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How To Drop The Pacifier in 3 Days

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We did it! All pacifiers are officially gone and out of our house. I’m happy to say there was not too much crying involved (by our toddler or his parents).

I’m sharing all of our secrets on how to drop the pacifier in just three days with minimal effort and tears. Our three easy steps to dropping the pacifier.

It’s important to go into this process with the mindset that this is the end of the pacifiers and there is no going back. I hope that this method helps ease the process, but no matter how difficult don’t give in and run to the store in the middle of the night.

Be mentally prepared and push through! I mean you do’t see any 10 year olds using pacifiers so everyone must drop them at some point and your toddler will too.

This approach is geared towards young toddlers since that is when we dropped the pacifier – at 22 months old. However, if your child is younger or older you may also find many aspects of this approach helpful as well.

You may also like some of these related posts for toddlers:

What Age Should You Drop The Pacifier?

Based on my research, most experts say that you should consider dropping the pacifier around age 2 to avoid potential dental issues, and definitely by age 4 when adult teeth may start coming in.

The issue with the pacifier is that when your child sucks, their teeth may start to shift and gap because of this constant abnormal sucking motion. This is sometimes called “pacifier teeth”.

Additionally, sucking a pacifier can cause abnormalities in the shape of the roof of their mouth, in how their top and bottom teeth align when biting, and possibly cause speech delays.

All of this means that you should really consider ripping off the bandaid as soon as you feel comfortable and definitely before 4 years old.

Our experience: We decided to drop the pacifier at 22 months right after he was potty trained. We had been meaning to a while and when our youngest (now 6 months old) didn’t end up taking a pacifier and actually slept much better, we decided it was time!

Read more about our potty training tips here: Potty Training Tips for Toddlers Under 2

How Will My Toddler Soothe Without a Pacifier?

If you are worried that your toddler will have a hard time soothing themself without the pacifier, consider other forms of soothing like small blankets or loveys.

Most experts suggest that a small blanket or stuffed animal is okay after around 18 months. Use your mom gut and talk to your pediatrician if you have any concerns.

We gave one to my son around one year old, but he didn’t really care for them until closer to 18 months. Now he absolutely loves his blanket and uses it as a pillow most nights (his is very similar to this Hudson Mini Blanket)

Tip: If your toddler uses a pacifier attached to a stuffed animal (we have one like this) consider removing it and keeping the stuffed animal for them to cuddle.

Approaches to Dropping the Pacifier

There are a few ways you can drop the pacifier: cold turkey, emotional lead up, or slow and steady.

Cold Turkey means just throwing the pacifiers one day and not looking back. This can sometimes lead to lots of protesting and crying, but could be a good option for younger babies just to rip off the bandaid.

Emotional Lead Up could mean discussing with your toddler how pacifiers are for babies and they no longer need them. If a new sibling is coming this could also be a good approach to have the toddler “give” the pacifiers to the baby or symbolically throw them away.

Incremental is the approach we took. I didn’t think that discussing it with our almost-two-year-old would have much value as he wouldn’t really understand, but also felt like cold turkey was a little too harsh for his personality. We weaned from the pacifier over the course of 3 days by taking 3 steps to make the pacifier less satisfying.

3 Easy Steps to Drop The Pacifier

Once you have determined you are ready to take the plunge and drop the pacifier for good, follow these steps below.

A few tips to prepare before the big day:

  • Consider your toddler’s age and communication skills when determining if you will discuss this transition beforehand or not. We chose not to mention anything beforehand or even during the process.
  • If your toddler uses pacifiers all day consider limiting to only sleeping first.
  • Start at nap time; its a little less overwhelming if things go south and they don’t sleep at all.
  • Throw away all of the pacifier except those that are kept in the crib/bed for sleep. You will be modifying those pacifiers and you don’t want them to find a “good one”.
  • Be mentally prepared and push through. Throwing away all of the good pacifiers will make it so you can’t give up and go back. Don’t go buy new pacifiers if things get rough. You got this!

The purpose of the incremental approach is to limit the satisfaction your toddler gets by sucking on the pacifier slowly, over the course of a few days. You do this by poking, slitting, and then cutting the pacifier so they can no longer be sucked. There is no going back!

Step 1: Poke Holes

Step 1 is to poke small holes in the pacifier. Use something like a large safety pin; make sure to use a clean safety pin and wash the pacifier afterward.

Our experience: I poked about 10 holes in his pacifier because I noticed that one or just a few didn’t do too much to make the pacifier suck any differently.

We started at nap time. I could tell that when he first started sucking he could tell something was different; he looked confused and kept switching between his two pacifiers he keeps in his crib. But, he didn’t complain and went right to sleep.

He did wake up early from his nap and cried (which he almost never does), but we pushed through. We also had a similar experience at night where he went to bed okay, but woke up in the middle of the night crying for about 30 minutes before going back to sleep.

Step 2: Cut a Slit

Step 2 for the transition is to use scissors or a knife to cut an even bigger slit in the pacifier. Remember to use a clean knife or scissors and wash the pacifier aftewards.

Our experience: On day two right before his nap, I took a knife to the pacifiers. I essentially stabbed it through right where one of the holes from step 1 already existed.

When he went down for his nap I could tell again that he seemed confused, but again he didn’t complain and went right to sleep. He also woke up from this nap early crying. He never mentioned anything about the pacifiers so it could just be a coincidence, but there isn’t really a way to tell. This night he slept through the night!

Step 3: Cut the Tip

Step 3 is the most dramatic step and involves cutting the tip off the pacifier.

Our experience: We moved on to step 3 on day three right before nap time again. We cut just a tiny amount off, but I did test it myself and there was absolutely no way to suck the pacifier (it was kind of like a straw now).

He went to sleep okay for his nap, woke up early but didn’t cry and actually went back to sleep. He slept through the night this time as well!

Ditching the Pacifiers

After your toddler has accepted the pacifiers no longer work, its time to actually physically throw them away and be done for good.

Our experience: We waited until day 5 to officially throw away the pacifiers. I wanted to make sure I didn’t do it too early and have him regress because he didn’t have the pacifiers anymore even though they were useless by this point.

One of his pacifiers was attached to a stuffed animal (one like this) so we kept the lovey for comfort.

Talking Points

My toddler never really asked or questioned why his pacifiers stopped working, he just sort of rejected them after day 3 and didn’t care about them anymore. However, I did have some talking points prepared in case he started asking why they weren’t working anymore.

Here are some ideas if your toddler asks:

  • You loved/used them so much they must not work anymore. Its okay, you’re a big boy/girl you can do without.
  • Pacifiers are for babies and since you’re a big boy/girl they don’t work for you anymore.

Thanks for stopping by! You may also like some of these related posts for toddlers:

3 Easy Steps to Help Your Toddler Drop the Pacifier

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