Are you wondering how to wean your toddler off the pacifier? Pacifiers make life a lot easier during the baby days, but as baby turns into a rambunctious toddler, and it comes time to wean off of the pacifier, what was once a huge source of comfort can become a source of much frustration for the whole family.
How to wean your toddler off the pacifier
The question of ‘how to wean your toddler off the pacifier’ comes up a LOT in our discussions over on on our Facebook Group. These ideas can help make the transition away from the pacifier a little bit easier on everyone.
Ration the pacifier first
Your toddler uses the pacifier for comfort, so making this transition as slow and smooth as possible can help the toddler learn to self soothe using small steps, instead of expecting them to just immediately find comfort somewhere else.
Getting rid of the pacifier slowing through “rationing” can help your toddler be at ease with the transition, and learn to comfort themselves other ways.
Eliminate most (but not all!) pacifiers
Start the rationing process by eliminating most of the pacifiers in your home. If there is a pacifier around every corner, it will be hard for your toddler to resist grabbing one and sucking, even when they would have been content to not have one, if they hadn’t seen it.
The goal is to work towards having a pacifier only at bedtime and naptime, but not at all during the day. This is a BIG step, that can be broken up into as many smaller steps as is right for your family. If your toddler is having a bad day, or has been hurt, it’s a good idea to break the “no pacifier” rule, and go ahead and let them have a pacifier as you slowly transition away from the pacifier being their main method of soothing.
Keep one in your purse
Even when you’ve managed to get the pacifier time limited to nap/bed only, you want to be sure you keep one in your purse at all times. Don’t let your toddler know it’s there, but this can save the day if your toddler gets hurt at the park or you end up being out past naptime, and need a quick way to soothe away from home.
When you are ready to get rid of the last pacifier
After you’ve dealt with only having one pacifier in the home for awhile and transitioned to bedtime-only pacifier for a few weeks, it will be time to get rid of the very last pacifier.
Start with a book like Pacifiers aren’t forever or Florrie the Paci Fairy. This can help you start the conversation about the pacifier going away, before it’s actually time to take the final step in the transition. I’ve put together some of my favorite books about giving up a pacifier HERE.
Talk to your child about a special reward that they will get when the pacifier goes away. Maybe it is a new toy, or a new “big kid” pillow and blanket for their bed. Think through what would mean the most to your child, to make them realize that letting the pacifier go might not be so terrible after all.
If you want to make a bigger ceremony of it, consider baking cupcakes the day the pacifier leaves home, or even taking a trip to Build a Bear and placing the pacifier inside a new stuffed animal, so your toddler will always have the pacifier with them, even though they won’t be able to suck on it any more.
Whichever way you do it, make sure you use positive, empowering language about the new stage of life your child is transitioning into instead of focusing on the negatives of what they are giving up.
As hard as this transition might be for your toddler, they are learning important comfort and coping skills that they will continue to build on their entire lives, it’s worth taking the time to give them to the tools they need to make the transition as fun as possible.
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