Lots of parents face the dilemma of what to do when it’s time to get rid of the pacifier (dummy, soother or whatever you call it in your house).
While some parents are really lucky and have a toddler that stops using their pacifier on their own, many don’t have that luxury and need to initiate the process for their child.
Lots of parents put it off, thinking that removing it will cause more stress and so they make excuses to let them continue using it. This makes the child more and more dependent on using it – making it more stressful to remove in the long run.
Why do you need to stop using a pacifier at a certain point?
-By age 4, using a pacifier can cause dental issues for your child (it encourages their teeth to grow in the wrong spots)
-Children need to learn other strategies for comforting themselves – as sometimes a pacifier won’t be there
-Using a pacifier too much in the first year can stop a child from babbling and exploring sounds because there is something in their mouth stopping them from making noise
-Using a pacifier for long periods without a break can harbour ear infections by enabling bacteria to move from the mouth into the tubes between the ears
Here are my top tips for banishing the pacifier without pulling your hair out:
-The easiest trick in the book – cut a small hole in the top of the pacifier. This will change the sensation of sucking on it for your child as it won’t have the same suction. As your child realises it isn’t the same, let them know it’s broken so needs to be thrown away (make sure you have done this for all spares as well). Children lose interest quickly when something is broken.
-Have a container for pacifiers next to your child’s cot, every morning, encourage them to put the pacifier in the container, building an association that it’s only used for sleep. This will make it easier to eventually stop altogether.
-Have a magical creature that collects their pacifier and leaves a treat instead (there are lots of versions around for this tip, a pacifier fairy, planting it in the garden and a flower appearing overnight, sending them in the post to new babies etc)
-Put pacifiers in hard to reach spots, this stops you from automatically handing it to your child out of frustration or exhaustion.
-Go and choose a special alternative to their pacifier, a special blanket or soft toy that they can rely on instead
-Create a new night time tradition that doesn’t focus on using a pacifier.
-Try reward or sticker charts for every time your child chooses not to use their pacifier
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