Toddler

How do I take a pacifier away?

Your tot's pacifier helps them feel safe and calm, but it may be time for them to move on. Here are a few strategies to help ease the transition.

Photo: iStock

Photo: iStock

Paediatrician Harvey Karp recommends a relaxed approach. “Try not to feel pressured to break the binky habit,” he says. “Sucking is actually a wonderful tool for toddlers to feel secure, calm and confident.” But if it’s impeding speech or you’re tired of picking it up, you can start to wean around the age of two to three years, suggests Karp.

Start slowly
Begin by limiting your toddler’s pacifier only to bedtimes or when she’s particularly stressed. Instead, encourage a “lovey” (like a blanket or stuffed animal), and gradually eliminate the pacifier from daytime use.

Be positive
To encourage your kid’s progress, let her know indirectly how pleased you are with her efforts to self-soothe without a pacifier. “The most effective way to praise your child is allowing her to ‘overhear’ it,” says Karp. “Say, ‘She doesn’t even use a soother, she’s a big girl.’” Avoid comments that may make her feel as though she’s disappointed you, such as, “I guess you’re not really ready yet.”

Plan the big day
Designate a special day or significant occasion (such as a birthday) for the transition. You can work out an exchange, so that she gets something else that you have decided on together in return for giving up the soother, recommends Karp.

Readers tell us how they ditched the pacifiers once and for all
My son had just turned two when we “lost” his soother. We went to the store to buy new ones and I deliberately picked ones that were not his kind. He hated them, stopped needing them and forgot he ever did! —Jesse Mead, Alliston, ONt.

We “paid” for a special toy from Toys R Us with his pacifier. (We told the cashier about it before we went to the cash.) He never asked for it after that. —Sheri Tobin, Montreal

We gathered the “binkies” and went to Build a Bear. She picked out a kitty, and we built it with the binkies inside. When she felt like she needed a binkie, she could feel them inside Binkie Kitty and snuggling the toy made her feel better. —Kelly Wyatt, St.Thomas, ONt.

When friends of ours had a baby, we explained to our daughter that she was a big girl now and didn’t need her soothers anymore, so she could give them to the new baby as a present. She was so excited and proud of herself. —Elizabeth Ryman, Beaumont, Alta.

My three year old threw it into the large garbage truck. The sanitation man gladly released the claw as my child waved goodbye. —Chrisee Mcardle, Sarnia, ONt.

A version of this article appeared in our April 2015 issue with the headline, “Your top 10 most googled parenting questions,” p.67

Read more:
How to wean your child from her pacifier 
How we got rid of the pacifier in our house
All about comfort objects

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