Ditching the Pacifier

We all have those cute little names for a pacifier- paci, binkie, nookie, soothie, the list goes on and on. While pacifiers are great when they do their job of calming a crying baby; they are not so great when you have to wean the child off of them.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies use pacifiers for the first six months as it reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). The pacifier encourages the baby to suck which naturally keeps the child inhaling and exhaling while they are sleeping. After six months, the risk of SIDS is very low and the pacifier is no longer required.

So how and when do you go about ditching the paci? Six months is actually a good time to do so. Your baby is probably getting in to his or her sleep groove and beginning to develop solid self soothing methods. Taking away the pacifier now will allow them to learn how to calm themselves on their own. While it might be a rough few days, many babies adjust extremely quickly. They are still small enough to be picked up and rocked and you can give them some extra snuggles during the transition.

If your child is around 9 months, now is not the right time to wean off the pacifier. By this age, your baby is probably very attached to his or her pacifier. 9 months is when children experience one of the biggest, if not the single biggest, bout of separation anxiety. They are learning that they are a separate being from their parents. Your baby may get anxious and cry when you leave the room or whine and purposely annoy you if they do not have your full attention. Because they are going through this major separation milestone, you should not take away something that will bring them a source of comfort at this time.

Once the separation anxiety fades until about 16 months is another good opportunity to lose the pacifier. This will be harder than weaning a baby because your child is older, more aware, and likely more vocal. However, this is also the age where they are more understanding and can be calmed by your words fairly easily.

Around 18 months is another emotional milestone- the desire for independence. Your child is making the transition into full blown toddlerhood and seeking self sufficiency. However, along with the independence comes the longing to continue soothing themselves in the manner they have been. And if that's with a pacifier, they will be more determined than ever to keep it that way. Taking away their soothing mechanism at this age will prolong this emotional stage.

Try to find a time when your child seems content and is not going through any milestones. The best method is to take the pacifier away cold turkey. If your child knows there is even a chance they can get it back, it will be a very long, exhausting process full of games and bribes. Do yourself a favor and actually remove the pacis from the house when you decide to. You don't want to be dumpster diving in your kitchen at 2am when you're too tired to deal with it. Once the first night or two are over, it should get better from there. The younger you wean off the pacifier, the easier it will be.