How to Wean Off a Pacifier
Whether you call it a pacifier, a binky or a nuk – one thing is certain, it can be difficult to wean your toddler off of it. I’ve had six kids with another on the way, and I’ve learned a few tricks that help in the process of moving your child away from the pacifier.
Walk a While in Their Shoes: Simply taking away the pacifier without giving the situation the thought it deserves is not the right strategy. Take a moment to walk around in your child’s shoes. The pacifier is a comfort item; it brings security while they fall asleep and helps them soothe when something goes wrong. An important thought for me was determining what was triggering the need for a pacifier, then, establishing a plan of action for gently removing the pacifer from the situation.
Find a Suitable Big Kid “Pacifier”: In order to move beyond the pacifier, your child might need to replace it with a more suitable comfort item. Take your child to the store to pick out a new “pacifier” in the form of a stuffed animal, a doll or a blanket. Whatever it may be, make sure it’s an item that they can hold onto during times when they need soothing comfort. Once you begin this transition you can start to teach your child how to ultimately self soothe and not to be reliant upon any one object for comfort – it takes time to learn how to self soothe though, so be patient with your child and take things one day at a time.
Develop a New Routine: A lot of children rely on their pacifier when they’re crying or when they’re trying to go to sleep. Developing a new routine can help phase out the pacifier by instilling new habits. You have to start small and be consistent in this. If your child starts crying bend down to their level and ask them what’s wrong in a soothing tone. It often works if you hug or cradle your child for a few moments while singing them a song before transitioning them into another activity. At bedtime, give your child a stuffed animal or a small blanket instead of a pacifier. If you do this repeatedly they won’t expect their pacifier any longer, but the transition can be a bit tricky.
Talk to Your Child: Many of you know I firmly believe in talking openly with your children. Keep them in the loop, so they know exactly what to expect. If you’re weaning a toddler off a pacifier, talking to them could be beneficial. Most toddlers reach a point where they believe they are “big kids”, and if you establish that big kids don’t use pacifiers your child may be more inclined to help you through the process.
Weaning a child from using a pacifier isn’t always easy, and it can take time. Be patient with your child and help in easing them through this difficult transition.