When Should You Stop Giving a Baby a Pacifier?

Most new parents are at a crossroads when it comes to making the decision on when to stop giving their baby a pacifier. While pacifiers can be soothing for the baby, they can also cause dental problems and it is important to know when stop. Just how can you rid your child of the pacifier? Well, you will soon learn a few tried and tested methods that can help.

Children are different; some easily accept that the pacifier is no longer a part of their life while others need to be carefully weaned off the pacifier. Sometimes, you may even need to reward the child for letting go of the pacifier. Today, we have great methods that you can use to get rid of the pacifier.

When Should You Stop Giving a Baby a Pacifier?


Speech experts and pediatricians recommend letting go of the pacifier at 12 months. That said; there are children who have been known to use their pacifier well past 12 months and even into their toddler and preschool stage. In these cases, the pacifier is more like a transitional object which helps them adjust to challenges and new situations. It also helps relieve stress and could be a comfort piece. You could let the child hold onto the pacifier much longer as they try to develop other ways of coping with new situations.

Why? (Detriments of not giving up)

The timing is important and a pacifier could negatively affect your child’s speech. The reason why many pediatricians and speech therapists recommend 12 months as the stopping point is because this is the time when your child is undergoing speech development. If your child constantly has a pacifier in their mouth, they are less likely to practice speaking and even worse the pacifier could distort their speech. Pacifiers keep the child’s mouth in a position that is not natural and this makes it difficult for the lip and tongue muscles to develop normally.

Pacifiers can also push forth the tongue and lead to a lisp. Although there is no evidence pertaining to pacifiers as far as permanent damage to the teeth is concerned, they could also force forward the upper set of teeth. Your child also may become dependent on the pacifier to sleep and getting rid of it can help the child learn to sleep on their own. Last but not least, getting rid of the pacifier could provide some ear relief especially if your child is prone to getting ear infections.

How to Wean Your Baby off a Pacifier?

1. The Gradual Way

You need to strategize on the timing and you may want to try removing the pacifier in relaxed settings such as when the child is playing. You can also try to remove the pacifier when the child is home and gradually eliminate its use in outdoor settings as well. Take advantage of the holidays or trips to the dentist by telling your child that the pacifier needs to be donated in exchange for a better toy. Rewards always help to smooth the transition. Expect some resistance.

2. The Three Day Plan

According to the author of Pacifiers, Blankets, Bottles and Thumbs, Mark L. Brenner; there is a three day plan that one can use to eliminate the pacifier.

Day 1

Prepare your child psychologically by telling her that she needs to let go of certain items as she grows older. It’s best to have this talk in the morning when she wakes up and at bedtime. Keep the conversation short so that it doesn’t sound as though you are seeking her approval. Giving your child a three day notice does not necessarily make them anxious but instead prepares them for the change.

Day 2

Repeat the same talk you had and again keep it short. Keep a firm yet gentle tone. Remind her of the three day plan and point out that ‘tomorrow’ she needs to let go of the pacifier.

Day 3

It’s the big day and you need to gather up all the pacifiers. Ask your child to help you and if you face any resistance, proceed to collect all the pacifiers. You don’t need to be too harsh; you can instead create a reassuring story. For example, you can explain that the pacifiers will be recycled to create new toys. Of course, this is not a smooth process and you may have to deal with a meltdown. While you can be empathetic, remain firm.

3. Make It Taste Bad

You can make the pacifier a turn off by making it taste it unpleasant. This will turn off the child and make them associate the pacifier with the unpleasant taste. Below is the experience of one mom:

“We tried using various approaches with my son but he still insisted on sucking his pacifier. We couldn’t handle the tantrums so we just let him be. When the pediatrician advised that we try and rub the pacifier with something that tastes bad, we did not think it would work. Nonetheless, this worked perfect and my son threw his pacifier away. He didn’t even try to clean it.” ---Megan.

4. Sabotage It

Safety experts don’t advocate for this method but it works. Sabotaging the pacifier makes it unsatisfying. However, you need to be careful with this method since you may easily create a choking hazard. You can go with subtle impairments such as poking its tip. Below is the experience of one mom:

“At 24 months, my son still sucked on his pacifier and had resisted all my attempts to eliminate it. I heard about the sabotage method and pocked a tiny hole on its tip just to see if this would work. Initially, he still tried to suck on it but after three days, he got tired of the air coming in and gave it a rest.” ---Jenny.

5. Leave It for the Binky Fairy

The binky fairy seems to work in many cases and this is a simple give-away method that allows the child to transition smoothly. Below is the experience of one mom:

“Our daughter gave up her pacifier with minimum resistance thanks to the Blinky Fairy. We simply told her that the magical fairy takes all pacifiers when children turn 3 years old and in exchange she brings lots of new toys for big girls. She helped us pack her pacifiers and went to sleep eager to get an exciting new batch of toys.” ---Jim.

6. The Instant Throw Away

Sometimes, your child needs some tough love. Simply make up your mind to throw out the pacifier while your child is watching. Ensure that you get rid of all the pacifiers and do not give into the crying. It’s ok to soothe your child but also explain to them that they are growing up and do not need to have the pacifiers any more.

Watch a video for more tips:

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