child with pacifier flickr / Megan Hemphill (Prairie & Co)
This Will Suck

How To Take Away Your Toddler’s Pacifier Once And For All

Everyone has a go-to when they need some stress release. Those activities range from hitting the gym to hitting up your friend who has the good weed. Your toddler’s choice is probably working over a pacifier. And while it’s fine for a short time, your kid needs to quit the binkie, or boppy, or paci (or whatever you call it) before it leads to dental problems or some other issue. Here’s how to know when it’s time to wave bye-bye to the binkie and how to reduce the risk of any withdrawal symptoms.

When To Pull The Pacifier

The key to helping your kid get rid of their pacifier is not allowing them to establish a deep emotional connection with it in the first place. That means getting rid of the thing when they’re still malleable little bundles of human.

The general rule is that the sooner you can banish the paci, the easier it will be. Some people make that happen as early as 5 months. But getting rid of the paci that early means you miss out on the SIDS protection it provides. Not to mention that babies hit a sleep regression at that time and you’re losing an important sleep tool (which you can’t replace it with Ambien).

So the general idea is to make it happen around when your kid is a year old. But don’t tackle it if there are other big milestones happening like weaning or potty training. Tackle one frustrating and difficult thing at a time.

Make Sure You’re Prepared

Removing the binkie, an item your kid has looked to for comfort for most of their life, is a big step. And yanking requires 3 specific actions from you:

  1. Don’t Ask Permission: Absolutely talk to your kid about what’s happening, but don’t ask them if it’s okay for the pacifier to go away. Because it never will be. And you will look weak.
  2. Be Compassionate: Hear your kid’s fears and worries. Repeat them back and tell them you understand. While you need to be firm, you don’t need to be an asshole. In fact, you’ll need to get extra cuddly for awhile. So bulk up on the nachos.
  3. Stand Your Ground: Once the pacifier is gone, it’s gone. It must never come back even to stop a 45-minute meltdown. Yep. There will be a lot of suck, despite the pacifier being gone.

The 2 Main Removal Methods To Know

There are a huge number of ways to banish the pacifier. But these 2 methods are the most useful.

The Prep Method

Give your kid a date and time, a few days in the future, when the pacifier is going bye-bye. Talk to them about it at least 3 times a day, but make those talks short and sweet. Keep the countdown going as the day approaches. When the deadline hits, take the pacifier away. Prepare for some awfulness for a while. This is a great time to invest in ear protection.

The Gradual Method

Start limiting your kid’s pacifier use to specific times. Go big by first banning pacis outside the home. After a while, limit pacifier use to times and places inside the home, until it can only be used in bed.

From there you’re going to have to remove it completely. You’ll need to get creative.

Get Creative

You can use these in concert with either of the above methods. They are the pacifier end game. The final act that takes the plastic teat out of the picture. These tricks may make paci-vanishing easier, but you will still need to expect some crying and be able to offer extra comfort for a few days.

Recruit Santa (Or Some Other Outside Agent)

Santa, and doctors, and fairies (oh my!) are all great people to finally take possession of the pacifier. Why are they doing it? To help other babies, of course! Sweeten the pot by having the agent exchange a cool to for the pacifier. Because it’s never too early to teach your kid about the joys of bribery.

Ruin The Binkie

The thing about a pacifier is that it’s super pleasant to stick in your gob. Especially if you’ve seasoned it with your own spit. So it gets a bit easier for your kid to do away with it if it’s no longer so satisfying to suck.

A couple ways to do this include asking the pharmacist for something non-toxic and foul tasting to apply to the pacifier. You can also cut the tip off the pacifier or split it down the center. This will make you feel bad, but if it works, you won’t feel bad for long.

Reuse It

Some kids are totally down with getting rid of the pacifier as long as they know it’s still around in some form. You can tell your kid that it’s not being thrown away but rather being recycled to become toys.

You can make this more explicit by “planting” the pacifier (and surreptitiously adding seeds) so that it sprouts flowers. Or, you can add it to the inside of a stuffed animal at one of those bear making stores. Just be prepared for your garden to be dug up, or the bear to be dismembered if things get too rough.

Whatever you do, just know that their withdrawal is going to be as rough as if you were taking away Willie Nelson’s stash for good. Your kid may not mark the occasion by writing a sad song, but there will probably still be some cryin’ and Waylon.

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