How do you know it's time for your baby to kick the pacifier habit? And how do you do it so that she's not screaming her lungs out every time you take it away? If your baby's addicted to the paci, it can be difficult to make her stop, but not impossible. Here are a few tips on how to wean your little one off the pacifier for good:
Early is easy. The earlier you take it away, the easier it will be, not to mention the less crying you'll have to deal with since she's too young to really express herself or remember what it is she's missing (out of sight, out of mind). It's best to wait until she's reached four months, so she gets the full benefits of the pacifier, which include:
- Helps reduce the risk of SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
- Improves sleep and reduces crying
- Helps breastfeeding
- Leads to more saliva production, which is a natural antacid
Use sleep cues. Make sure you're giving her sleep cues so that she knows it's time for bed. Bringing her into a dark room at a consistent time, with white noise or a lullaby to help her fall asleep on her own.
Cut down. Slowly cut down her use of the pacifier during the day. Distract her with lots of playtime or short walks outside so she doesn't even miss her beloved "binky." Do this until she stops using the pacifier in the day altogether.
Introduce a "lovey." A lovey is basically anything your child uses for security. This could be a stuffed animal, a blanket, or a burping cloth. A lovey can provide the comfort and security that she derived from the pacifier. It can serve as an effective sleep trigger which are essential especially during long car rides.
Too old? Don't stress out because you waited too long to kick the habit. If she's over four months or even over a year old, it can still be done, albeit with a lot more kicking and screaming. Here are some tips for the toddler who still can't let go:
- Trade up. Tell her she can get a new toy if she gives up her pacifier.
- Invoke the help of the Pacifier Fairy. Move over, Tooth Fairy. Tell her that new babies are born each day and that they too need a pacifier. The Pacifier Fairy will come to collect them and give them out to newborns. It'll make her feel like she's a "big girl" helping out.
- Snip it. Snipping the tip of a pacifier removes the ability to suck, which may help her eventually lose interest. Just be sure there are no pacifier pieces still stuck in there as this could be a choking hazard.
- Lose it. If all else fails, just pretend to lose it. Sooner or later, she'll forget about it and move on to the next new distraction.