Tips and Tricks for Weaning Your Child (and Yourself!) Off a Pacifier
The time has finally come - you're ready to pull the plug...or rather, pull the pacifier. Yesterday we talked about the pros and cons of using a pacifier and today we're going to talk about some tips and tricks you can use when you're ready to get rid of it. Maybe you've gotten in too deep and your child is well over the recommended one year age that the The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Family Physicians both suggest they be weaned by. Maybe some of those cons are starting to become more apparent in your Little One. Or maybe you're just ready for those darn things to go. Either way, I can help!
First off - there are going to be tears. Some by you but most definitely by your child. Your child has become attached to a pacifier and they're probably not going to let it go without a fight. There might be some tantrums and there might be some restless nights but remember, you're doing this for the good it will bring in the long run - you don't want to have a 5 year old that still uses a binky (and believe me, I've SEEN 5 year olds that DO in fact use a binky and it's not good).
One option is to start limiting pacifier use to nap times and bedtimes and then solely bedtimes. If your child is old enough to understand, explain to them that it's simply time to get rid of the pacifier, that all big kids do this. State it as a fact, NOT an option. Feel free to replace a pacifier with a lovey - a small blanket or stuffed animal that can serve as a soothing tool instead of the pacifier.
Another great method I've seen have success with is the Pacifier Fairy. Explain to your child that the Pacifier Fairy will be coming to collect all their pacifiers in X amount of days, create an easy countdown with a small chart and some stickers, and when the day comes have your child gather all their pacifiers into a bag and lay them out by their bed for the PF. Make sure that the amount of days doesn't exceed a week. It's too easy to keep pushing the deadline when it's months away and that just confuses your child and makes it more difficult. Again, feel free to have the PF leave a small lovey in exchange for your child's pacifiers.
If fairies aren't your thing but you have a friend or family member with a small baby, tell your child that they'll be passing the pacifiers onto them. Again, create a chart, gather them up on the designated day, and have the family friends or family member over for a playdate. Before they leave, let your child present their pacifiers to the baby! Your child might really enjoy the act of giving, especially to a younger child. DISCLAIMER - DO NOT REALLY SHARE PACIFIERS! This is a symbolic gesture even if your child doesn't know that. Have the receiver of the pacifiers thank your Little One and take the pacifiers with them but they should promptly toss them upon arriving home.
Or simply make the chart, gather up the pacifiers, and have your kid toss 'em once and for all! They might get a lot of satisfaction in throwing them in the garbage can, dumpster, or even the bin right before the garbage truck comes in order to watch the truck "eat" their old pacifiers.
The move of limiting the pacifier to specific sleep times should be used in ALL of the above methods. Don't let your child overindulge just because they'll be getting rid of it soon! Start the week by limiting to nap times and bedtimes and then 2 or 3 days later, limit just to bedtimes. Feel free to mark that day on the calendar as well so your child knows it's coming.
Some tips on how to make the process go a little smoother. First, honor your child's loss. Tell them it's ok to be sad and cry or angry and hit their pillow but it's all part of growing and becoming a big kid. Secondly, stick to your intended date. I've seen several parents who keep pushing and pushing the date, all the while their child is getting more pacifier time outside of bedtime. Finally, encourage and praise your child! They're becoming a big kid and letting go of anything beloved is hard, no matter what age! You should let them know how proud you are that they're growing up so big and tell them you admire them for handling the situation like a pro.
It's going to be tough but I have faith in you AND your Little Ones. Don't get discouraged and don't give up! Once the pacifiers are gone, your child won't give them another thought and neither will you.
How did you help your child to finally let go of their pacifier? Was it easier or harder than you thought it would be?