Inside: Stressed about pacifier weaning? Find the perfect strategy, tools, and tips to help your child ditch the binky. You can do hard things!
I watched as he confidently climbed the play tower, carefully toeing each rock ledge as he planned his way to the top.
His eyes were determined, his blonde head bent down toward his feet, then popped up again as he eyed his goal. Every step was calculated, designed to get him to the summit.
He did it! There he was, determined conqueror of that play ground fort. But that afternoon he conquered so much more than a rock wall or a play ground tower.
Self-doubt, worry, old habits. All those were conquered, too.
As I hugged him in celebration, I reminded him of a phrase he’s heard repeated for years. “I’m so proud of you! You can do hard things.”
Sure, in the preschool years, those “hard things” look like making new friends, learning to read, or tying shoes.
As the years go on, those “hard things” get a little more difficult. Juggling responsibilities, choosing a career, and starting a family take center stage.
But let’s rewind to those baby years. Babies can do hard things too!
They learn how to roll over. They practice going to sleep on their own.
And mama, they can learn to live without a pacifier.
Pacifier weaning is one of those tiny “hard things” that just seems impossible. That is, until it’s done!
This is your ultimate guide to tackling that one “hard thing.” Read on to find your game plan for choosing the perfect pacifier weaning strategy for your family!
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When is the best age to wean from pacifiers?
Is there a certain age that is best for weaning from the binky? With my kids, I’ve found that before 12 or 18 months is the perfect time to wean from a pacifier. Why before 12-18 months?
- Children begin to develop more intense wills and emotions around 18 months. It’s much easier to tackle this big habit change before that strong toddler will kicks in!
- Before 12 months, babies won’t develop as strong an attachment to a pacifier. It is much easier to distract a baby than a toddler.
In general, the earlier you wean from the pacifier, the easier it will be!
With my firstborn, we weaned from the pacifier when he was about seven months old. Oddly enough, he caught a cold and couldn’t hold the binky in his mouth. We went cold turkey and he never missed it!
But wait… is your child past the 12-18 month mark? Has he already developed a strong will and an even stronger attachment to his binky?
With my daughter, we took away the binky around 15 months old. This time around was a much bigger battle for sure! She loved that paci dearly, but I knew it was time because she had started to wake up at night crying if her pacifier was missing.
We ended up going cold turkey with my daughter. It was rough to be honest. But I knew she was capable! In three days she was a no-binky champ!
Don’t fear! You can do hard things, mama.
And you know what? Your child can do hard things, too.
Ready to tackle pacifier weaning with confidence? Let’s take a look at which pacifier weaning method is the best fit for you.
Gradual Pacifier Weaning
Looking for a more gentle way of weaning off the binky? You’ll want to try one of these gradual approaches. This is best for mamas who are willing to spend more time weaning from the pacifier.
- Your child is less likely to cry and protest.
- With older children, you can communicate the process along the way.
- It may be easier to get caregivers on board.
- It could be more costly if you purchase a pacifier weaning system.
- Gradual weaning can be confusing for the child. Not knowing what to expect may lead to prolonged attachment to the pacifier.
Gradual Option #1: Decrease Time
The first method of gradual pacifier weaning is to decrease the time your child uses the binky.
Try this snowball strategy. You’ll move from easiest to hardest time periods. I would recommend that you spend no longer than 2-3 days on each stage.
Pacifier Weaning Snowball Strategy
- Remove the pacifier during playtime and awake time during your child’s happiest period of the day. For my kids, they’re more easy going in the morning. Tackle this first to gain momentum.
- Limit pacifier use during all awake times. This includes those tricky evening hours.
- Remove the pacifier during your child’s easiest nap. Which nap is normally the least difficult? Offer a lovey instead.
- Remove the pacifier during all daytime naps. You’re almost there. Keep going!
- And finally, remove the pacifier for bedtime and night time sleep. If your child protests, use the sleep wave check-in method to help soothe him.
Gradual Option #2: Decrease Sensation
Many moms have also had success by using a pacifier weaning system. This method gradually decreases the length of the binky so that the child eventually becomes accustomed to not sucking for comfort.
You’ll be decreasing the sensation that comes when your child uses a binky.
Try these pacifier alternatives to gradually decrease the sensation associated with using a pacifier.
- Ditch the Dummy One Step Pacifier Weaning System: A small hole in the tip reduces the sensation and makes the pacifier unsatisfying for the child.
- Lily Method Pacifier Weaning System: This kit provides 5 pacifiers which gradually reduce the length of each tip.
Cold Turkey Pacifier Weaning
For babies under 12 months, going cold turkey is likely the best strategy. Younger babies won’t have the strong paci attachment that toddlers will.
You can also use this method for older babies and toddlers. But be warned, you’ll need to be prepared for a few rough days!
I used the cold turkey strategy with my daughter when she was about 15 months old. While it was difficult for a few days, it was also such a relief to be completely done with the pacifier!
I knew her personality, and realized that it would essentially be easier for her to cut ties rather than be confused by the gradual method.
This Paci Weaning Kit is perfect for the cold turkey method. It even contains a little box to let your child mail off the old binky!
Here’s your cold turkey pacifier weaning game plan:
- One week beforehand: Nail down a solid bedtime routine. Put your child down sleepy but still awake with the pacifier. Provide a lovey to let your little one get accustomed to a new way of soothing. Start talking about the way that big girls and big boys sleep without a pacifier.
- Day 1: Take the pacifier away during all awake and asleep times. If your child fusses, try distracting him with books or games. For older toddlers, try reading books that encourage pacifier weaning.
- Day 2+ Stick to it like glue. If your child cries at naps and bedtime, try the sleep wave method of check-ins. I love this sleep training tip from The Happy Sleeper book to provide firm limits yet lots of love at the same time during sleep training.
- There’s a shorter transition time to no pacifier. You’ll be done in a weekend!
- It helps avoid some of the whining phase that comes with gradual weaning.
- Cold turkey weaning prevents confusion. Your child won’t be left wondering if he might randomly get back his binky. So he’ll likely stop asking for it more quickly!
- It may be less costly than buying pacifier weaning systems.
- Children will most likely react more strongly to this method. Be prepared to stand your ground!
Which Pacifier Weaning Strategy is Right for You?
Which method will you use to wean your child off the pacifier?
Are you up for the cold turkey approach? Or would you rather take it slow with a gradual method?
Regardless of which strategy you use, remember these general tips:
- Stay consistent. If you make the decision to start weaning, just keep moving forward. Going back and forth from pacifier to no pacifier will only make the transition more difficult in the future.
- Give your child a lovey to help her self-soothe. My daughter loved her sweet “Lamby” Taggies lovey.
- Offer lots of hugs and extra time together when you’re weaning from the pacifier. Just don’t start any bad bedtime habits you’ll have to break later!
Is weaning from a pacifier one of those “hard things?” Yes, but you can do it!
Remember that you’ve got your child’s best interest in mind. You’re a great mom. Weaning from the pacifier is just one baby step toward raising a healthy, independent adult.
You can do hard things. Your child can do hard things. Together you can do anything!
As we walked home from the park that day, I couldn’t help but think back over my son’s life. Look at all the hard things he’s accomplished already! Hey, look at all the hard things I’ve conquered as a mom.
I squeezed him a little tighter and whispered, more to myself than to him…
“Oh yeah, We can do hard things.”
Are you ready to start pacifier weaning? Let us know in the comments!
What’s the most difficult part about no more binky? Which strategy are you going to use to tackle this “hard thing”with your baby or toddler?