Pacifiers provide a huge relief to exhausted parents of little babies. Once a pacifier is given to a fussy baby, he or she almost immediately stops crying. This, in turn, gives room for parents to have a breather, so to speak.
To most parents, a pacifier is a lifesaver and miracle maker rolled into one. Most babies have relied on their pacifiers, usually sucking on them to soothe and comfort themselves. And indeed, pacifier use has proven benefits for both babies and parents. However, some parents have also expressed certain concerns over the use of pacifiers. There are kids who have become very dependent on pacifiers for soothing and comfort so much so that when it is removed, they cry and struggle. Some parents claim that early pacifier use makes breastfeeding more challenging as babies sometimes have nipple confusion, affecting the mother’s milk supply. Pacifier use can also increase your child’s risk of ear infection.
Some say that extended use of pacifiers, just like thumb sucking, affects the developing teeth and gums of children. By the time a child reaches two, some dental effects can already be seen. However, the prolonged use of pacifiers will greatly impact a child’s teeth by the time he or she reaches four.
Eventually, you will need to help your child break the pacifier habit. And as a parent, you will need to be creative and prepared to follow thru on it. To help you in this, your dentists at Kidsmile listed down six creative ways to wean your child from pacifier use.
Slow and Steady Baby Steps
Some parents find success in slowly weaning their kids from pacifier use. You can gradually reduce the instances of pacifier use. Start doing this by not giving the pacifier when your child is awake and just playing or busy doing something else. Only allow the use of a pacifier during naptime and bedtime. After a few tries, you can stop giving it as well during naptime. Allow only for your child to use it during bedtime, until eventually and hopefully, your child will no longer look for it.
Just Abruptly Stop
Parents have attested to this method’s success. Just get rid of the pacifiers. But before taking it away, talk to your child about the change. Let your child know that he or she will need to stop using the pacifier in a few days. A good way to do this is to also involve your child in disposing of the pacifiers. Maybe set a date when you both will throw the pacifiers away and make a countdown to create excitement. On the day itself, let your child be the one to physically throw the pacifiers and confirm with your child that you indeed disposed it together and it can never be recovered.
Another method that you may use is by offering some reward as a replacement for pacifier use. You can be creative and make up a story about pacifiers. Tell your child that you will have to give up the pacifiers so that new babies can take their turn to use them. In exchange for your child’s cooperation, he or she will be given a reward or a gift. The reward can be a simple toy or a portion of a favorite food.
Cut or Lose It
Some parents just cut the pacifier with a pair of scissors, or simply lose it. The key to this method is by how you explain it to your child. You can explain that the pacifier got lost and nowhere to be found, or broken and needs to be thrown away. Some kids are attached to a specific pacifier and hopefully when your child sees that it can no longer be used or recovered, he or she will not look for it anymore.
Sour Taste Test
This may sound funny but it worked with some kids. You can try soaking the pacifier in vinegar or something else that tastes sour or bitter. When your child sucks on the pacifier, you will see that your child will react as the taste is not good. Hopefully, this will discourage your child from further sucking on the pacifier.
You can try a method or two and see which works for your child. Whatever weaning method you choose, it is important to remember that this is not something that is automatic and may take time for you to be successful in making your child forget the pacifier. Be prepared for some tears and tantrums along the way.
Bye-Bye Binky: Ending the Pacifier Habit, Parents.Com (https://www.parents.com/toddlers-preschoolers/development/behavioral/bye-bye-binky-ending-the-pacifierhabit/)
Your Child’s Pacifier Habits: Possible Complications, Colgate (https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/life-stages/infantkids/your-childs-pacifier-habits-possible-complications-0413)
8 Ways to Help Your Child Get Rid of the Pacifier, HealthLine.com (https://www.healthline.com/health/baby/how-to-get-rid-ofthe-pacifier#1)
Will My Baby Develop Pacifier Teeth?, Colgate (https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/life-stages/infant-kids/will-mybaby-develop-pacifer-teeth-0215)