Pacifiers help to fill a baby's sucking need, and they can be a wonderful source of comfort to a fussy baby. What happens, however, when your infant becomes a toddler and her attachment to her pacifier grows much stronger? How do you break the pacifier habit with as little drama as possible?
Age of Baby
When and how you begin to separate your baby from her beloved paci really depends a lot on her age. If she is just an infant, her need for that extra sucking time is perfectly normal. In fact, The American Academy of Pediatrics has recently given a revised statement concerning a connection between pacifier usage at bedtime and a reduced risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
Once your baby becomes a toddler, however, her need for sucking should be greatly diminished. However, if she continues to use the pacifier, her habit will probably become much harder to break. Although some parents continue to encourage their toddler's use of a pacifier, and of course this should come down to an individual's decision on what is best for their child, other parents would like to completely stop their child's use of one.
Reasons to Stop
Once your child becomes a toddler, there may be several compelling reasons to limit or stop his use of the pacifier, including the following:
- Your child sucks on a pacifier the majority of the day, limiting his developing language skills.
- Your child insists on sucking on a bottle instead of a cup simply because he enjoys sucking on his paci, too.
- Your child cannot control his frustrations without resorting to sucking on a pacifier.
- Your child is simply bored.
How To Break The Pacifier Habit
Once you have decided it is time for your toddler to stop sucking her pacifier, don't plan on breaking the habit in one day. You can help your child through this process and make it less traumatic for her by using the following suggestions:
- Eliminate boredom as a reason for your child's need of a pacifier. When you see him becoming bored, help steer him towards a fun activity to help occupy his mind.
- When your child begins insisting on using his pacifier, try encouraging him to sing a song or recite a nursery rhyme instead.
- Help your child learn to control his frustrations by verbally expressing the current problem.
- If you haven't already, begin making the switch from a bottle to a cup.
- Let your child play a major part of the decision making process. Give him choices. In the beginning, tell him that he has a choice of when to use his pacifier. Gradually, limit those choices.
- Use a reward system. You might want to incorporate a pacifier chart, and let your child build up stickers for the days he doesn't use his paci. Once he's accumulated so many stars, let him choose a new toy.
You can help your child let go of his beloved pacifier. Remember that this process can be painful and traumatic especially if he is extremely attached to it. Be sure you provide plenty of love and patience. One day, that pacifier will only be a sweet memento of his babyhood.