How to Wean a Baby off a Pacifier - Techniques and Tips
After a long night of crying, fussing, and screaming you finally gave in and just gave the baby a pacifier. How are you going to wean a baby off a pacifier now? Will it mess up their teeth? Will it cause ear infections? Don’t worry, in this article, we will address all those questions and more.
Why Pacifiers Help
Baby’s are born with an innate desire to suck. This “suck reflex” develops in the womb and helps the baby soothe themselves and receive sustenance from their mothers. Even if a baby is not hungry, they will want to suck on something. If they are not sucking on a pacifier, they will suck on a hand, finger, bottle, or breast. The act of sucking on something helps them to self-soothe and is part of the way they control their distress mechanism. Therefore, it is very normal and beneficial for a baby to use a pacifier.
Most babies will find a pacifier very beneficial and soothing. As they age, a pacifier turns into a security blanket of sorts and it can be hard to rid them of their habit. In order to avoid this, you will need to wean a baby off a pacifier.
When to wean baby off pacifier
Between the ages of 6-8 months is the easiest time to wean a baby off a pacifier. Around the age of 9 months, babies begin to develop a sense of attachment to their objects. After around 9 months of age, it will become harder to wean your baby off of their pacifier. However, this does not mean you have to do it at this time, it just means that it is easiest to do it then. You can wean a baby off a pacifier once they reach the toddler stage, and even later if you need.
There may be some other reasons you may want to wean a baby off a pacifier. Pacifiers, while great for soothing, can lead to health problems. If you notice your child is developing an increasing number of earaches, or their teeth are beginning to move it may be time to wean them of their pacifier.
Pacifiers are a great way to calm down a fussy child so it is sometimes easier to just give in and give them their pacifier. Don’t be too hard on yourself, even if it takes a while, your child will eventually rid themselves of their pacifier.
Different techniques to wean a baby off a pacifier
There are a few different ways that you can wean a baby off a pacifier.
The most difficult way to wean a baby of their pacifier is to cut it out cold turkey. With this technique, you will take away their pacifier and simply not give it back. This technique can be hard and requires a lot of self-will. Your child will scream, cry, fuss, and try everything in the playbook to get it back. In order for this technique to be successful, you cannot give in to their demands. It’s incredibly hard, and some people just can’t take it anymore and give in. However, if you persist, you can have your baby weaned off a pacifier in less than a week. It will be a long few nights, and you may not get much sleep, but it can be done.
Phase it out
In contrast to the cold turkey method is the phase-out method. With this method, you will slowly determine when and for how long your baby can have their pacifier. You can let them cry it out during their naps, but give them a pacifier when they go to sleep. Slowly reduce the amount of time that they use their pacifier throughout the day. Typically, this can be done over the course of a month or two. This teaches them to self-soothe.
Another method is to transition their soothing needs to another object. Instead of them needing a pacifier to go to sleep or calm down this will teach them to reach for a stuffed animal or a blanket. You are not taking away their soothing object, but you are changing the object to something else. You do this by phasing out their pacifier usage and replacing it with another object. This gives them something else to hold onto while they are upset.
Another way to wean a baby off a pacifier is to prevent them from using it to fall asleep. This technique is different from cold turkey because the baby is not prevented from using a pacifier, but they don’t use it to fall asleep. The technique is used when your baby is almost asleep -- they have stopped sucking on the pacifier. You will simply take their pacifier before they are completely asleep. This teaches the child to self-soothe without the use of a pacifier.
Tips for weaning a baby off a pacifier
Weaning a baby from a pacifier is a difficult, and sometimes long, journey. Try to be as patient and soothing as possible. Yes, crying and screaming and sleepless nights can make you lose faith, but it is all temporary. The best way to wean a baby off a pacifier is to use a combination of all the different techniques listed above. Phase-out the pacifier use throughout the day and only use it in emergency situations. Similarly, right before they go to sleep offer them a stuffed animal or a blanket instead of a pacifier. If they still want the pacifier, try taking it out before they are fully asleep.
Many parents dread the day that they have to take away their baby’s pacifier. However, with a combination of techniques and tricks, you can have your baby weaned off a pacifier in just a couple of months. Weaning a baby off a pacifier can be hard and difficult and lead to many sleepless nights. Not only are you dealing with pacifier crying, but you may be dealing with night-time feeds as well. Don’t make it more difficult than it needs to be by investing in a Bellefit nursing bra. This bra makes it easy to clip down and give the baby access to your breast without any hassle. Not only is this bra supportive and effective, but it is comfortable too. Don’t waste a second of sleep. Invest in a Bellefit nursing bra today.