5 Tips for Helping Your Toddler Ditch the Pacifier

5 Tips for Helping Your Toddler Ditch the Pacifier

Got a not-so-little one who won’t give up his binky? Try these expert tips.

By: Nicole Fabian-Weber

When you've got a crying or fussing baby on your hands, pacifiers can be a great thing -- for both mom and baby. But what happens when that baby turns into a toddler and he still wants his paci? When should you encourage him to kick the habit? And how? "Young babies use pacifiers for self-soothing, but by 1 year of age, there are other mechanisms for self-soothing so this is a great time to wean a baby," notes Dr. Jennifer Gardner, MD. "Beyond this age, I recommend weaning a child around the second birthday, when the risk of dental or speech problems from pacifier use increases."

Got a not-so-little one on your hands who refuses to ditch his binky? Consider these five tips for helping your toddler break his pacifier habit.

1. Go with what works for you . While your friend may have gotten her kid to stop using a pacifier via the cold turkey approach, that might not work for your child. "How you choose to wean your child from a pacifier is a parenting style issue more than a right or wrong issue," explains Gardner. "Many parents are more comfortable weaning the child over days or weeks, while others choose a cold turkey approach. What is most important is that the choice reflect what the parent is comfortable doing." In other words, keep in mind that there's no "right" way to lose the paci.

2. Tackle nighttime later. For many kids, bedtime and pacifiers go hand in hand. The thought of hitting the hay without a pacifier is likely far more upsetting for a child than being without it during the day. Many parents choose to tackle daytime pacifier use first, then move on to nighttime. Keep in mind, though, eventually you're going to have to bite the bullet. "While it's certainly acceptable to wean to nighttime use only, parents should be aware that no matter when or what method is used, there is likely to be a few days of transition (and crying) before the child is binky free," notes Gardner. "So this may just be delaying the inevitable!"

3. Sweeten the pot. The plain fact is all kids love presents. Many parents have had great success when they've had their kids leave their pacifiers for the "binky fairy," who in turn leaves a gift for them. Another approach is to tell your child that his doctor takes pacifiers from big kids in exchange for a toy, so the new babies can have the pacis. There's a good chance that your little one will be excited about his new toy, but keep in mind, there's also a good chance that once the novelty has worn off (which isn't long for a toddler), he may start asking for his pacifier again.

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4. Be consistent. As with all things parenting, consistency is crucial. Whatever method you choose, stick with it and you'll eventually see the fruits of your labor. It may be a bumpy road, but if you give in, you're going to be back at square one. "A good tactic is to remove all pacifiers from the house to avoid giving into late night or persistent cries," suggests Gardner.

5. Keep your cool. Getting your toddler to give up his pacifier (or anything, for that matter) isn't going to be easy. As any parent knows, 2-, 3-, and 4-year-olds can be extremely obstinate. Go into things knowing you've got your work cut out for you, and try to keep in mind that this too shall pass. Your child won't be heading off to college with a binky. Promise.

How did you get your child to ditch the pacifier?

Nicole Fabian-Weber is the mama to a sweet toddler girl and an equally sweet baby boy. She lives outside of NYC and writes for The Stir and numerous other online publications.

Image ©iStock.com/RosetteJordaan

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Great read! Good for baby #2

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