If you’ve stumbled onto this article, chances are you’re ready to get rid of the pacifier.
This can be a particularly painful time for lots of mamas. Luckily you’ve come to the right place!
We’ve got loads of pacifier weaning tips, methods, and strategies to help you get rid of the pacifier once and for all.
But by baby’s first birthday most pediatricians will recommend ditching the pacifier. While many of us continue to use them well into toddlerhood, prolonged pacifier use, from ages 2 to 4, can cause dental problems.
Like any other habit, quitting the pacifier isn’t easy for your little one, or consequently for you either.
But it doesn’t have to be a total nightmare.
There’s several different ways that moms have come up with to ditch the pacifier. Not every pacifier weaning system will work well for every kid – your child’s age, maturity, and temperament play a big part in which strategy is best for you.
But before you start….
Pro Mom Tip: Check for hidden pacifiers! When you have finally managed to break the pacifier habit, the last thing you want is for your toddler to find a rogue binky in the couch cushions and then have to repeat the process.
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In This Guide:
1 | Tie it to a Balloon
Get rid of the pacifier in a big send off with a balloon!
Tie the pacifier to the string of a helium balloon, tell it goodbye, and let it go.
While this seems to work great for some moms, my kids cry any time a balloon floats away so it is definitely personality dependent.
Such a fun way to get rid of the pacifier while still giving your child some comfort of it’s presence.
Take your child’s favorite binky to Build-A-Bear and help your child through the process of choosing and stuffing the bear.
When it comes time to put the heart inside, put the pacifier in there as well. The staff will sew up the bear and your child will have a precious memento of their beloved binky!
3 | Give the Pacifiers to Another Baby
Collect all of the pacifiers to “give them to another baby”.
Explain that the new baby will need the pacifiers and hopefully your child will feel generous.
Really playing up the idea that pacifiers are for babies and they are a big kid now might help.
Make it fun by letting them help by putting all of the pacifiers in a box to wrap or mail.
This seems to work well if you know someone like a friend or family member that is having a baby. But it could cause some jealousy if the new baby is a sibling.
4 | Get Rid of the Pacifier By Making it Taste Bad
Make the pacifier unappealing by putting something sour or bitter (but, of course, NOT HARMFUL) on the pacifier.
I’ve heard of moms having success using lemon juice or vinegar on pacifiers.
You can also try putting on something like No Bite. While technically a nail polish designed for nail biting and thumb sucking, the idea is the same. One huge plus here is that there is an extra bottle of the bitter taste, so if your kid is stubborn and builds up an immunity to the initial polish you can make it more potent.
5 | Have the Paci Fairy Bring a Substitute
Many moms have called The Paci Fairy by Melissa Burnett a total lifesaver. It’s a fun, cute, and generally tear-free way of allowing children to give up their binkies.
It tells the story of Palina and how her town gets all out of sorts because the Paci Fairy stops coming to her town. Because of this, all the adults have pacifiers but there are none for the babies! Palina knows this isn’t right and sets on her journey to find the Paci Fairy.
This engaging book with colorful illustrations details a seven step method of getting rid of the pacifier that most parents can complete in a single night.
The final step is the Paci Fairy taking the beloved binky at night while the child is sleeping and leaving a toy or other small prize. This turns an event that could be traumatic into something exciting that children can look forward to.
6 | Cutting Pacifier to Wean
Just a little snip in the nipple part of the pacifier renders it useless to the child.
Start with using scissors to cut off the very end of the pacifier, really making the current hole just slightly bigger.
When your child goes to suck it, they will immediately realize something is wrong. They’re not able to create the suction required to keep it in their mouths.
Some children will throw their pacifier in the trash right away when they discover it is “broken” before searching the house for another one. In these cases, make sure you’ve cut *all* the pacifiers so they don’t find one that works.
Other more stubborn children will adapt to the new pacifier with a larger opening. In these cases you’ll want to slowly increase the size of the cut over the next few days.
7 | Buy a Pacifier Weaning System
This idea to get rid of the pacifier is similar to the above cutting strategy, which has been criticized for not being a safe method.
While many moms have successfully utilized the “Cutting Pacifier to Wean” method, the truth is you are modifying a device that has been safely tested to be used as-is in a child’s mouth. The criticism is that by cutting it, you could be introducing a choking method.
Problem is, the “Cutting Pacifier to Wean” strategy is very successful – so what’s a mom to do?
This is a pacifier that has been safely tested *with* the little hole that prevents kids from creating that soothing sucking they so desire.
Pros – Kids get the physical comfort of the pacifier without giving them the suction they are looking for. They can wean on their own over the next hours-months.
Cons – For kids who are addicted to a particular brand of binky, switching to different brand may not work.
8 | The Last One
Tell your child that this is the last pacifier.
Make sure they know that you won’t get any more and they have to keep track of it. So if it gets lost (let’s be serious, when it gets lost), that is it.
This obviously only works if your child is old enough to understand the concept, but it does give them a chance to get used to the idea as well as some control.
9 | Take it When They Have a Cold
I admit, it seems kind of harsh to take a comfort object while your little one is sick, but it can be a very effective way to get rid of the pacifier.
Most moms have noticed that their congested baby can’t use their pacifier when they can’t breathe through their nose.
While this is super frustrating when trying to comfort your sick baby, it can work to your advantage.
You take that pacifier away while baby is struggling to use it and hope that by the time they are well again, you have successfully broken the habit.
10 | The Slow, Gradual Method
If you’re not the type to do any of these aforementioned “cutesy methods”, consider just gradually taking it away to get rid of the pacifier.
Start with limiting the pacifier to only sleeping times (ie. naps and nights) so they learn other methods of self-soothing during wake hours.
After a few weeks, start removing it during naps. Then try to put them down for a nap without it.
Finally, do the same method for night. First remove it during nighttime so they can’t find it and then put them to sleep without it at all.
11 | Pacifier Weaning Cold Turkey
Another popular method is to just go cold turkey.
Pick a designated day, find all the pacifiers, and hide them. Tell your child that they’re gone and give them extra snuggles the day.
After a day or two, they’ll barely remember the pacifier at al.
This may be a brutal method, but it’s quick, practical, and effective.
12 | Wait it Out
Most kids will give up the pacifier on their own sooner or later. Unfortunately, that later could be way later than you would like.
I must admit, this was my method of choice with my first son and he gave it up at 2.5 years old.
To help us along, I started putting the pacifier up on a shelf where he couldn’t see them. Out of sight, out of mind, right?
But, of course, he knew they were there and would ask for it at bedtime and nap time and I’d give it to him.
One day, he didn’t ask. And that was the end of the pacifier habit in our house.
A week or so later, he asked for it. I said I didn’t know where it was and we could look for them all in the morning.