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Tips On How To Ditch The Pacifier

Written by James Kicinski-McCoy

Photography by Photo via IMGKID

Pacifiers come with pros and cons. For some parents using a “paci” can be a life-saver when it comes to calming their babies and keeping peace and quiet in their homes. Many swear the binky is like magic because it soothes and quiets a crying baby in an instant. There are also studies showing that pacifiers have been linked with the decrease in SIDS and may prevent tooth decay. On the other hand, the oral tool can can become an addiction, can cause nipple confusion while breastfeeding, and can lead to sleep problems in children who have depended on suckling themselves to sleep since birth. Whether you are on team paci or not, for those who have chosen to use one, there may be an uphill battle ahead when it comes to getting your kid to kick the habit. We’re hoping to make it a little easier on you both. With a little patience, determination, and our ten tips and tricks below, you will be on the road to ditching the pacifier for good!

Slow and Steady. As early as 3 months, try taking the pacifier away a little at a time. Doctors claim that taking it away sooner rather than later is the most effective strategy and can help make the transition smoother. Babies that are too young to negotiate words and express indignation are more likely to forget about the pacifier all together.

Go Cold Turkey. Just like any dependency, it can be tremendously hard to let go of something in gradual steps. Sometimes it’s best to “rip off the bandaid” instead of peeling it away slowly. If you have the power to say “no” and mean it, do it.

Limit Pacifier Time. Instead of letting your child take the paci outside the home, limit it to only be used inside of the house. When kept busy, your kid will find that he or she has fun doing other things outside and doesn’t need the binky. From there, try limiting the paci to just sleep time. Slowly, the child will realize that he or she wants to play with toys indoors, too, more than have the pacifier.

Use Imagination. Believe it or not, some mommies teach their child about the Binky Fairy to help with the transition. Just like Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy, The Binky Fairy comes during the night and replaces the binky with a treat. Keep your toddler excited about the exchange and have him or her write the fairy a thank you note! There’s actually a book to help, called Goodbye Binky: The Binky Fairy Story.

Encouragement. Have a talk with your kiddo and tell him or her that he or she is close to becoming a “big kid.” Kids find pride in growing up and look forward to proving that they are becoming big boys and girls. Explain ahead of time that when he or she turns a certain age, the pacifier must go because “big kids don’t need binkies.” You can start 3 days leading up to finally getting rid of the paci and count down together each day. It will help your child prepare and actually be excited for the change.

Give It Away. Tell your toddler that there are babies in the world that aren’t as fortunate and don’t have a binky of their own. Explain that he or she can help by donating the binky to a baby in need. Most children grasp the concept and will want to help you donate. Make sure to praise their efforts and let them know how proud you are!

Make It Taste Bad. You may have heard about nail-biters who paint their nails with something that doesn’t taste good in order to stop themselves from biting. You can use this same method with the pacifier (with something that is safe for consumption, of course). Speak with a pharmacist or your baby’s doctor about getting a baby-safe solution that will give the pacifier an unpleasant taste. You could also try dipping it in something bitter or unappealing to kids, like lemon juice, lime juice, salt, or pepper. Your kid will associate the terrible taste with the pacifier and start to refuse it.

Cut it. Another way to secretly want your kid to give up the pacifier is to gradually cut off a tiny bit of the tip. Try cutting 1/3 of an inch off each day. Once the tip is short enough, your toddler will decide that it’s not worth the effort and will want to give it up on their own.

Trade. Let your little one know that he or she is now a “big kid” and that they can trade their pacifier in for a special toy. Take your kiddo to the store and let him or her pick out a toy that is fair for the trade. He or she will be so excited for a new toy and will be more than willing to trade.

Lose it. If you are in utter chaos, looking for a lost binky—stop looking. Let this be your chance to ditch the pacifier. Explain to your child that the paci went missing and use distractions to keep her mind off of it. After a couple of days she will most likely realize that she doesn’t need it and forget about the pacifier all together.

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