For many centuries, parents have been using pacifiers to help soothe and calm cranky infants and toddlers. Some children readily give up their pacifiers when they become toddlers; other children refuse to part with their pacifers and need some encouragement to do so.
A pacifier habit can affect your toddler’s language development and also his teeth! Some doctor’s feel that prolonged use of a pacifier can contribute to ear infections as well. Because of this, it is good to end your child’s pacifier habit as soon as possible. How exactly do you do this if your child really enjoys his pacifier?
Reduce The Amount of Daily Use
Slowly weaning your child off the pacifier works best. To do this, just gradually reduce the amount of time that your child uses a pacifier.
For example, when you are feeding your child, put the pacifier away out of sight. When you are done feeding your child, don’t automatically put the pacifier in your child’s mouth. Eventually, you should be able to reduce use to only around nap and bedtime.
Handle The Tantrums As They Happen
I have to admit it: sometimes I think that parents encourage children to continue a pacifier habit because it makes life a little bit easier. It’s a lot easier to calm a child down with a pacifier than to actually work on diffusing temper tantrums in other ways.
My second child was VERY strong willed. She also has autism. It was very easy to use a pacifier to calm her down during her many tantrums or when she whined simply because it worked. However, I began to realize that I had to find other ways to help her learn to handle her stress and frustrations. She surely couldn’t use a pacifier the rest of her life!
I’ve known parents who simply could not break the pacifier habit by the above methods. These parents had to resort to “sneaky” methods. One parent cut the end off of the pacifier. Her child didn’t like the “new” pacifier and so she broke herself of the habit.
If you are going to use this method, be sure that you make a clean cut. If any pieces of the nipple are hanging, it could be a choking hazard. Inspect the pacifier regularly to make sure that it’s still safe for your child to use.
I knew another parent who bought a flavoring at the pharmacy that was used to stop thumb sucking. She painted it on the pacifier and it worked!
Another parent I know asked her child to donate her pacifiers to the “pacifier fairy” so she could give them to other children who didn’t have any pacifiers. The child collected her pacifiers and together the mom and child put the pacifiers in a basket next to the child’s bed. That night, the “pacifier fairy” came and took the pacifiers. She left a beautiful new doll for the child and a thank you note!
How have you helped your child give up her pacifier? Please post with your suggestions!