When To Get Rid Of The Pacifier?
Many children use the pacifier to soothe themselves to sleep and end up keeping it around for a while. Parents then come to me and ask, when do we get rid of the pacifier?
I’ll start off by saying that if your child does take to the pacifier, it’s not necessarily a “bad” thing. For those first few months, the sucking sensation for newborns is calming and soothing, and crucial for a newborn. More importantly, the AAP has said that pacifiers are known to reduce the risk of SIDS. Once they know how to re-plug themselves (at around 9 months), they can do it often during the day and at night, and no longer depend on you.
So when’s the ideal time to get rid of the paci?
Before beginning sleep training, I often tell my Clients they have a choice to keep or remove the pacifier. If your child is 9 months or younger, it is OK to proceed with the sleep training without the pacifier. Once your child is 12 months or older, I don’t recommend removing the pacifier as they have already created a dependency on it.
I usually recommend getting rid of the paci once your child is older, closer to age 3. At this point you can have a conversation with your child to explain what is going to happen, and chances are she’ll understand.
Getting rid of the paci
- When you are going to get rid of the pacifier, make sure you don’t do it at the same time a new sibling has been born, you’ve moved, or any major change in your child’s life.
- If your child is one to have the binky with her all day, you can start limiting it to sleep only and leaving it inside the crib. Once she awakes from naps or in the morning, the pacifier must stay inside the crib.
- Make sure to have a conversation with your child to explain how big girls no longer use the paci. Perhaps have your child visit the dentist so he can explain it to her. Make sure to have these conversations a few days before beginning, so as to prep her.
- You can read some books that address this topic. A few suggestions are: Bea Gives Up Her Pacifier by Jenny Album, Little Bunny’s Pacifier Plan by Maribeth Boelts, or Goodbye Binky: The Pacifier Fairy Story by Sinead Condon.
- After having the conversation and reading some books, you can then sit with your child and decide what she’d like to do with it. She can “give it away” to a baby who needs it, trade it in for a special toy from the paci fairy, or even put it inside a special stuffed bear (like Build a Bear) and then she’ll always have it with her.
Whenever you do decide to remove the pacifier, just be prepared for a few rough nights. Make a plan and stick to it consistently. Try your best not to go back and stick to it for a few days. Good luck!