Lately, I've gotten lots of questions about pacifiers and have worked with several clients with children who are very attached to their pacifiers. Doctors, Dentists, and Speech Therapists had been telling them for years to get rid of it, but we know that's easier said than done. I'd like to offer some tips for infants so that you can avoid that dynamic with your older children.
Pacifiers can be GREAT for Infant Sleep:
They help very young babies to calm down if they are overtired/overstimulated before nap or bedtime.
They may help extend a short nap - if your infant wakes after 45 minutes you can "shhhh" and use the paci to get them to sleep for another hour.
Pacifiers are not so great:
If you are working on establishing solid breastfeeding relationship. Pacifiers may "confuse" a baby learning to suck from the breast and may also lead a newborn to eat less than they need.
After 6 months of age it can become a sleep prop, meaning kiddos cannot sleep without them, causing night wakings.
Outside the crib - parents use them to calm babies anytime, anywhere, so they learn to associate it with everything, not just sleep.
Many of my toddler parents are terrified to get rid of the pacifier - kids get SO upset when they are taken away! But they seem to need them everywhere: in car, at school, while, shopping, even taking them out for meals can be problematic. If you're sick of the tantrums (and your dentists warnings) surrounding the pacifier, you CAN get rid of them! It's not easy, but this process has worked for dozens of my skeptical clients:
1. Plan ahead - set a date on the calendar and collect some prizes, sugar free mints (try spry or ice chips), and a fun new water bottle.
2. On the date, round up all the pacifiers and have your child help you "mail them to some babies" who need them.
3. Explain that "your a big kid now and you don't need a pacifier anymore to feel cozy and secure. Now you can ask for hugs, snuggles, or you can drink from your special new water bottle any time you are missing your pacifier".
4. After your kiddo goes to bed on THE night, cut a slice in their ONE REMAINING pacifier so that it doesn't "work" anymore. Encourage them to throw it away in time, but don't pressure.
5. Notice anytime they struggle to want it, and "redirect" to their new habit (water bottle or snuggling a loved one or a lovey).
6. Give stickers or prizes throughout the day as a reward for being "cooperative and independent" with the new expectations.
If you have tried all of these things - and more! - and it only led to weeks of stress and sleeplessness please contact me for a free call - I can help!!