I’m a pacifier mom. Loud and proud. When I was a new mom I debated whether to give my first-born son Kieran the pacifier when he was eight weeks old. My lactation consultant told me that I could choose to give him either a pacifier or my breast to soothe him. I chose the former since the latter meant he would use my nipple as his pacifier. From that moment on, Kieran loved his pacifier and needed it to fall asleep. His pacifier dependency lasted until he was three years old. The pacifier works as a great soother. However they are a challenge to wean your child off of them.
Our problems intensified when the pacifier started falling out of Kieran’s mouth when he was asleep. He would wake up and cry until it was put back in. This was the beginning of a very bad habit I enabled. Since we were co-sleeping, I would just pop it back in his mouth every time he woke (which was every 2-3 hours). I did not sleep properly for almost two years! What I was doing was making Kieran think he could not self-soothe himself back to sleep since I was always there placing the pacifier back in his mouth. This was my big mistake!
Kieran finally agreed to give up the pacifier when he was 3 years old. I had tried to wean him earlier however he was unwilling and unable to understand why he needed to. At the age of 3 he had the level of comprehension necessary for me to reason (a little) with him and make him understand that pacifiers were for babies. Although we had a bit of an challenging time giving up the pacifier it was worth it. I gave the pacifier to my second son Kalon and will probably be giving it to my daughter when she is born too.
If you are having issues with your child about giving up the pacifier I would say that if you can, wait it out. It’s not the end of the world that your child is attached to a pacifier. And it is a rarity that they will be 6 years old and still want the pacifier. My philosophy is that the pacifier is much better (and an easier habit to break) than your child’s thumb.