of their pacifier. Lisa Neitzel recalls that her children gave up the pacifier ‘cold turkey’ around age 3. “We told them we would go to the toy store and they could pick out a toy and ‘pay’ for it with their bobby (aka pacifier),” she recalls. “For about 2 days afterward we received a few requests from them for their bobbies, but we were able to talk about…how they were big boys and didn’t need their bobbies anymore.” Other parents simply toss the pacifier and explain to their daughters that it’s gone for good. While this method may beget some foot stomping and crying, it does work for some children.
• Enlist your child’s help in the decision making process. Alethea Smock, mother of Annika (5) and Henderick (3) felt it was important for her children to feel as though “they are the ones giving up the paci and that it’s not being forced upon them.” Depending on the age of your daughter, you can reason with her and get her to help you decide what should happen to pacifier when it’s gone.
Jennifer Schroeder, mother of two children that were ‘impossible to get off the pacifier,’ found that her 4 year old daughter was willing to give up her binky when she felt included in the process. “We had a little ceremony and wrapped it [pacifier] up in a box that she decorated herself,” remembers Schroeder. The “Pappy Fairy” would then come pick up the box and take it to a baby who needed it. “She was sad,” says Schroeder, “but knowing she was helping another little girl somewhere in the world seemed to help.” As a special personal touch, Schroeder kept her daughter’s home made box with the pacifier inside to give back to her someday as a keepsake.
• Use a reward system. Use a “Lose the Paci” chart and let your daughter earn stickers for each night she goes without it. Stacey Baugh, found another creative way to reward her on her daughter’s 4th birthday. She took her daughter to Build-A-Bear Workshop, let her pick out a stuffed bear, and had her child’s pacifier sewn inside the bear as a keepsake. “She was able to sleep with that bear at night,” says Baugh. Baugh recalls it was difficult the first night, but then her daughter received comfort from knowing that her pacifier was still with her.
• Let them simply “run out.” Let your daughter know that when the pacifiers are all gone, they’re completely gone – you will not buy more to replace them.
• Change the pacifier’s shape and taste. Modifying the shape and sucking reflex of the pacifier can work wonders. “The best tip I ever heard was to cut off the bottom half of the nipple on the pacifier,” says Kirin Christianson. Christianson found that the damaged shape of the pacifier was no longer appealing to her 3 year old. “I’d get the pacifier out of the cabinet and say ‘Oh no! We must have little mice. They ate part of your pacifier!’” And though her toddler wasn’t thrilled with the idea of mice eating his beloved binky, he didn’t want it anymore and agreed to throw it away. Christianson notes that it’s important to cut off the entire bottom half of the nipple as cutting a small chunk did not dissuade her little darling.
For a less dramatic approach, parents can change the “sucking” capacity of the pacifier by poking a few tiny holes in the nipple. “The only way were able to get the pacifier away from our daughter was to cut a small hole into the nipple,” says Caryn FitzGerald. “She slowly (over the course of a few days) realized it didn’t taste the same. Each night we’d make the hole a bit larger and finally within a week she stopped chewing on it altogether.
Having a really hard time getting your child to let go of the pacifier? Get ultra creative! These parents used their noggins and came up with creative ways to help their children say goodbye for good!
Ultra Creative Parent Tips:
Bring out the Binky Fairy:
“I told my daughter that the Paci-Fairy visits kids who are ready to become “big kids.” When little kids are ready to take that leap, they put all their pacifiers under their pillow. While they are sleeping the Paci-Fairy comes, takes the pacifiers, and replaces them with a “Thank You” gift. The Paci-Fairy gives all the pacifiers to other babies who need them. It worked for us and my daughter loved the idea of the Thank You gift.” – Lora Shipman, Odessa, Fl.
Take advantage of holidays:
“I finally came up with the idea to give the pacifier collection to Santa. On Christmas Eve, my son set them out for Santa. The next day, the pacifiers were gone and he had the distraction of Christmas, visitors, and new toys. At nap time and bed time he asked for a pacifier, but since Santa had taken them, we were forced to go cold turkey. It only took a couple of days and my son was fine.” Lynette Mattke, Silver Spring, Md.
“We ‘scheduled’ a give up the pacifier party for July 4th and invite dour daughter’s friends. She gave her pacifier to a friend’s baby – and then our town had a parade to celebrate her accomplishment. She’s in college now, and her personal parade is still a favorite family story.” – Ilana Diamond, Oakmont, Pa.
“Having my daughter ‘give them to the Easter Bunny’ worked pretty well. She was 2 at the time and still remembers the experience pretty fondly!” – Dr. Sean Carton, Baltimore, Md.
Throw a Party for the Paci:
“Our doctor suggested that we have a pacifier ‘going away party.’ We brought the pacifier to Chuck E. Cheese’s and played a bunch of video games. At the end of our time there, we bought two special balloons, tied the last pacifier to the balloons, and let it go. Our son giggled with glee as he watched it fly off. We told him that it would find its way to a baby’s house that needed one and land on the lawn.” - Susan Vaillancourt, Hudson, NH.
Make it a Family Affair:
“I decided to have her pack up her pacifiers and send them off to her baby cousin. I told Claire, ‘Baby B. loves pacifiers, but he only has one. Can you pack yours up and send them to him? He would be so happy. And you are a big girl now, so you don’t need them anymore.’ She made a big deal of packing them in a little shoe box and we “sent” then off. (Actually, I gave them my sister.) Then my sister took a picture of Baby B. with the pacifiers spread around his crib. I printed the picture so she could show people. And she kept telling people: “I’m a big girl. I sent my binkies to my baby cousin.” I liked this approach because it was somewhat empowering to Claire. It was something she could be proud of.” – – Adrienne Hedger, San Clemente, California
The good news is that regardless of what method parent’s use, you can help your daughter let go of her beloved binky. Remember that the process of giving up her nighttime buddy can be painful and traumatic – especially if your child is extremely attached to it. “You’ll have some crying to get through, but be resolute – and don’t back down,” says Sekula, mother of three girls. “If you can get through the first night or two, you’ll get it done.”
In the meantime, it’s important for parents to provide plenty of love, patience, and consistency. One day your child will be grown and the pacifier will remain only a sweet memory.
- Pacifier vs. Thumb: The Great Debate.
- Teach Your Baby Girl to Sleep Through the Night
- Resolving Parental Preferences
- Potty Training 101 for Girls
- Sleeping Beauty: 11 Secrets to Your Baby’s Sleep Success