4 months. That’s the age at which our pediatrician told us Lucas should no longer be using a pacifier. It seemed early to us, and parents of older toddlers scoffed at the idea, but as luck would have it, Lucas just sort of stopped taking a pacifier around this age. But shortly after he broke his own habit, we started to sleep train, and ultimately we had to reintroduce his pacifier for naps and bedtime. This time, we decided to create some rules around when he would be able to use the pacifier and why, and ultimately, I think this is what helped us eventually break him of his dependency when he turned 18 months.
THE PACIFIER NEVER LEAVES THE NURSERY
We only ever gave him his pacifier when it was time to sleep. In this way, the pacifier became a sleep cue. This made naps and bedtime a lot easier, because he was excited to be able to spend some time with his lovey. Once he fell asleep, we would try as often as possible to gently take the pacifier from him.
ATTACHING A LOVEY TO THE PACIFIER
Speaking of loveys, Lucas used a Wubbanub, so there was always a soft furry friend attached to the end of his pacificer. Avent makes a similar model, and their lovey is detachable, so you can basically attach it to your favourite brand of pacifier. Having a lovey on the end of the pacifier made it easier to transition away, because we were able to detach (in our case cut off) the actual plastic nipple part, but he still got to keep his plush toy.
PRAISE PRAISE PRAISE
Any time Lucas fell asleep without his pacifier (or what we called dragon) we would praise the crap out of him. “Oh my goodness! What a big boy! You slept without your dragon! Good for you!” This excited him and instead of searching his crib for his lost dragon he would stretch his arms out to be hugged and lifted from his crib.
CUT. IT. OUT.
I didn’t try this, but this is what my mom did for me….put a small slice or pierce in the nipple of the pacifier to let the air out. If they can’t suck on the pacifier then it won’t provide the same comforts to them. When they ask or indicate that something is wrong, tell them the pacifiers are broken, or that they only work for babies.
Sometimes the hard way is the best way. You may suffer a few nights of interrupted sleep or skipped naps, but the results will come a lot quicker if you just throw all the pacifiers out. Try to replace with a stuffy or blankie for comfort, or plan to do a lot of rocking to sleep for a few nights.
I’m going to be honest, Lucas does not really get attached to things. When it was time to take his baby bottles away I literally just took them out of the cupboard while he was sleeping and put them in storage. He never batted an eye. Even with his pacifier, I did a lot of the things above but at the end of the day, he really didn’t put up a fight. It’s a blessing and a curse, because while he doesn’t develop dependencies he’s not the easiest to soothe. All of that is to say that none of the above is really aggressive in terms of weaning, and I did get ahead of it, as pediatricians recommend that children be 100% weaned by 2 years old.
Hopefully the above tips help you get your little one off the pacifier and self-soothing in no time.