While some babies who use a pacifier or dummy have little trouble giving it up, there are some who would be lost without it.
There’s no written rule regarding the exact age when a child should willingly give up a pacifier. But for the most part, paediatricians suggest that by age one, the weaning process should be well under way.
Because dependency can be difficult, even traumatic for some children, here are some helpful tips and ideas for helping baby quit the pacifier.
Potential Pacifier Risks
The primary reason a child should stop sucking on a pacifier before one year of age is because speech development could be compromised.
This would be especially true when a pacifier is used daily, since rather than learning to speak, the child would probably be more inclined to just babble.
In addition, speech problems can occur because the mouth is maintained in an unnatural position that actually impacts the development of both lip and tongue muscles.
Along with concerns about speech, there are other reasons why learning about tips and ideas for ditching the dummy is essential to include the following:
- Some children develop a psychological dependency, which can make the weaning process traumatic if not handled properly
- Promotes better sleep since the child would not wake up throughout the night wanting the dummy
- Discomfort and pain associated with ear infections would be dramatically reduced or eliminated altogether
- Temporary misalignment of the teeth would be prevented.
Effective and Safe Solutions
Remember, while the tips and ideas for quitting a pacifier have been proven to work effectively and safely, if someone has trouble it would be worthwhile talking to a paediatrician about other options.
- Toddler pacifier. There are many different types of dummies, some designed specifically for infants and some for toddlers. Sometimes, transitioning from an infant dummy to a toddler dummy helps since the feel is unique. In addition, toddler dummies are made in a way that lessens the impact on speech development.
- Ceremonial goodbye. For a child who finds it easier to give up habits through a formal process, a ceremonial goodbye is an excellent method for ditching the dummy. For this to work, it would be important to start preparing the child about two weeks before the big day. Then as part of the ceremony, the child would take the lead in placing the dummy in a trash bag. To make this process smooth we suggest offering some type of reward.
- Phasing out. With this method, over a period of time the locations where a child could use the dummy would be limited. For instance, at first the dummy would be allowed anywhere in the home but then phased out to just nap and bedtime. Eventually, the phase out process would involve the dummy only be used while in the car, visiting grandparents, and so on.
- Education. There are actually a number of books written for children specific to giving up the dummy. When the time comes, a trip could be made to the library and these books used as encouragement but also for educational purposes.
- Shopping trip. Another option would involve allowing a child to choose a new toy or game in exchange for giving up the dummy. Keep in mind that this does not need to be anything expensive or extravagant.
- Dummy / pacifier fairy. The “pacifier fairy” would work in much the same way as the tooth fairy. For this, the pacifier would be placed beneath the bed pillow with the child waking to find a gift in place of the pacifier.
- Stuffed inside a bear or comfort toy. Another idea that works quite well is to have baby’s pacifier stuffed inside a bear. For this, you would take your little one to a place who makes bears (such as Build A Bear), choose the type of bear your baby wants, and during the stuffing process, have the pacifier placed inside. Although the child would not have direct access, there would be a sense of security knowing it’s part of a bear being cuddled.