Pacifier Weaning
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Pacifier Weaning

There are several benefits to using a pacifier and much to keep in mind before deciding to let your baby use one. If you choose its use for your baby, eventually you'll need to wean your little one off.

Using a pacifier can be helpful for parents, especially first time ones and those who don't have assistance with childcare. Some swear to never use one while others feel it's a saving grace. 

There are several benefits to using a pacifier and much to keep in mind before deciding to let your baby use one. If you choose its use for your baby, eventually you'll need to wean your little one off. We'll offer some tips below to help you through this transition.

Pacifier Benefits

baby with pacifier

If you're thinking of using a pacifier and are reading this article for understanding, it's best to start with why parents opt into using a pacifier.

Babies are used to sucking (sucking reflex) when they're in the womb. A pacifier gives your little one something to suckle on, which is quite a soothing and calming experience for someone living in this new world. As such, it also helps as a distraction when your baby is experiencing something new and uncomfortable, such as getting a shot. 

For most parents, a pacifier is quite helpful in assisting a child to nap or sleep, which is often the reason one might opt in to using one.  However, sometimes your baby isn't hungry and just wants to suckle. That makes it a great alternative to being a human pacifier (which gives moms a break, especially ones that are dealing with postpartum depression), breastfeeding, and giving your child a bottle.

Your baby may also want to suck on their thumb or another finger to self soothe. A pacifier is helpful because it's easier to wean by taking it away, whereas their fingers are more accessible (and often not sanitary).

It also helps preterm infants spend less time in the hospital, lowers sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), and helps with pain relief.

Pacifier Complications 

On the other hand, your baby may become reliant on a pacifier. It can fall out of their mouth during sleep (you'll probably have to help them find it in the middle of the night) and they may not know how to fall asleep independently or learn how to otherwise soothe themselves without the assist. 

A lack of self control may also be encouraged if they're allowed to use a pacifier for as long as they want. It can also slow down language if it's always available, particularly around one years old when they're starting to speak. 

If you're breastfeeding, it can also interfere with developing a routine. Experts recommend introducing it around 3 to 4 weeks after you and your baby have a feeding rhythm. 

In more complicated cases, a pacifier increases middle ear infections (sucking may alter the pressure in the ear) and can cause teeth misalignment (overbite or crossbite) as well as decay if used for too long. 

If you do choose to use a pacifier, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Learn about pacifier use (such as reading articles like this one)

  • Start around month one or older (which helps reduce SIDS) and introduce it around sleeping times

  • Keep it in the crib so baby associates it with sleeping rather than casual daytime use

  • Use a pacifier as one of your last resorts

  • Pick one made of one piece to reduce safety hazards (choking)

  • Clean it frequently and avoid putting foods on it

  • Dispose of the pacifier as recommended by manufacturer 

  • Wean as early as possible (experts recommend after 6 months and up to 2 years old)


baby weaning from pacifier

A lot of babies naturally stop using a pacifier between ages 2 and 4, but some may need help weaning. Here are some things to do to help your baby break the habit:

  • Decide if you want to take your time or go phase it out 

  • Consider removing it when your child is almost asleep so they begin to learn self soothing 

  • Talk to other caregivers so everyone knows the plan

  • Talk to your child - let them know it's time to transition away from their pacifier

  • You can alter the pacifier to make it less appealing (for example, cutting off the nipple or dipping it in lemon) 

  • Give positive reinforcement when you child opts out of using a pacifier

  • Replace the pacifier with something else (like a lovey, stuffed animal, or a rocking motion to sooth to sleep)

  • Ask your doctor or dentist is none of the above techniques work

Pacifier Free! 

Transitioning from using a pacifier won't be easy for most, but it can be done. Remember why you gave your little one the pacifier in the first place - to help them feel better and to make life easier for you as well. On the other hand, you have to keep in mind that it can have adverse effects if used for prolonged periods of time. 

Weaning may be tough for all involved. Your child will push back to a certain extent, but they will eventually adapt because that's what kids do. Just prepare as best as possible and stick to the plan. In a few days, your baby will be pacifier-free! 

Meet Our KeaMommy Contributor: Nadia Rumbolt

Nadia Rumbolt is a mom of many trades, including creative writing, blogging, van life, minimalism, veganism, the beach, nature, and the occult.

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