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by Michele | May 6th, 2011 | Infants/Toddlers

A pacifier can be a useful soothing tool for many babies.  Both of my children used them.  When they turned one, I decided it was time to eliminate their use.  Being individuals, each of my children accepted this news differently.  One of them simply stopped using it and slept as normal.  The other, well, decided that it wasn’t very nice and cried and decided napping wasn’t needed anymore.  To help other parents with the challenge of eliminating a pacifier, I spoke with Erin Taback, a Board Certified Pediatrician practicing at Oak Park Pediatrics in Oak Park, Illinois.

“As for pacifiers at bedtime, the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends the use of pacifiers in infants until around one year of age.  Pacifier use in infants sleeping on their backs is thought to prevent SIDS.  That said, most of us use them to help calm fussy babies as the sucking reflex is soothing.

Many infants and toddlers continue to use pacifiers to help sleep.  I often will encourage their use to help settle a young infant during the middle of the night to help get them to sleep through the night.  Once they become dependent on pacifiers though, their use can be a difficult habit to break.  Most babies continue to use pacifiers until up to around age 2.  Some toddlers will use them to the age of 3 or more.

By age one, many parents can simply take the pacifiers away, and this may end their use.  However, for those of us who are not ready to do so (and this included myself when my kids were young), I usually encourage parents to leave the pacifiers in the crib when the child awakens.  This helps to establish that pacifiers are only needed for sleep times and helps prevent the problem of the child always having a pacifier in his/her mouth.

For the toddlers age 2-3 who really love their “paci’s”, leaving a comforting “friend” behind can be difficult.  Talking with your toddler about a pacifier fairy coming to collect them or having a party to  gather all the pacifiers up to give away can be helpful.  If you play it up and offer the toddler a small present or surprise for giving up the pacifiers, they will usually go along.  They can even help to gather them up, make a special box for them, and leave them for the fairy to come to get them.  Or others have done this and had the child help to bury them in the yard somewhere.

As I learned from having my first child addicted to her “paci’s,” getting your toddler to give them up is easier than most parents expect.  With a little prep from the parents to the child and a parent who is ready, losing the pacifier at bedtime is really not that hard.  Work on a good bedtime routine, talk it up and usually this transition takes only a few days.”


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