Updated: Jan 21, 2021
The Pacifier. The sleep prop with many names. Whether you call it a pacifier, soother, binky, dummy, or Dodie, it can be an amazing tool 🔨 If you're looking to learn about all of the great benefits of the pacifier, I've written another blog that I recommend you check out first. Click the photo "Sleep Props: The Good and the Bad."
Now, I want to teach you how to eliminate the pacifier, if that is something you are thinking about doing. I will start by talking about why you might want to say goodbye to the binky. One reason is for their language development. If they always have something in their mouth, it makes it pretty difficult to talk! It can often cause them to fall behind with their speech, so it is something to keep in mind and watch out for. If your child is speaking well and their Pediatrician is not concerned, then don't stress about it!
The biggest reason to lose the dummy, in my opinion, is when it starts to impact your babies sleep. This is a very common problem. Babies become reliant on the pacifier to fall asleep, but eventually it falls out of their mouth and this causes them to wake up. They are unable to fall back to sleep without it, so they call for you to come and reinsert it for them. This often leads to frequent night wakings and can quickly become a vicious cycle, tormenting both you and your baby.
Been. There. Not going back!
Alright, now that we know why you want to reduce or eliminate the pacifier, let's look at how we do it.
Perhaps you want to try to reduce their dependency on the soother before you take it away completely. I will warn you now, this is often more difficult than just getting rid of it. Similarly, it doesn't always get you the result you're hoping for. However, I totally understand the desire to keep it and I do recommend giving this a shot. After all, there are so many great benefits to the soother, including lowering the risk of SIDS.
Under 7 Months
I suggest only giving your baby their pacifier when they need it. You can give it to them when you lay them down for sleep, but anytime it falls out, you do not reinsert it for them. When you inevitably have to go to calm their cries, you want to comfort them and get them back to sleep without the soother. If you are not able to, then go ahead and give it to them. At least you made them work for it!
During the day, use "tummy time" to help them practice putting the pacifier in. Put it in their hand and move their hand to their mouth. The older they are, the quicker they will catch on.
Another thing you can do is take the pacifier out, right before they fall asleep. I know that sounds really scary.... it might be! At this age, they enter into a deep sleep quite quickly, and are more difficult to stir. If you wait until they are just about to drift off and you take it out, they should fall asleep without it. If you do this for a few days, it often results in them learning to fall asleep without a soother.
Over 8 Months
At this point, they are fully able to reinsert that b*tch themselves! Just put a ton of them in the crib with them and let them figure it out. If there are several, they will have a good chance of finding one in the dark (their room is blacked out RIGHT?!?!).
Bye Bye Binky
Alright, that didn't work. It has got to go. This is it, this is THE time. You can do this. You WILL follow through this time. Perfect, glad we are all on the same page! Let's decide how you're going to pull off this impossible mission. There are a lot of options, depending on the age of your child!
Cut a hole in it
This is pretty straight forward! You want to cut the tip off so that they don't get the same sucking sensation. This should cause them to lose interest pretty quickly. Be sure to cut it so that no piece of it could possibly fall off for your child to swallow or choke on.
This is a fun one! It is just like the tooth fairy, which kids tend to get pretty excited about. Have them gather ALL of their soothers and put them into a bag/bucket and place it by their bed when they go to sleep, getting them to say goodbye forever. Tell them that the soother fairy will replace them with a present for them to find in the morning.
Up up and away
If you want to get theatrical about it, you can have a send-off. Make sure they understand that they are saying goodbye forever. You just need a few helium balloons, then tie one or two soothers to them. Head outside and release them into the sky. This is not the most environmental option, but it does the trick.
I don't know about your child, but my girls love throwing things in the garbage (even things that aren't garbage). They also understand that when something goes in, it doesn't come back out. So have the conversation, and chuck em' out! It sounds kind of satisfying doesn't it? It may help to give them a gift after this too.
I love this idea. If you have a store nearby, take them and let them pick out a new friend. You can put one or two of their favourite soothers inside the bear. Explain that we are saying goodbye to the soother, but they can hug their new bear when they miss it.
Whatever approach you decide to use, expect some tears. They have likely developed a pretty personal relationship with that little piece of rubber. For the fewest tears and quickest change, cold turkey is going to yield the best results. So be strong Mama! You don't want to go back on your word, that will just confuse them and make the next attempt much more difficult.
You got this! And if you don't want to do this alone, I am here for you! Send me a message or book a FREE 15 minute consultation. I would be so happy to help you through this, and any other sleep issues you are facing.