The Pacifier Problem: Ending Your Toddler’s Habit

In the world of parenting, there is a magical object that can shush even the angriest baby, allow sore nipples the chance to heal, and give parents an extra few minutes of calm before their baby wakes for the day. This object, full of wonder and glory, is the pacifier. For babies who actually take it (we cry for parents whose babies don’t!) it can be the most essential tool in their parents’ tool box for the first two years of life.

Unfortunately, what is so magical at one stage of development is a royal pain in the tush at others. Toddlers love their pacifiers so much, they can flat out refuse to part with them. What do parents do? They get inventive. And they pray a lot. If your little one is fighting giving up his pacifier, know that you are not alone, and then try one of these solutions.

baby playing with pacifier

baby playing with pacifier

Cold Turkey

Like anything else, going all in is a good option for many people. Some parents have had great success just telling their toddlers that they are too big for the binky and it is time to say goodbye. To implement this, simply remove all the pacifiers from your home and vehicle, and wait out the aftermath. It will probably be a challenge to create new routines and schedules to help your child cope without a binky, but it shouldn’t last more than a few days to a few weeks, depending on how much of a stubborn mule your toddle can be. You never know, your kid may surprise you and be absolutely fine with the transition to more “big kid” behaviors.

Give It Away

There are several variations of the “Give It Away” binky solution, but there are two that seem to be the most effective. The first is to tell your toddler that she has grown so big and tall that she doesn’t need her binky anymore, but other babies still do. Then you tell her that the next time she hears a little baby cry, she will be able to give the baby her old binkies to help him feel better. Follow through, and the next time you hear a baby cry, have your child offer the binky (freshly washed, of course) to the upset baby.

Don’t be surprised if she relishes in how it helps comfort the baby, just like it did for her. If later she forgets and demands her binky, simply remind her that she doesn’t have one anymore because she gave it to the baby. Just make sure and plan this ahead of time with another mom or dad so everyone is comfortable with the situation.

The other “Give It Away” solution involves leaving the binkies for the Binky Fairy to collect to take to babies who need them. The concept is the same as the first, but offers a different motivation for kids who may not respond well to a baby, but who would do anything for a fairy. Simply have your toddler place all of the binkies in a special spot with a message for the binky fairy, and then collect them after your child is asleep. No more binkies, and no more hassle.

Taste Method

Many kids would rather rot than eat something they don’t like. Put this to use and make the binky taste terrible. Ask your pediatrician for a prescription for an unpleasant yet harmless coating to apply to the pacifier, and let it do its work. When your toddler asks you why it tastes bad, tell him when you grow up and reach a certain age (the toddler’s age) your taste buds change and pacifiers start tasting gross because you don’t need them anymore. Tears are likely, but they usually end up throwing the binky away and moving on in just a short time.

Related: Top 10 Most Googled Parenting Questions

Slow and Steady

Slowly weaning your toddler off the pacifier is a gentler method that may appeal to many parents. It involves restricting the use of the pacifier to certain times in the day or to certain predetermined places. Bedtime and nap time are common restrictions, because the babies still need the pacifier to soothe to sleep. Restricting the paci to a crib or bed is also standard practice. Eventually, you could eliminate use of the binkie during naps, and then phase out the bedtime binkie as well. It may take time, but slow and steady wins the race!

“Lose” It

Have you ever “lost” something you didn’t want to find? That incredibly annoying Caillou toy that won’t stop whining at you, for example? Take a page out of your own book and make your toddler’s pacifier disappear, then act perplexed when it can no longer be found. Prepare for an exhaustive search, because most toddlers demand immediate action, and expect a whole load of crocodile tears. After time your little one should calm down and accept that his binky is gone and life will go on. There may be some difficult nights as he adapts to life without the comfort object, but they won’t last forever.

Let It Be

Some parents are completely bucking the trends and choose to let their children decide when they are ready to part with their pacifiers. This eliminates what they see as an unnecessary struggle, and allows kids to make the decision on their own time. The parents’ main argument: you don’t see many five or 10-year-old kids out there sucking on binkies. Kids will eventually tire of the habit and move on themselves or with a little suggestive guidance when they are older.

Nip It in the Bud

One of the most foolproof ways to ensure your toddler does not have a pacifier addiction is to never let one develop in the first place. This may be difficult to impossible for some babies who demand the comfort of sucking at all times, but for some people, it may be worth the effort. It will be essential to find different soothing techniques, such as rocking, swinging, nursing and cuddling to eliminate the problem before it even has a chance of beginning.

Pacifiers are certainly amazing things for some babies, but kicking the habit does not have to be such a struggle. Hopefully, one of these tips works for you and can help you get the pacifier away from your toddler without sacrificing your sanity. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for more information on all things parenthood.

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