Pacifiers are lifesavers when your baby needs to be comforted. Moreover, the American Academy of Pediatricians endorses its use during bed and naptime. It doesn’t just soothe the baby, it also helps fulfill the baby’s innate need to suckle and reduces the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Well, after you have enjoyed these wonderful benefits of the pacifier, there comes a time when will you need to wean your child off. For many parents, weaning their child off the pacifier can be quite challenging, especially when there has been prolonged use.
There are several strategies that can help you go through this period smoothly.
Here are some of the most important things to consider:
There’s no scientific evidence on when it’s the best time to wean the baby off the pacifier.
However, there seems to be a general consensus that it’s better do it before the baby turns two years old, to prevent certain problems associated with the prolonged use of the pacifier, like potential ear infections and improper development of teeth, or even delayed development of speech in children. Remember that as babies grow older, they begin to have a sense of ownership and may have even become dependent on the pacifier. This will make it potentially more difficult for you to wean them off.
It’s definitely important to not try and wean the baby off the pacifier when there are major changes in their life such as the arrival of a new baby or moving to a new neighborhood.
You can start by taking the pacifier away during the day. At the same time, try other ways of soothing your baby to sleep at naptime and bedtime. This may include reading or narrating an interesting story to your baby before they fall asleep, singing some lullabies to calm and finally soothe the baby to sleep etc
To make it easier for your baby to go through this change, introduce other items that will provide them comfort. It may be a new toy, a stuffed animal or a cute baby blanket that help soothe the baby.
Involve all family members and caregivers in the process of weaning your baby. You will need their support in doing this.
Patience With Your Baby and Yourself
The process of weaning your baby may take months before you can finally call it quits. You will, therefore, need to be very patient with your baby and yourself.
Applaud Your baby
Celebrate your baby anytime they don’t demand the pacifier. Tell them how excited you are because of the great progress they are making. This will encourage your baby to move in the right direction.
Make It Unpleasant
You might try to make the pacifier unpleasant to put in the mouth by applying something nasty like lemon or vinegar. Whatever you choose to use, make sure it is safe. Some parents use a trick and cut off the tip of the pacifier to remove its sucking power, however, this might cause choking hazards for the remaining part and is not advisable.
Bidding The Pacifier Goodbye
You can have a ceremony where you bid farewell to the pacifier: involve your baby in organizing the farewell party. The baby could help with decorating the box where all the pacifiers will be put in.
Doing It The Hard Way
Going `cold turkey’ is an alternative to slowly wean your baby off the pacifier. This simply means that you take the pacifier away from your baby. You will, however, need to explain to them that the reason you are taking the pacifier away is that they are now big enough to stop. There will be rough patches but eventually, your baby will get used to the new norm.
Do Not Give In
Once you have decided that the pacifier has to go, stick to that decision. There will be moments when your baby will cry for it and yes you will be tempted to give in if only to have peace of mind. Remain firm. Regardless of how attached a kid may be, you’ll have three bad nights. That’s it.