Pacifier, binky, dummy, puting or whatever it’s called in your house can be a life-saver for new parents in the early days. Once inserted into the tiny (but unbelievably loud) mouth of a newborn, the cries cease and peace is restored in the home once again.
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. After your child turns two, using the pacifier often leads to slanting or tilting the top or bottom front teeth. “Pacifier use after age 4, which is when permanent teeth start to come in, can have major long-lasting effects on adult teeth,” says Evelina Weidman Sterling, co-author of Your Child’s Teeth: A Complete Guide for Parents.
Here are a few things to keep in mind as you create your plan for pacifier weaning:
1. Time it right. While weaning a baby off the pacifier is a fairly small event, it can be a big deal for a toddler. So make sure it doesn’t coincide with another big event, like the birth of a new sibling or potty-training.
2. Go cold turkey. This takes a great deal of patience and determination on your part. Simply take the pacifier away, and don’t give it back – no matter how much your little one begs, pleads, and screams for it. If you have the power to say “no” and mean it, do it.
3. Give advanced warning. Alternatively, let your toddler know exactly when you plan to banish the pacifier. Usually, a week’s notice is enough time as long as you continue to remind him or her daily of the upcoming transition.
4. Limit pacifier time. Try limiting it to nap-time or sleep only, WebMD suggests. Also, limit it to only inside of the house.
5. Enlist some supernatural help. Have your child collect all of his pacifiers and place them in a special box 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.
6. Make it taste bad. Try dipping the pacifier in something bitter or unappealing to kids, like lemon juice, lime juice, salt, or pepper. Your kid will associate the terrible taste with the pacifier and start to refuse it.
7. Sabotage it. Start by poking a tiny pin hole into the pacifier, says Baby Center. For some kids, the loss of resistance when they suck is enough for them to lose interest.
8. Send them off with balloons. Balloons are a creative way to give pacifiers the grand send-off they deserve.
9. Stage a collection. Enlist a friend to come to your door asking for pacifier donations. Explain to your child that the pacifiers are for little boys and girls who don’t have any.
10. Call in the professionals. Is your child enamored with police officers or firemen? You can also try enlisting their help in convincing your child that they’re too big for pacifiers.
11. Be patient. When you finally ditch the pacifiers, expect some tears, fussing and sleeplessness. That’s just how it goes. Be patient and remember that this too shall pass.
12. Be consistent. Remember, you’re not the only person who will spend time with your child during the weaning process. Notify those around you of your plans.