How to Ditch the Pacifier ft. Pediatric Sleep Coach Desiree Baird

You knew this day would come, and you have been dreading it, it’s time to say goodbye to your little one’s binky. Whether it has become a sleep prop, or your pediatrician / dentist has recommended that you eliminate it, it must go and it’s not easy. Or is it? I’m here to give you some tips and tricks that I have found helpful for parents, and even for my own little one, during this time of transition.

First and foremost, take time to mentally prepare yourself for this transition. Sometimes when it comes to change we, the adults, have the hardest time with the change, not the child.  So, take a day or two to embrace the change that will be coming and put together the best plan for your family to eliminate it.  

As with any change, your little one may get upset and frustrated. Tears are normal, and so are a few tantrums along the way. I have learned over the years that it’s best to eliminate the pacifier cold turkey. This is not to be cruel, but to make the message clear so there’s no gray area. We want to send a clear message, not treat this like a messy break up. When a message is clear, there are less tears in the process. Weaning and occasional use, only confuses your child, making the transition difficult and more upsetting. Not to mention it only prolongs the inevitable. 

4 ideas on how to wean your toddler off of the pacifier

Below are a few ideas for a cold turkey approach with a creative spin.  Remember, your child may be upset initially, but within 3 nights, 5 at max, your baby will forget all about it and the tears will stop. 

The Binky Fairy. Pick a night for the “binky fairy” to come. Have your child gather all his pacifiers and put them in a paper bag, sack, or small bucket and put it by his bed. Explain to your child that the fairy will come and get all the pacifiers because he is a big boy / girl now. And in return, leave a present in exchange. 

Up in the sky. Buy a few helium balloons and tie a pacifier or two to the balloons (you can just throw out the rest). Go to your backyard, park, or field and have your baby say “bye-bye” as the pacifiers fly up into the sky. Be sure to explain to your child ahead of time that it’s time to say goodbye to the soothers and prepare him for this “bye-bye binky” ceremony. 

Build a bear. This is my all-time favorite method with toddler’s, but with COVID-19 it may not be possible to do this, but you can even modify at home.  If you have a Build a Bear store nearby take your child and let him pick out his new bedtime bear. Before they stuff it, have your little one put his pacifiers inside and explain that’s where they will be now, and he can cuddle with his new buddy instead of using the pacifier. His pacifier will always be close to him, but at this point he can no longer put it in his mouth or use it for sleep or soothing.

Garbage can. I know this one sounds silly, but for younger children the only way they may understand that something is forever is if it goes in the garbage can. Most kids, even at a young age, understand that once something goes in the garbage, it doesn’t come back out. You will explain to your child ahead of time that it’s time to say goodbye to the binky. Have him place all the pacifiers in there, and that’s it! You can give your child a gift in return. FYI, this is the route I went, and it only took one full day of naps and bedtime without my daughter’s binky and she adjusted just fine. I went this route because she already had a special lovey, and I honestly didn’t want to take twins to the mall and pay for two Build-a-Bear when I only needed one (the other twin didn’t have a binky).

Remain consistent and you will get success.
As with any transition it’s important to remain consistent and do not give up.  It may take a few days as mentioned earlier, but your little one will get used to the new normal. Just like with any other change in routine, you will get results quickest when the message is clear. So take away the pacifiers for good and I promise it will be over within a few days. 

During this time you can offer your little one extra snuggles, and it’s best not to bring it up and talk about it. Just give more hugs / kisses and be there for your little one to ensure they feel secure during this adjustment. 

And lastly, do not start any new bad habits like rocking or feeding to sleep just because you took the binky away. Your child should still go down awake and on his/her own.  You can offer to stay with your child at sleep times for a few days. After all, you are taking away his beloved binky, he or she may need some comfort to get over it. And there’s nothing wrong with that. 

About Desiree

Desiree Baird is a certified sleep consultant and a mother of three. Her two eldest children are boy/girl twins. As a twin mom, Desiree experienced many sleepless nights the first 5 months of her twins’ life. She felt helpless and decided to study sleep on her own so that she could ensure her twins became better sleepers and were set up for success. Eight years later when Desiree became pregnant with her third baby, she decided to take her sleep education to the next level by becoming a certified sleep consultant. Her mission is to help moms —especially twin moms — all over the world with improved sleep. She resides in Seattle, WA. For more information, visit her website at www.pediatricsleepcoach.com and follow her on Instagram @the_sleepcoach.

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