Bye-bye Pacifier: 4 favorite ways

Are you stressing out at the mere thought of getting rid of your child’s pacifier?  Most parents dread this topic!  Here is some advice on how to get rid of the pacifier with confidence and success.

Pacifiers are an effective soothing mechanism for infants and have been shown to decrease the rate of SIDS during infant sleep. For older toddlers, I think pacifiers help the stress and pain of teething. By the age of two years of age, however, most kids are ready to transition to an alternative soothing item (stuffed animals, “lovies,” and other blankets.)

At the age of 2, the jawbone is still very pliable and changing. Changes in the position of the teeth due to pacifier use (an “open bite,” or malocclusion) can still self-resolve. And, removing a foreign object from a child’s mouth during a period of extensive language development is just a good idea.

I know some parents delay this transition because of the fear that their child will be “mad at them” for taking away their trusted friend. So, why not take yourself out of the process (figuratively speaking) and have them get rid of it? If your child can actively get rid of the pacifier him or herself, then you are not the one to be blamed. You are the one providing comfort.

So, how do you do it?

Here are my four effective ways to help your child get rid of his or her pacifier.

1.  Go shopping. Is there a toy, book, or treat that your kiddo would love to get his hands on? Have your child “pay” for this item with all the pacifiers that he collects around the house. When you are at the store where this item is sold, find a helpful face at the customer service desk. Explain to the service clerk that your child would like to “pay” for a special item with his pacifiers. As you pay the clerk for the item, allow your child to place all his pacifiers on the check-out counter in exchange for the new toy. It is a quick, effective way to get the pacifiers out the house and provides a new item of distraction. In addition, it is a tangible reminder of what the child accomplished.

2.  Go to Build-A-Bear Workshop. Have your child grab all of her pacifiers and head to the mall!  Have her pick out a new “best friend” from the Build-A-Bear collection. Before the stuffing is placed in the bear, have her put all her pacifiers in the bear. Now, she will have a new friend to sleep with, and her pacifiers will also be there! (FYI, I have no vested interest in Build-A-Bear.)

3.  Pick a night for the Pacifier Fairy. Have your child collect all of his pacifiers and place them in a special sack near his bed. Let him know that the Pacifier Fairy is going to leave a special treat in the morning in place of his pacifiers.

4.  Bring them to me! Bring along all the pacifiers to your child’s 2-year-old checkup along with a new “surprise” for your child. Give the surprise to my nurse as you are checking in. During the visit, I will be happy to take all the pacifiers from her in exchange for the new surprise. You can remind her later that Dr. Natasha is using the old pacifiers with her patient babies who did not have a pacifier. Promote the example of “big kid” generosity.

Some more quick tips:

  • Any behavior modification with a 2-year-old works best when the message is simple and clear. That is why these techniques work. The pacifiers are gone. Period. I do not recommend “weaning” from a pacifier since the message to your child is not clear from day-to-day. This leads to confusion. Stay firm with your decision, and don’t talk or “explain” too much. Once the pacifier gone – it is GONE! No turning back – no explanations needed. This is just something that happens to all big kids, and the time is now.
  • Make sure that your child has not hid any pacifiers around the house. Nothing is worse than getting through this process, only to find a formerly-hidden pacifier in your child’s mouth.
  • You know your child best, but I would argue 20-22 months is the sweet spot for most kids to successfully make this transition.
  • Regardless of how, where, or how much the pacifier was used; be prepared for 3 bad days. That is the average time it takes to dissociate the pacifier from your child’s lifestyle. Consider those 3 days short-term inconvenience for tremendous long-term gain.

My son loves his pacifier. Just looking at his cheeks swell as he smiles behind that piece of plastic – I can’t help but smile myself. I know our day to get rid of the pacifier will come soon. Until then, let me know if these suggestions were helpful to you, or if you know of any other successful methods. I would love to hear.

Good luck.

P.S. Want to hear one more way to get rid of the pacifier? Check this post.

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12 Responses to Bye-bye Pacifier: 4 favorite ways

  1. Melissa (Confessions of a Dr.Mom) March 22, 2011 at 11:58 am #

    I love your paci fairy and “bring them to me” idea! I just may use that bring them to me. Love it!

    I have a paci lover over here and we are talking about the paci fairy making a visit very soon. She is making her wish list :)

    Great post Dr.Natasha!

  2. Troy W March 24, 2011 at 7:13 pm #

    To break our two year old of the habit, we snipped the ends of the pacifiers off with scissors. When she tried to use them, the sensation was quite different and she didn’t like it. We told her that they were broken and asked her to throw them away. Fortunately she had grasped the concept of what goes in the trash does not come out. Having her throw her own pacifiers away gave her some closure. She never asked for them again!

    • NBurgert March 24, 2011 at 9:48 pm #

      Troy – Thanks for sharing your experience. I love how you had her put them in the trash. Ownership of the action makes all the difference – well done!

  3. Susan M August 8, 2011 at 6:15 pm #

    The Pacifier Fairy visited our house last week! It went really well (probably should have done it a lot sooner). Every once in awhile my son asks for it, but after a little reminder he’s fine with it. We only had one bad night where he woke up twice thinking about it. Fabulous idea!! Thanks for the wonderful informative blog.

    • NBurgert August 8, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

      So glad the Fairy found your house! Thanks for reading.

  4. Elyse January 23, 2012 at 10:51 am #

    We have been watching the “Bye Bye Binky” episode of Sesame Street for a couple of weeks now. Elmo sings a song called “Bye Bye Binky.” My daughter will be two in one month. For almost a year, she has only gotten the pacifier to sleep at night and at nap times. Occasionally if she was sick and fussy we would give it. The past month with watching this episode, we read her books and do out nightly routine and only give the pacifier at the last minute. Then we remind her that we will say bye bye to paci very soon because she is a BIG girl now and will be a big sister very soon (two months!)

    Today she reached for her paci on the counter and I asked if she wanted to put it in the trash. She said yeah, so I handed it to her. We walked over to the trash and I told her she could put it in if she wanted, but once it was in there she couldn’t take it back out. I said if you want to put it in, say Bye bye paci and throw it in the trash. SHE DID! No crying, no remorse… in fact she smiled! Today we will see how nap at day care and bed tonight are… but I am so happy my big girl made the choice on her own to throw it away!!

    • NBurgert January 23, 2012 at 12:36 pm #

      I love this approach, and what a great story. I hope for a quiet’s night rest for your big girl today!

  5. Jennifer January 10, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    Just stumbled on this site, but wanted to say that we used one of these techniques to wean our pacifier addicts from their beloved “boppies”. We took away the pacies during the day when they were 1 and only gave it to them for naps/bedtime. A couple weeks before their 3yr check-up we began preparing them for the fact that they were going to have to give it up soon. At their 3yr check up, I brought very large lollipops to the appointment (secretly handed them to our pediatrician’s assistant) and had our pediatrician trade them — pacifiers for lollipops. After they laid eyes on the largest lollipop they had ever seen…..they gladly handed their stash of pacies to the Dr. Although they asked for it for a few nights after this, we kept reminding them that they traded it for the candy and told them the Dr needed to give their pacies to other babies. We had a bit of crying/whining (less than 10mins a night), and they did wake up at night for a couple weeks, but knowing how addicted they were, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was.

    • NBurgert January 10, 2013 at 10:04 pm #

      Great story, Jennifer. Thanks for sharing. Hope you stumble back soon. NB

  6. Amber March 26, 2013 at 5:59 pm #

    My son held on to his binky like it was a lifeline! We actually started out by only giving it to him during naps and when he was real fussy, but as time went on, he seemed to want it more (it went from a suckle need, to a want). My mom found the bye bye pacifier method (www.bye-bye-pacifier.com), printed it and suggested that we go with it. At first I was a bit mad at my mom, but I soon got over it. The method worked amazingly well. My son stopped sucking on it after 4 days! He proceeded to carry it around for another week, but never put it in his mouth. He then got tired of carrying it and simply lost interest. Mom was right, it worked, highly recommended!

  7. Cheri February 5, 2014 at 7:09 pm #

    I just came across this post and saw there were no comments about Build A Bear. We just got rid of my daughter’s Binky. She chewed a hole through the last one on Monday. Yesterday, we took her to the Wacky Bear Factory (we don’t have a Build A Bear), and she picked out a calico cat she liked. We dropped in the binky and stuffed the cat. Now, when she asks for her binky, I show her the cat’s paw where the binky is. She smiles and hugs it. Seems to be working well!

    Also, we named the cat Binky! I think having something to give her (and reassuring her we haven’t actually removed her beloved binky) is the biggest help.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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