Whether they call it a binky, sucky, fi-fi, or nah nah, knowing when to start weaning kids from their pacifier is an important aspect of using one to begin with. While some pediatricians recommend that parents start the weaning process around nine months to 12 months (roughly the same time you take them off the bottle), others say that weaning a child by 18 months works just as well.
Whenever you elect to finally wean your child off of her pacifier, the transition process becomes a lot easier on you and your child by using a few of these helpful tips:
- Make your intentions clear. Taking your child’s pacifier away without first preparing him in advance can lead to a traumatic experience. Instead, prepare your child in advance by telling him that in a few days you’ll be taking away the pacifier for good. Even if your child can’t reply, he’ll still understand your intentions.
- Limit pacifier usage. If you need to take the weaning process a little slower, try setting limits on where and how long your child can use her pacifier. For example, set a rule that allows your child to only use her pacifier in the living room but not the bedroom, and only for 10 minutes at a time. During the times you take away your child’s pacifier, try replacing it by giving your child a book or new toy to use as substitute security blanket.
- Leave it out. Resist going back into your baby’s room to place a pacifier back in his mouth after he’s fallen asleep. The protection a pacifier provides your child from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) only applies when your baby is falling asleep.
- Reinforce the lulls. Most children go through cycles of attention when it comes to wanting a pacifier. For most babies this occurs during their second six months. Parents often give their child a pacifier more frequently than she actually asks for one. Make sure giving your child a pacifier doesn’t become a habit, and only provide one when it seems clear that’s what she wants.
- Cut off the end. When your child cannot see what you’re doing, cut off the end of his pacifier, and show him that it has been damaged and needs to be thrown away. Never give your child a pacifier that has had the end cut off, as that can present a serious choking hazard.
- Don’t make exceptions. Parents who decide to wean their child off a pacifier cold turkey shouldn’t keep one around in case of emergencies. This will just reinforce to your child that if she cries for long enough and makes a fuss she’ll eventually get her pacifier back.
Every child is different when it comes to weaning him or her from a pacifier. If one of these techniques doesn’t seem to work, try using another technique. Don’t feel pressured to keep sticking with one particular method just because it had success weaning an older child. If you have any questions about the weaning process, make sure to ask your pediatrician for assistance.
Timothy Lemke is a freelance health writer. To read more of his work, visit the website of Dr. Jeromy Dixon, a Longview, Washington dentist.