A breakup is difficult, especially when one does not want to let go. Getting your child to let go of the pacifier, their best friend, can be difficult and grievous. After all, do we like the feeling of grief? How do you feel when your best friend, companion, or a close associate quits, walks out of the relationship----not a good feeling.
Like a close friend, partner or companion, that pacifier has gotten your little one through tough times, soothing the discomfort emotions, and relaxing them when you most need it.
Here is some good news, Difrax, “one of the best-known baby brand in Europe, has made a huge splash in the United States market with their bold, colorful, and stylish pacifiers,” provides 15-day tips to strategize the breakup, the pacifier habit:
Days 1 to 5: Explain to your child that as kids get bigger, they no longer use a pacifier. Point out other kids and people you might run into so they can see who has a soother and who doesn’t. Depending on the age of the child, you can also talk to them about how a pacifier affects their teeth. Then slowly wean the child like you for breastfeeding. Begin by only offering the pacifier in certain situations, like in the car, when they’re hurt, in the crib at nap, or bedtime (when it’s truly needed for soothing vs. out of habit), then start taking it away one situation at a time. Your child will find comfort through other things, but going cold turkey will be hard on you and your tot. You can come up with other ways to soothe your child such as reading a story, or rewarding them with stickers or extra hug if they’re able to go to sleep without the pacifier.
Days 5 to 15: Take away the pacifier during the day. Let you child know that pacifiers rest and are put down to bed during the day. Also you can prick the pacifier with a tiny pinhole, as it will cause the pacifier to become useless. Your child will think it is broken and will not enjoy sucking on it anymore.
You can ask the child to earn “pacifier time” if he or she must use it during the day. Use the pacifier as a reward for eating all his vegetables or using the potty. Depending on how old your child is, you can use it to encourage alone time or room cleaning. You’ll be able to stop offering it eventually, and you’ll have created some healthy habits in your child.
Days 6 to 10: Tell your child it’s ok to miss the paci but that there are other ways to feel comforted such as a hug or finding an activity he or she enjoys doing like coloring, reading, playing with toys, etc. Tell him or her that all big kids give up pacifiers. Use your child’s current role models (books, TV, video game character) to demonstrate who doesn’t have a pacifier.
Days 10- to 12: Make sure you have located all the pacifiers in the house and ask your child to say “goodbye” to some of them. Pull them out of your diaper bag, purse, and dishwasher, under the couch, bed, etc. One look at a pacifier and all your hard work is gone.
Days 11 to 15: Prepare for the final days of the pacifier. Your child can also try sleeping without the pacifier at this point, although you may keep it close by just in case!
Day 15: Today your child puts the last pacifier into an envelope and sends it to the Pacifier Fairy. Or, have the pacifier Fairy visit in the middle of the night like the Tooth Fairy, where she takes the pacifier and leaves a gift (usually a stuffed animal or blanket----something that can bring comfort). You can do it one night only, or leave little things each night that your child is able to go to sleep without the pacifier.
Make sure everyone is on board with this process! Ensure nannies, babysitters, and especially grandma know that you are trying to get rid of the pacifier. It will do you no good to work hard and be the bad guy if grandma is slipping your child one whenever she watches him.
Tip credits to Vivienne Van Eijkelenborg, the owner of Difrax – a Dutch baby products company that pioneered a 3-stage pacifier system designed to accommodate each stage of baby’s development with newborn to 6 month, 6+ months, and 18+ month sizes. See the entire line at DifraxUSA.com.