My son’s first experience with a pacifier was in the NICU. In our area, when you go into NICU you are issued a vanilla scented orange pacifier to help you learn to suck. Since then, he has been a binky boy through and through. Your child may be in a similar situation. Whether it is for comfort, learning, or habit, many children have trouble ditching the pacifier. There are many different methods you can try to see what works best for you.
For some people, the best way to purge the paci is to make it disappear. Toddlers don’t take change well at first, but they do tend to adjust a lot quicker than adults. If you choose this method, you will likely need to be prepared for a few days of crying and tantrums, especially at bedtime. However most of the time within a few days your child has forgotten the pacifier and moved on. I would not suggest this method if there are other major changes going on, like moving or new siblings.
Another popular method is exchanging the pacifier for something else. It can go to the “Paci Fairy,” a mythical being much like the Tooth Fairy. You can tell your child the fairy is collecting pacifiers for babies that really need them. Put the pacifiers in a bag and leave them overnight. In the morning, they magically turn into a new toy! If there’s a toy that your child has been begging for, they could also trade their pacis for a new “big kid toy.” This method is great for teaching cause and effect and sometimes for helping others. This method is not as good if your child is not yet ready to grasp the concept of exchange or helping others.
Children that still suck on their pacifiers will stop being interested if they can no longer suck on the pacifier the same way they always have. The easiest and most humane way to do this is by pricking a small hold in the end of the binky with a pin. Your child won’t be able to see the difference. They likely won’t really understand anything beyond the fact that the paci is no longer as satisfying. There are some downfalls to this. Your child may be unhappy and not understand why it’s different. You also have to watch pacifiers closely to ensure they do not fray more and become a danger. However, this tends to come with less tears than taking the paci away. It also is nice if you want your child to earn their rewards in a different way. At times, there are no fights, the child simply dispenses of the paci when it no longer “works right.”
Let Them Decide
In some ways, toddlers are a lot better at life than we usually give them credit for. Because of this, your child will probably ditch the pacifier when they are ready. After all, how many children do you see on the first day of kindergarten with a pacifier in their mouths? Your child knows themselves. They will stop using the pacifier when they are ready. Check with your pediatrician to ensure the pacifier is not affecting their speech or teeth. As long as the doctor isn’t worried, you don’t need to be. Let your child keep their comfort object until they are ready to replace it with something else.
As you can see, there are many different ways to make the pacifier disappear. These are just a few of the most popular. Every child is different. Do what works best for your child and your family. Some child will quit the paci at a few months, some a few years. Either way, it is highly, highly unlikely they will be taking their pacifier off to college with them. Try not to worry about it too much and enjoy your child’s growth and progress.