When and How to Stop Pacifier Use

A pacifier is an amazing tool that helps soothe babies. The simple and natural act of sucking helps lower their heart rate and stress level. After shots and blood tests, pacifiers can help calm them and reduce crying. They are useful for parents and beneficial for babies. Parents often have to put up with that nagging voice in their heads that tells them it’s time to break their baby’s habit. When is the best time to stop pacifier use, anyway? How do you do it? We’ve gathered some key information and useful tips about why, how, and when to stop the use of a pacifier.

Does Pacifier Use Cause Damage to a Baby’s or Toddler’s Teeth?

According to leading pediatric dentists, there are both risks and advantages to pacifier use. Some research suggests using a pacifier may help reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, or SIDS. Unless a child is still using a pacifier when permanent teeth come in, it’s generally considered safe. Not all pacifier use causes problems. It is important to know when it’s time to break your child’s habit.

When to Take Away a Child’s Pacifier

For many parents, there isn’t a rush to get rid of a pacifier. It can provide emotional support for babies and toddlers. Most parents find pacifiers helpful for falling asleep at night. During the daytime, they can help relieve stress for little ones, especially if they are sick, traveling to a new place, or starting daycare. But as a toddler gets closer to 18 months of age, it starts making sense to reduce their pacifier use. It is usually a good time to restrict its use to bedtime and other stressful situations.

However, if an infant has frequent ear infections, it’s not uncommon for pediatricians to suggest moving away from a pacifier. It’s a good time to move over to another source of security and support. A soft blanket, lovey, or stuffed animal may be substituted for a pacifier. Hard sucking can change the pressure inside the ears, which can lead to infections.

Easiest Time to Take Away a Pacifier

For most babies, the easiest time to wean from the pacifier is around 6 or 7 months of age. At this early time in their development, they haven’t yet developed an emotional attachment to items. Unless a pediatrician recommends stopping its use, it’s generally okay to allow it to continue up to about 9 months. After a baby reaches 9 months of age, they start to develop emotional attachments. This is a great time to introduce a lovey or blanket to them.

There’s no hard, fast rule for when it’s best or easiest to take away a paci. Just be aware that if you wait until after your baby is 9 months old, they may have developed an emotional attachment. This can make the process more difficult. That in no way indicates you need to rush your baby to give up their pacifier. But you’ll need to be ready to deal with their protests.

How to Wean Your Little One Off the Pacifier

Weaning your little one off the paci can be a big decision. You may be tired of picking it up when your toddler tosses it out of the crib. Maybe you don’t want your baby to have to deal with ear infections. Perhaps you are simply ready to get rid of it. Here are some tips to help you get the job done.

Little Biscuit Lovey

Tips for Weaning a Baby from a Pacifier

If your baby is 6 to 7 months of age and you’re ready to wean them from the pacifier, taking small steps can ease the transition. The first step is to limit its use to only naps and nighttime. So, if you notice your little one trying to suck on their fingers or other items, try inserting another type of stimulation, such as a lovey.

You may find that using white noise can help them sleep. It can be a great replacement for sucking as a sleep cue. White noise should be continuous. A device or app can be used to play monotonous, low-pitch sounds.

Tips for Weaning a Toddler from a Pacifier

Weaning your toddler from a paci can be a little more complicated. The older they are, the more attached they’ve become. Here are a few tips to help toddlers say “bye” to a pacifier.

  • Limit Its Use. If your toddler is used to mindlessly sucking on their paci all day, start by making it clear that it will be only for bedtime. You may also allow its use when your toddler is stressed and needs to be calmed.
  • Determine “pacifier-free” times. Start by setting some limits on pacifier use. When your toddler reaches for their paci, explain it’s not paci-time. To begin with, make paci-free time just 30 minutes. Use a timer so your toddler won’t keep bugging you about it. Gently explain that they must wait until the timer dings to have it again. Encourage them to read a book, watch a movie, or play with their toys while they are waiting for the “ding.” Gradually increase the amount of paci-free time.
  • Introduce a Lovey. Encourage your little one to start using a lovey, stuffed animal, silky scarf, or blankie.
  • “Gossip” about Your Toddler’s Progress. Whisper praise and compliments to their stuffed animals about how well they are doing without a pacifier.

Try to stay positive without being too excited. Some kids may simply not be ready. They may decide they don’t want to “be a big boy.” Don’t make them feel like a failure; just gently keep nudging them toward success.

It can Take Time

If you feel social pressure to push your child to get rid of the pacifier, but you know they are not ready, just breathe. In some traditional cultures, children are breastfed until four years of age. Secondly, some kids have a strong drive and quickly become attached to a soothing object. That may be a teddy, a thumb, or a security blanket. Thirdly, it may sound silly, but your toddler’s pacifier may be considered a “friend.” Go easy and remind yourself you’ve never seen anyone go to college and take their pacifier!

 Let a Lovey from Little Biscuits Help with the Transition

If you are looking for a lovey to help your toddler or baby ease through the transition, check out the Little Biscuit lovey. It’s made from bamboo, so it’s soft against your baby’s skin. They’ll want to snuggle with this soft, delicate lovey!