How to get rid of a pacifier has been a highly-requested post, so after this same method worked for both of my children, I feel confident enough to recommend it. 2.5 years old felt like the right age for both kids to start talking about getting rid of “paci.” Both Harper and Lincoln used pacis from the time they were born (they both loved the MAM pacifiers) and eventually they used them mostly just for sleep at night, though sometimes for comfort too.
Don’t get me wrong – we love pacis. I think some kids just like to “suck” and it’s a soothing thing for them and helps them sleep better. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that infants less than six months of age use a pacifier for sleep as it can reduce the risk of SIDS (source). And, for what it’s worth, we never had any “nipple confusion” issues from using a pacifier. Harper was never an efficient nurser and Lincoln was fantastic at emptying the breast- and both used pacifiers from birth.
Though we love them, we also recognize that past a year or so, they’re really more of a habit for comfort (nothing wrong with that either!) We’ve never been in a rush to get rid of the paci and started seeing a pediatric dentist at about 15 months of age with each child. The dentist was never concerned but encouraged us to stop using pacis by age 3. So age 2.5 felt like a good time to start talking about it because we didn’t know how long it would take.
HERE IS HOW WE GOT RID OF THE PACIFIER:
I was looking for ideas and came across a pin on Pinterest about taking your child to Build-A-Bear to say “bye bye” to their pacis. With Harper, I took her for a girls day when she was 2.5 and we brought a ziplock bag of pacis with us. We talked all week about how the pacis were going to live inside of her bear because she was a big girl now and let her continue to use them that week. You don’t want this to be a surprise – talk about the process so when you get to the store, you can focus on the fun aspects of the experience and not tell your child in that moment that the pacis are going away (can you imagine getting to work, having a special party thrown for you and then immediately being told you’re being demoted? I can imagine that’s what it would feel like for a toddler if this was suddenly sprung upon them).
I like the idea of Build-A-Bear because it’s a way to have a tangible “thing” for your child where the pacis are “kept safe.” Lincoln says “pacis are inside Chase now!” (he chose Chase from Paw Patrol at Build-A-Bear). With Lincoln, we did the same – talked about going that week, talked about him being a brave boy who didn’t need pacis anymore, etc. When we got to the store, we walked around, let him play a bit and then we let him decide which “bear” he wanted. He was a little bit nervous at first, but Harper picked out a unicorn so he got to watch her get hers stuffed first and the whole process, which I think helped.
I have been so impressed at how this technique/experience has worked with both of our kids. I was very doubtful that it would work and expected tears, sleep being affected, constantly asking for the pacifier, but Harper never did and we’re several months out with Lincoln and so far so good – he’s actually sleeping better now than he did before! He used to wake up and yell “paci paci!” until someone went in there to give it back to him (no, he wouldn’t look for it, lol, too much effort). Now, he knows that paci is inside Chase and I told him if he ever thinks about paci he can hug Chase and feel better. He hasn’t asked for it at all – he knows it’s inside Chase and will sometimes mention it if he’s playing with Chase. Your experience may be different – your child may still ask for it, so I encourage you to remind them to give their bear a hug and that the pacis are safe inside the bear. Most people I know who did “cold turkey” methods said they had a few nights of fussiness and affected sleep but then things were back to normal.
My best advice if you want to try this approach is to first only offer pacifiers for sleep to wean from using it outside of that. Then, wait until your child is an age where they’re talking/can understand you. Finally, spend a week or two talking about big boys or girls not needing pacis anymore and prep them for the excitement of being brave and a big boy/girl and going to Build-A-Bear to say bye bye to paci. This formula has worked for us twice and I hope it works for you too!