Weaning your child from his pacifier can definitely be a tricky task. While some kids just give it up on their own (and if you are a parent of one of those kids then consider yourself lucky), other kids have a really hard time with it. Oral motor input is one of the most primitive ways humans soothe themselves, which is a big reason why eating, smoking, and biting your fingernails can be so addicting.
When babies are born, they are instinctively soothed by the nipple, the bottle, or the pacifier. And it’s important to remember that when it comes time to wean your child from the pacifier. It takes time for children to learn to self soothe. Just because you are removing the pacifier does not mean that your child is all of a sudden going to be able to self soothe. Therefore, replacement may be a huge part of the weaning process, unless, of course, your child has decided that it’s time for them to wean themselves
Stuffed animals, blankets, lovies, or a favorite toy can all be a good replacement to comfort your child. Follow their lead and see what they lean toward. Remember that it’s okay for your child to continue to use a comfort object, especially at bedtime. As they get older, they can learn what times of the day are appropriate for them to be used.
Here are a few strategies to help your child through the weaning process:
- As discussed above, allow your child to pick out a blanket or stuffed animal to use as a replacement of their pacifier. Or be sure that their favorite animals or lovies are accessible.
- Try going cold turkey, always having your child’s replacement objects available.
- Cut down by having your child only use the pacifier at night or at nap time. Be sure to have your child place the pacifier in a special place beside the bed as soon as they get up. This is the strategy we are currently using with our son!
- Simply put a small hole in the pacifier using a pin. This changes the way the pacifier feels in their mouth and makes it less satisfying. Some kids will simply get rid of it themselves after you do this.
- Gather all the pacifiers in the house and have your child leave them for the pacifier fairy, who can leave a toy in its place. Since its that time of the year, you could also have your child leave their pacifiers for Santa to take to the babies who don’t have pacifiers on their own.
- Use the reward strategy by allowing your child to pick from a prize box (made up of $1 prizes) if they are able to go all day or all night without their pacifier. If you need extra motivation, they can pick the toy in the morning and then keep the toy in sight so that they are able to see what they are working toward throughout the day.
- For other strategies you can check out this article from GoNannies.com.
You can also give your child other means of oral motor input during the day by using a straw and choosing chewy foods.
The biggest thing is to remember to be patient with your child. You child has been using her pacifier to comfort herself for some time now. She may not be able to fall asleep as quickly. Be patient. Create a new night time routine with books, other comfort items, and/or songs!