Once your toddler has her first supermarket temper tantrum because her beloved pacifier was left at home, you will most likely want to wean her off the pacifier for good.
When should you wean your baby from her pacifier?
Although there is no specific age a child should be weaned from her pacifier, a good age to start would be about 18 months. When we say start, we mean to start the gradual process. Although some parents go “cold turkey” with removing the pacifier, we recommend a more gradual approach.
Possible side effects of prolonged pacifier use include:
- Tooth Misalignment: Depending on how long your child sucks on her pacifier, she could end up with a small deformity in the upper jaw, which could cause her upper teeth to misalign.
- Slowed Language Development: With a pacifier stuck in your baby’s mouth all the time, she is less likely to babble and experiment with sound. This lack of practice could lead to slow language development.
- Increased Ear Infections: Pediatricians say that pacifier use has caused a 50% rise in ear infections.
How do I wean my child off her pacifier?
Start with only giving her a pacifier at nap or bed times to soothe herself to sleep. Tell her that her pacifier is only for sleepy time. Gradually work the pacifier out of the naptime routines, until she is only using it to sleep at night. Eventually “lose” the pacifier for bedtime. Your toddler should adjust within a couple of days.
-Substitute Other Tools
If your child won’t give up the pacifier, have her trade it in for another toy or a special activity. At night, give your toddler a stuffed animal or special blanket instead of the pacifier for comfort.
Keep your toddler playing with other children so that she models her behavior from them. (Choose non-pacifier sucking playmates)
Try a Reward Chart and give her stickers for getting through the day without her pacifier, if she is old enough to understand this. Give her lots of hugs, kisses, and “I’m proud of you”s.
Do not give in to your toddler through a tantrum or bedtime crying. If you eventually give in and give her the pacifier, she will become confused. Stick to your guns and she will come around.