Baby pacifier over a plain yellow background

Ditch the Pacifier: 8 Tips for Transitioning

When it comes to parenting challenges, helping your child move beyond the pacifier is often a task that’s easier said than done. Who would think that taking away such a small object from your little one could result in so much distress?

Here are a few ways other parents have approached saying goodbye to “paci”:

  • Slowly reduce the amount of pacifier time. “In my experience, a gradual approach is the best strategy for getting rid of the pacifier,” says Kathy Krohn, a child development specialist at Primrose School of Golf Bridge. First, stop using the pacifier during non-stressful times. Then, don’t allow the pacifier outside of the crib. Finally, take the pacifier away for good. Be sure to avoid weaning your child off his pacifier during major life changes, like moving or starting at a new school.
  • Find creative ways to say goodbye. “When my oldest son was nearly 2, we took his pacifier in a bag to a local toy store and, having forewarned the store owner, we ‘bought a toy car’ with his last pacifier,” says Lauren, a mother of 2. “Of course, we paid secretly afterward, but he used his loved item to buy something he also loved. Win-win!”
  • Read together. One parent recommends reading “Pacifiers Aren’t Forever” by Elizabeth Verdick before going cold turkey. “We would talk to her about how she was a big kid and that it was almost time to say goodbye to the pacifier,” explains Ellie, a mother of 1. When they took the pacifier away, they kept reading the book and reminding their child that she was a big kid, continually reinforcing “no more paci.”
  • “Lose” the pacifier. “We pretended it got lost,” says Alicia, a mom of two. “We helped the kids look for it and when we didn’t find it, they just went to bed. Worked for both of our children!”
  • Offer another source of comfort. While your child is adjusting to life without “paci,” it may help to soothe her in other ways, like cuddling, singing or introducing a soft blanket or stuffed animal.
  • Give the pacifier away. Turn this milestone into an act of kindness! Explain to your child that there is another baby who needs his pacifier to stop crying. Help him go through the ritual of presenting it to a family friend or pediatric dentist, and then reinforce the importance of his kind gesture to help another child.
  • Make the pacifier unappealing. Add a few drops of lemon juice or vinegar to the pacifier, and suddenly it’s not a “tasty treat” that your child will desire.
  • Just ditch it. “Take all of the pacifiers away at the same time and don’t look back,” says Stephen, a father with two young children. “You might be in for a rough night or two, but kids adapt very quickly to new circumstances!”

As with many parenting strategies, the key to success is following through and being consistent. Make sure that other family members, teachers and caregivers are aware of your plans so that you child’s experience is the same throughout the day.