Toddlers & Pacifiers

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Questions, By Age  

Weaning 1yo off pacifier

Feb 2007

Our almost-one-year-old daughter wakes up about 3-4 times a night because her pacifier has fallen out and she can't find it to put it back in. She almost always falls right back asleep after we put it in.

We are ready for her to sleep through the night, and so we want to wean her off her pacifier. But we have no idea how to! She had a cold for a few days and couldn't keep her pacifier in because of her stuffed nose -- needless to say neither she nor we got any sleep.

She has become completely dependent on the pacifier. I am also worried about the effects of her sucking on plastic all through the night, every night. Does anyone have advice about how to wean her off her binky, how long it takes, tips, etc? Thanks! Sleepless in the East Bay

I'm curious to see what others say. But, my advice (from personal experience in 2 avid nighttime paci users) is to let her have it until she outgrows it. The time will come in the very near future that she will be able to locate it in the crib and put it back in her mouth. In the meantime, load the crib up so she has a chance of finding one. My boys both slept all night every night and I think it's because of their paci's - colds excluded, but most kids don't sleep through the night when they're sick. I do pop the paci out when I go to bed for my now 2 y.o. but never did for my first. He finds it again in the night anyway and keeps on sleeping. My six year old had teeth that I feared would require braces from so much nighttime use and as soon as he was done with paci (within 2-3 months) his teeth went right to ''normal.'' He used his paci nightly until he was five - longer than most, but I didn't have the heart to take it away when he explained to me that it kept him feeling safe and cozy at night - who doesn't want to feel like THAT while sleeping? His dentist feared that he'd go to the thumb since that was his reasoning - and said thumbsucker's teeth don't straighten out as quickly, nor can you get rid of the thumb, so keep the paci. -Let's see what other BPN-ers think...

If your main concern is not being woken up to give her the pacifier, you might try a pacifier clip that attaches to her clothes so she can learn to find it herself in the dark. This worked great for our second child; we wish we had known about these for our first. (You may want to wean from the pacifier for other reasons, but our oldest stopped napping and started sucking on her clothes and other oral things when we took hers away at age 3. We ended up giving it back to her because it seemed like she still needed it.) Good luck!

Binkie use for 14 mos old

March 2011

Our 14 mos old is quite attached to her binkie. From the moment I put one in her mouth, I felt surrounded by opinions on the subject but have never asked for details. Now, her pediatrician has told us she should stop sucking it by 18 mos and I am ready to hear from everyone the reasons why sucking a binkie is often seen as a bad habit nowadays. What is the harm? Thanks! Isabelle's mom

They do that so baby can start talking unimpeded. My son used his only for naps/relaxing, I never let him run around the playground with it, but he didn't want to. Most kids sort of forget about it like this as they get busier. I think one day I just ditched them all and said ''No more pacis'' and he was sad for a few then started playing again. He was happy with his thumb ever since. Mom of a devoted thumb-sucker

I'm sure you will get some great responses on this. Being in what I think is the minority, I wanted to chime in. Personally, I don't think there is anything wrong with using a binkie past 18 months. In fact, depending on the child, it can be a great comfort. My daughter was also very attached to her binkie. I read the books and the magazines that said the time to ween was before 24 months. But I also spoke to my pediatrician, because I was pretty convinced I was in for a battle if I tried to take the binkies away for good. Surprisingly my doctor told me not to worry about weening her from it, and that eventually she would do it herself as she found other ways of soothing herself. I also spoke to her dentist who also didn't seem concerned about either. So, I let her keep it. There were some times when we were out and I felt a little self- conscious about my ''big girl'' using a baby's pacifier. But she was happy, so I let it go. I did finally make her give it up at four years old. I didn't want her going to kindergarten with a pacifier and figured this would give her time to find alternatives and see she could live without it. We talked about it for weeks up to her birthday and when the time came I took her to Build-A-Bear, let her pick out whatever animal she wanted and we put her favorite binkie inside and had it sewed up for her to keep forever. The rest of the binkies we left for the binkie fairy to take to other little kids who needed them more than she did. My daughter is now 7, well adjusted, her teeth are fine, and she still has the stuffed animal and loves to tell the story of why she got it and what's inside. My advice: do what you think is best for your daughter, not what you think everyone else thinks you should do. (BTW, our second child, who is now 4, never took to a pacifier - go figure). big fan of the binkie

Our doctor told us to stop using pacifiers and bottles after 18 months because it causes cavities (it presses sugar, such as the lactose found in milk, against teeth exacerbating tooth decay). Prolonged use can move teeth and affect the way your child uses their tongue when they speak and swallow. anon

What is the reason your pediatrician gives? My son's dentist was adamant that he prefer binkie to thumb and had concerns that some kids switch quite easily from one to the other if they still need/desire the comfort from sucking something (especially at night and nap time.) I'm curious to hear, what IS the harm? My five year old just gave his up -- he only used it for sleeping so I never had to hear about it from others. My now 10 year old did the same thing and, guess what? We just got word he doesn't need orthodontia! I believe that if it's a security item (like a blankie or favorite stuffed animal -- don't often see people lobbying to take THEM away?) there's more harm in pulling it out from under the child than letting them soothe themselves in this way. The Bay Area's funny that way. Loads of opinions... Not so quick to judge.

I'd say go with your instinct. Our pediatrician didn't say much when we told her our toddler used it for naps only, and neither did the dentist. We were in the hospital with my son with pneumonia and we allowed our son to use it all the time (he was 2 and fully tubed b/c of lack of oxygen). Then it was the first time we were told about it, when the attending doctor gave us a speech about how our son shouldn't be using a binkie, which I found ridiculous given that they were telling us they didn't know whether my child would make it! EP

My daughter is almost 3, but around 12 months, we limited her use of the binky: Never at daycare, only during changing, naptime (at home) or bedtime, and long trips (sleeping in the car seat or airplane). She is almost 3 and this is still a routine, although we discuss how ''when she's a big girl'' she will have a big bed, no more diapers, and no more Binky. She is actually excited about all these changes and celebrates the idea, so I'm not worried. Recently, we had to give her anti-biotics for 10 days, and I kept thinking -- thank god she still loves her binky, because it was a bargining chip to get her to take her anti-biotics. I am not worried about it. I know she'll give it up (or we'll convince her to let it go). My parents told me, that one day when I was two or three, I threw my binky over the fence and was done with it. Everyone gives it up eventually. Elisabeth

Limiting pacifier use with 14 month old

Jan 2006

Our 14 month old daughter has recently become really attached to her pacy. She searches for extra ones under the crib in the morning, calls out ''pac,'' etc. I've read the posts about eliminating the pacifier, and they're really helpful. They made us relax about the fact that our daughter needs this comfort, and realize she will probably give it up when she's ready, even if that's age 3.5 or so.

But we'd like to limit its use to naps, bedtime, and car, because we really don't want it to inhibit her speech, harm her teeth, or become her only means of comfort. None of the posts refer specifically to how to limit its use. Did you place it in a special box out of reach, only to be brought down at naptime? Or did that put too much emphasis on it? We don't necessarily want to use it in the car, but we also don't want her screeching while we try to drive. I'd love any specifics on how you made clear that it's only for use at certain times. Thanks! anon

Maybe it's because I'm a second-time parent or maybe I'm just cruel and insensitive, but I've found it simple to restrict pacifier use to the crib--we just leave pacifiers in the crib and don't make them available anywhere else. When my 17-month-old requests her pacifier (which she calls her ''mimi'') when she's not in her crib, I just remind her that mimi is just for sleeping and she's not sleeping now. Mean mommy

We've only ever allowed our sons paci whn they're sleeping, for some of the same reasons as you listed. We just tell them matter-of-factly that pacis are for sleeping. Period. On some occasions, like when they're not feeling well, we'll make acceptions - but otherwise nope. Pacis are for sleeping.

Our son is almost 26 months old and still is addicted to his pacifier (he named it Boo.) At about 15 months, we started talking about using it only for sleep, nap or in the car. We used humor and praise to make it a big deal that he left Boo in the crib when he woke up in the morning, and some days he couldn't make even an hour without it, while on others he went the whole day. He now says ''I am a big boy, don't need Boo.'' and leaves it in the crib. Of course, this breaks down when he is sick and needs more comfort, but we get him back on track after he feels better. I have found that it is a great way for him to comfort and soothe himself, and that he is relying on it less and less the older he gets. Our plan is to eliminate it in the car, and then for napping, and then finally at the end of the year we will have a party, as some other BPN parents have suggested, where he gives up Boo for good in a celebration.

Don't listen to what other people say if they hassle you about his still needing it; our guy's pacifier has been a great comfort to him and he is a happy, social, intelligent toddler. Why is it that at such a very young age babies have to ''toughen up'' and get rid of something so basic and comforting? I think that your guy's use of it will really change after he is done teething, they use it alot to make their poor gums feel better. I also think it is much easier to finally stop relying on the pacifier v. the thumb- my same-age nephew sucks his thumb so much that he has deformed the joint of his thumb and unlike Boo, his parents can't control its use (they also won't be able to throw it away when the time comes...) Not ready yet to boot the Boo

My son's pacifier was not allowed to leave his crib. He could use it whenever he wanted to, but to do so he had to be in his crib. It didn't last very long. At first he'd use it, but he did not grow to depend on it. You might try something like that and include the car as well. You can have one passifier for the crib (bed) and one for the car. Good luck. He still has crooked teeth though.

Weaning 16-month-old from pacifier

March 2006

Since birth, my 16 month old son used a pacifier when he went to sleep. Lately he's been wanting to use it during the day and gets very cranky if I don't give in. We'd like to begin weaning him from using it during the day and eventually for sleeping. Any suggestions? Or is the 'cold turkey' method the only sure way to transition him? Thank you, kelle

Our son also used his pacifier mainly at night, then when I was away for a few days, started wanting it during the day and dad gave in. When I returned, he wanted it constantly. I think he was about 20 mos at the time. Here's what I did...

Decided paci (baba) would only be for sleeping and would stay in crib (with exception of on long airplane flight to go to sleep). He was still using the small size, so I made a big deal of getting the bigger ones and saying he was ready for big boy babas. Big boy babas are only for sleeping and they stay in the crib. We collected all his ''baby babas'' and threw them away. He did this very ceremoniously and seemed very proud. Then the rough part set in when he wanted it and couldn't have it during the day. It took about three days of crying and being pretty upset, but then he was completely fine and would take it out himself and drop it in his crib when it was time to get up. I did this over the weekend so our child care provider would not get the brunt of it. He still uses it for sleeping and we're not worrying about that yet (he's 2.5 now). Three days of fussing was also how long it took when we switched him from a bottle to a sippy cup. Good luck! anon

I weaned my son from all-day pacifier use to nights-only use at around 18 months old and now (at 2.5 yrs) wish that I had gone all the way. Whatever method you choose - do it now, while your child is still (relatively) impressionable. A 16-month old whiner is nothing compared to a ''using-his-words-like-we-taught- him-to whiner''! good luck

My advice is:

PLEASE don't worry about it. Parenting is hard enough! If it helps make your child calm and happy, that's EXCELLENT. Some folks desperately wish their child WOULD use a pacifier.

My daughter is now 4 & STILL loves her pacifier. But she now only uses it when she goes to sleep at night or on long car trips. She's doing just fine in preschool, has lots of friends, etc. & never uses her pacifier out in public. Her teachers, dentist and pediatrician all consider her to be healthy & normal.

Our pediatrician told us that if a child needs to suck on something, the pacifier is way better than thumbsucking because thumbsucking really does damage teeth & pacifiers don't.

My daughter's pediatrician & preschool teacher have also pointed out that you almost never see a kindergartner or elementary school-aged child with a pacifier. Which in my experience appears to be true. I guess kids do outgrow their pacifiers eventually.

Although (from personal experience), I do not advise going through the utter trauma and misery required for getting your child to give up the pacifier before she is ready to do so (ugh, we went through that ... it lasted for two days before we reconsidered out of desperation), you CAN limit its use and definitely should do so if it makes you feel uncomfortable.

You can tell your daughter that pacifiers are for bedtime, naptime, and the car (or whatever limitations work for your family) and that she cannot take it to the park, the store, daycare, preschool, etc. Tell her that she's a big girl now and that big girls only use pacifiers at home or not at all.

You can also take pictures of her and tell her how pretty she looks without that thing in her mouth and show pictures of her with and without it.

But with that all said, she'll give up her pacifier when she's ready & there's no need to force her to give it up before she's ready unless it's really important to you for some reason. She'll be fine regardless of when she gives it up & we parents do need to conserve energy & choose our battles. Take care, Lisa

When it was time to wean my son from his pacifier, we threw out all but one. The one we kept, we cut off a tiny bit of the tip. When he put it in his mouth, it didn't ''work'' like it used to and he lost interest in his binky. When he requested his binky again, we gave him the ''broken'' one and then he remembered why he rejected it before. After about 24 hours, he never asked for his binky again. anon

16-month-old can't go to sleep without pacifier

Dec 1999

My 16 month-old can't go to sleep without her pacifier. She uses for naps and at night time, and with it, falls to sleep very quickly and easily. Although we don't consider her pacifier use a problem now, i wonder how and when she might give it up. Obviously we don't want her to use it as a sleep aid all of her life. She mostly sleeps through the night. Maybe one or or two nights per week i'll hear her crying and i'll go into her room and help her find her pacifier. I have no idea whether she's crying due to the lost pacifier or for some other reason.

Does anyone know what might be in store for us (in terms of pacifier use) in the future? Should we allow her to continue to use the pacifier or should we attempt to wean her of it now?

Regarding pacifier use, I myself would take the path of least resistance and let your daughter enjoy her sucky (as we called them at my house) for as long as she wants. I remember being very attached to my own until peer pressure kicked in when I was 3-years-old and compelled me to give it up. So I figured my own daughter would be very attached to hers, but she lost interest in it on her own at 9 months. I know children who still use their suckies at 3, but it's at night, for comfort, and I don't see anything wrong with that. I've never seen a 4 or 5 year old with one in public, either, so I do think at a certain age they'll move on. You've got to pick your battles in parenthood, and this just isn't worth getting upset about, in my opinion. Good luck.

My son has just gone through the completely dreaded pacifier transition. He JUST turned three and has been declaring that he's a big boy ever since. One night when I was expecting some bedwetting (potty-trained but extra tired child who just drank lots of juice) and trying to put a diaper on him, he shocked me by announcing that he wasn't a baby and didn't need diapers or pacifiers. He hasn't used one for a week, now. He's been cranky at times, but he made the decision that pacifiers weren't problem solvers for him anymore. I think that letting him make this decision was worth the wait- I probably dreaded it more than he did. Whew! Now I can face the dentist...any advice out there?

Please don't get worry about the pacifier! My son used one for a long time. He was 3.5 or older. I was worried so I went to the orthodontist with him because I could see his teeth were bowing out from using it. The ortho told me that as long as he wasn't using it in college, we shouldn't worry. Soon after that the pacificier (affectionately called the binky) fairy came to pick up his binky from under his pillow to be sterilized and given to little babies in need. My son really like this idea espcially since the binky fairy left some money to hellp buy a bat mobile!! That was the end of the pacificer. Doctors say some children have a greater need to suck than others and that it even helps them developmentally. Good luck. Dorothea

My son finally gave up his pacifier when he was 4 yrs 3 mos. He did it on his own for I don't know what reason. He still uses a bottle at bedtime and when he wakes up at 4 yrs 6 mos. For the last year of using his pacifier he didn't suck it, he just rubbed it on his cheek at bedtime. We never pressed the issue. We figured that was his comfy and he should have what made him feel comfortable. Same with his bottle. He can have it as long as he brushes his teeth when he's done. linda

Weaning 20 month Old off the Binky

Aug 2010

My daughter will be 20 months in September and my husband and I have decided we are going to begin weaning our daughter off the binky. When my daughter is in daycare she does not use her binky. In fact, her teacher is able to get her to give up her binky when she enters the classroom and will not fuss. My daughter will go all day without the binky,even for naps. However, my husband and I notice that when we pick our daughter up she is already cueing us to give her the binky and will cry all night if we do not give it to her. The same thing happens in the am before we take her to daycare. If anyone has any effective techniques they have used to wean their little ones off the binky please share. Mom vs. Binky

The description of your daughter's binky addiction sounded just like that of our son (28 months). He would give his binky to his teachers as soon as he entered daycare, but as soon as we arrived to pick him up he'd cry for his binky. He'd ask for his binky during the day at weekends and required it at night. Our ped. dentist suggested cutting away the binky's nipple gradually over a number of days until all the plastic is gone.

I was rather skeptical and was worried about choking risks. But my husband went ahead and cut the binky. We presented the cut-down binky to our son at bed time. He looked disappointed and tried to suck on it but couldn't. He went to sleep without it. The next night he woke up and screamed for his binky. We gave him the cut-down binky. He disliked it and screamed for about an hour. Then fell asleep. But that was that. Gave up cold turkey. He hasn't cried since and now doesn't ask for his binky. Good luck. Non-binky carrier

I have a 2 yr old who also no longer uses her binky at daycare, but continues to use it at home. We only give it to her at bed time, when we change her diaper, or on long trips when she needs to sleep. It really helps ''pacify'' her - no pun intended. Personally, I don't think it's a big deal to let your child enjoy the binky on a limited basis. I remember my parents told me that ''one day, you just threw your pacifier over the fence, and that was that.'' We live in times when there is a stigma about it. Your child will outgrow it one day. For now, it gives them some comfort. In other cultures, many babies continue to breast feed into their toddlers years. I think it's natural. We always give it to our daughter when we change her and ask for it back after we change her, and she does it willingly with no fuss. Or she'll put it back in her crib (or throw it - which can become a game) without us even asking. Not worried about it

Introducing pacifier to 22 month old?

May 2010

My 22 month old daughter never used a pacifier - didnt really know what to do with it, would sometimes chew on one. She just started daycare two weeks ago and I think they have been giving her a pacifier at nap time because she is hard to put down and hard to keep asleep after she wakes after 40 minutes. (I say ''think'' because I saw one in her cubby and didnt really think anything about it, then remembered they asked if she took one and I said she didnt really like them.) Anyways, she was sick this weekend and we offered her one to play with when she wouldnt stop crying. She refused it and threw it down. The next day she saw it right before bedtime and asked for it, so we gave it to her and she had it in her mouth for story time and we let her have it after we left the room. Now, two days later, she's asking for it at nap and bedtime and its obvious that she goes down MUCH MUCH easier (no crying, which she usually does a little of, even more so since daycare started). My question is, are we crazy for introducing a pacifier this late in the game? And what should we be aware of as far as getting rid of it down the road. Honestly, it makes life easier cause she goes down much easier and happier, and she put herself quickly back down when she wakes at 4:30, (which has become a habit of hers), but I am worried we are going down a bad path. Especially since she used to sleep ok without one, before daycare started. Is this a separation anxiety thing? Thoughts? Advice? Thanks. Oakland mom

Oh, I am so jealous. I tried and tried to get my daughter interested in a pacifier, her thumb, anything other than my breast (for comfort). I don't think you are crazy, though some people may try to scare you with ''you'll never get her to give it up!'' which is silly and really, what's the big deal? Even if she sucks a pacifier later than other kids, I'm pretty sure she'll give it up before high-school. The only real issue I would think would be an orthodontal one (is that a word?), so you might check with an orthodontist as to which might be the best pacifier and what issues to keep in mind to protect her teeth. Pro Paci!

Don't do it. Get rid of it immediately. Make sure the daycare does not give it to her. She's old enough that it can affect her teeth and if she's used to not having one already, just don't even go there. good luck

Getting rid of 2 year old's Pacifier

March 2009

My now 2 year old still uses his pacifier during naptime and at night. He's been a great sleeper so I am not anxious to disrupt his sleep but I wonder how long we should let him have the pacifier. He never gets it out of his crib so I haven't been too stressed about it. How long did your child have a pacifier for sleep and how difficult was it to wean him/her off it for good? It hasn't affected his teeth nor his speech so those are not concerns of mine. It is a part of his bedtime routine to get his two ''loveys'' and his pacifier. He'll still have his loveys for security for as long as he wants them. We're not in any rush to get rid of it yet, I just want to start thinking about strategies. Thinking Ahead

Our son used a pacifier day and night. Late in his second year we weaned him off it during the day and allowed him to use it at night. He really just needed it to fall asleep and then it would fall out of his mouth for the rest of the night. So it wasn't so bad for his teeth ( if that's a concern). Around 3.5 yrs or so we were able to reason with him more easily and the weaning processes for night time was very easy. I don't think there i smuch hard in allowing a young child something that sooths him to sleep. When he is old enough, he'll understand when you explain the reason for no longer using the pacifier. If you takeit away too young, it will be much more difficult and sleep will be disturbed. Though, if you think he's ready I'd try it. If he has a hard time with it, give it back and wait a little longer.

Our daughter used hers until she was about 3. Just night and naptimes too. We tried talking with her about giving it up and being a big girl and getting big girl presents if she gave it up...we talked to her about letting the pacifier fairy have them- all the strategies you'll hear about (I did a ton of reading about it all).

Over time we realized this was just making her more anxious. We had only a couple in the house and when night time came I said ''I can't find it'' and that she'd have to make it through the night without it. She managed that and then the next night I was able to say, ''well, you did it last night...'' etc. she never shed a tear and shrugged the whole thing off within days. good luck. deborah

Wow - this brings back memories! I have a daughter who I thought would never give them up. We had about 30 scattered all around the house, and couldn't go anywhere without them. I think that people make a big deal about weaning children off of them early. They bring such comfort. I even know of a few co- workers who could use one occasionally! However, at one point we decided my daughter had to give them up when it became impossible for her to lead a regular kid's life with them. She was constantly taking them in and out to talk and to eat. Her little friends couldn't understand her, and she would use them on the playground and they were often dirty so I had to carry multiples. One day we packed them all up and gave them to ''other babies who needed them - now that she was a big girl'' That worked for a couple of hours until she realized that now she had none. The next two days were awful. Just as she was getting used to not having one, she found one under a chair. She immediately popped it into her mouth. I grabbed it out and said that I had to wash it first. Well, I thought fast and told her that now that she was a big girl, sometimes pacifiers don't taste very good anymore. I had been making dinner, so I dipped the tip of the pacifier in the vinegar that I was using for the dressing, and I gave it back. She put it in her mouth, sucked twice, said ''you're right - I must be a big girl'', toddled over the the garbage and threw it away. She never asked again. I told my story to an old friend going through the same thing. About two weeks ago, I got a note saying the vinegar trick worked really well! It's worth a try. By the way, my little girl is in high school now - no pacifiers. Kristy

On one hand, you doN#t have to worry that at age 15 he'll still have his pacifier -- the argument that he'll never get rid of it on his own is silly. In our case, however, we found that our daughter talked A LOT less when she had her pacifier, and A LOT more when she didn't. We both liked hearing her talk and thought that it was important to lose the pacifier. We prepared her just like the end of breastfeeding: ''Tomorrow there's no more pacifier.'' And then we hid them. There were tears... lots of tears. And to this day (this was abouta year ago, at 20 months...) she still occasionally asks for it. BUT she is both bilingual and way more verbal than her peers. Was it the right decision, or just cruel? Not sure. But it's what we did. kevin

I am a dentist and I have a sure fire way to get rid of the pacifier addiction. I've been reading all the previous posts and people are making it way more complicated then it needs to be. Just get a pair of scissors and cut a little snip out of the tip when your child is not looking. They will pick it up and look at it and maybe put it in their mouth once but then they will be done with it. They may carry it around for a while but who cares? As long as it's out of the mouth by 2yrs old- fine. No need for elaborate explanations, just tell them it's either broken or the binkie bugs got to it. It's worked for every one of my patients who swore their kid had the nastiest binkie addiction. Dr. J

Are you certain you want to get rid of the pacifier now? 2 years is kind of a tough time. The child can't quite be negotiated with yet.

If he's only using it for sleep, I would not worry. We let our daughter keep hers until she was 3. She only used it for sleeping too, and it was never allowed to leave her room once she was probably 1 year old. By then she had a lovey and we used that when she was upset.

When she turned 3, we started talking about the ''binky fairy'' and how she will come take the binkys and give them to new babies in the hospital. The ''binky fairy'' came and took her binkys (left by her on the nightstand) and left her some gifts. It went over well, and DD only asked about the binkys for 2 nights (asked, did not cry about it), and never talked about it again. Even when she saw other kids with theirs, she just pointed it out, but didn't ask about hers.

3 years just seems to be a better time and easier age to do this type of thing. Laura

What worked for me was putting a little cut in the pacifier. The sucking will start getting harder for your toddler & he/she will be getting a little air that he/she doesn't want. You do that for about 2 months then gradually increase the cut. Next thing you know it your toddler will start throwing it. I did it for 2 toddlers so it worked for me. Shelly

I'm not sure why you want your kid to give them up. Just so you know, we raised/are raising 2 pacifier addicts. The first one the ''lolly'' fairy came when she was 3, and boy was that a mistake. She stopped napping, started sucking on her fingers and her clothes, and generally became so miserable that a month later the lolly fairy realized she had made a mistake and brought them back (but unfortunately the naps didn't come back with them.) She eventually gave them up around her 6th birthday! BTW, her teeth have always been fine and it at age 9 it seems that she won't need braces. She never had any problems with her speech. Her sister still uses one at age 5, when she is tired or upset. It hasn't caused any problems with her speech or teeth. So I wouldn't worry about how to get rid of it. Just wait until he seems like he no longer needs it, and then it won't matter how you do it. --mom of 2 ''lolly'' addicts

Helping 2-year-old part with pacifier

Sept 2006

Our pediatrician has advised us to have our son wean himself from his binky when he turns two. There is some advice in the archives about this but the advice is pretty old. Any new/different suggestions about how to make this as easy a transition as possible? Thanks! No more binks!

My two year old girl LOVED her binky (pacifier) and was obsessed with it. She had it for naps, night time and the car and I figured she'd go to college with it! Here's what we did - for a week we talked about the Binky Fairy (similar to the tooth fairy) and how one day the binky fairy would come and leave a present and take the pacifier because she was a big girl now and didn't need it. One night we just bit the bullet and asked her if she was ready for the binky fairy to come with the present, she said she was and we took the binky. (I was completely skeptical, thought this would never work!) She fell asleep without it (shocking) we left her a present of super cool stickers so she had constant reminders of the binky fairy. She never used one again - I am still shocked but it worked! No more binkies!

my sister took her daughter to toys-r-us, after much preparation, told her that she was giving her passy to the babies and in exchange she can pick out a toy. the 2 year old walked up to a sales-person, handed her the binky's, and told her, ''these are for the babies,'' to which the sales person told her, ''okay, thank you.'' and that was the end of it. she still misses them occasionally, but it seemed to work. the thing is, she talked to her about it a bunch before going so her daughter was prepared to let them go anon

We recently saw a great episode of SuperNanny, in which the family made a ritual of collecting all the pacifiers in the house with the help of the 2 y. o. daughter and placing them in a beautiful gift bag with ribbons, telling the daughter that the binky fairy was coming to get them, because other younger children needed them now. They went together and collected them all in the beautiful bag, repeating the explanation that they were going to other children who needed them more, and together hung the bag on a tree in the backyard. The next morning, the bag was gone and another beautiful bag was in its place, filled with a stuffed toy for the two year old and a thank you note from the fairy. This seemed to work quite effectively for this child. Not saying it's guaranteed, but it seemed a lovely tradition to try Calling All Binkies

We got the same advice from our Dr. regarding our daughter's binky. I dreaded taking it away, but a few months before she turned two, I decided it was time. First, we started with the ''only at night and during naps'' rule. That meant, the binky stopped coming with us when we left the house. No problem there.

Then, one night, as we were readinf stories, my daughter asked for her binky and I pretended not to hear her. She asked again, and I just kept on reading, ignoring her request. After several book, I put her down to sleep, as usual, and miraculously, she fell asleep. The first night she woke a few times, but it was nothing major. She was not inconsolable. The light crying kept up for maybe three nights, but by that time, we were DONE with the binks. I was so happy. She stopped mentioning it entirely within a week. It was not as bad as I thought. Mom of a binky lover

my daughter was quite attached to her pacifier at 30 months. what ended up working for us is that every couple days i would take a sterile needle and poke several holes through the nipple. that caused the pacifier to slowly lose its suction. after a month, i then used scissors to make the whole wider until she eventually gave it up on her own since it wasnt as soothing to her. funkymunkyz

I suggest using the binky only for sleeping for a few weeks, then only at night, and then take it away all together. The first night will be miserable, but it will get better. We weaned my then 15-month old from a pacifier. We started with using it just for naps and night time, then we took it away during naps, and then we took it away all together. It was a pretty smooth transition. It completely surprised us, but she adjusted very well. anon

Why is the doctor saying your child has to give up the pacifier? My oldest (now 15) wouldn't give hers up completely until age 5. Her pediatrician didn't think it was a big deal. My husband and I thought she ''should'' give it up a lot sooner, but she wouldn't. In the end, she dropped it herself. She's presently pretty delightful for a teen. I think it's strictly a personal (to the child) thing because my other daughter (now 10) firmly rejected the pacifier. We tried giving it to her during her first day of life, because we thought she, like her big sister, would find it comforting, but no. She NEVER used a pacifier Let it be

I think we made this up on the fly, but it worked for the two of our sons who used pacifiers. We picked a day--Valentine's Day for one, birthday for the other. About a month ahead of time, we begin clarifying for him that big boys stopped using their pacifiers when it got to be Valentine's Day or whatever. We'd mention it regularly in a non-threatening way, and then we kind of celebrated that morning, and that was it for both Maureen

i don't have personal experience with this, but I happened to see a segment on Super Nanny about this. I believe the child was about 3, and was never without her pacifier. The nanny and mom told her that the binky fairy was going to come and needed to bring binkies to younger children who really needed them.

They had a pretty little lavendar bag with ribbons and the child eagerly helped collect all her binkies and put them into the bag. When they were ready to hang the bag on a tree branch in the yard, the child agreed with absolutely no fuss to take the last binky from her mouth and put it in the bag. The next morning they brought her out to the tree and she saw that the bag was gone and the binky fairy had left her a special present. She looked truly amazed and ecstatic. Maybe they edited out some difficult moments, but it seemed to all go remarkably smoothly and she was completely weaned overnight. It seems too easy--but probably worth a try! Good luck! Tracy

Hi We went through the same dilemma with my 3 year old last year. His pediatric dentist advised us to wean him off of the binky ASAP. The pacifier was forcing his front teeth outward. We started out with a pacifier for bedtime only and when he woke up he would spit it out and leave it in his crib.

Then at Christmas time he said he wanted to send his pacifiers to Santa along with with his letter. We explained that some new little babies needed them for Christmas. And that since he is a big boy with a big boy bed he doesn't need them. I held out a large manila folder for him and he placed them all in the folder. He watched me address it to the North Pole and we put it out for the mailman to take.

I snuck it into the garbage can when he taking his nap. I did keep one of his favorite pacifiers for his baby keepsake box and in case of an extreme meltdown. But we never did need to get it out. He would ask for it on nights when he was having a hard time going to sleep. I just reminded him that we sent them to Santa and he was ok with it. Good Luck! natalie

I'm going through the same thing right now, but the good news is I also went through it a year ago with my 1st baby. What was suggested to me & worked was to start putting small holes in the pacificer. Take a safety pin & poke a few holes in it. Don't let the baby see you do it. Then the next week, put in more. You keep doing this until finally your baby will give it up. The air is slowly building up, as the baby sucks on it, the same feeling won't be there. Your baby will take the pacificer out of it's mouth occasionally to take a look at it's pacificer to see what's going on. (it so funny) then the next thing you know, your baby will just not want it or will start throwing it because it's not working for him the way it use to. IT WORKS! Shelly

Weaning 27-month-old off pacifier

Oct 2007

Our 27-month-old boy is still attached to his pacifier. Does anyone have advice on how to get him weaned off it? I have heard that cutting the pacifier is harmful as it allows toxins to leach out of the plastic. Is this true? all-day sucker

We had a severe binky addiction--with twins who were in a co-dependant binky relationship. It was bad. Finally we took a road trip to a place where they ''didn't have binkys.'' Before the trip we talked about it in advance and made a stop half way to visit a friend with a younger child to whom we gave all of our binkys, in a kind of ceremony. It was a little rough the first night but driving in the car helped them get to sleep. The second night (at the place with no binkys)was a little rough as well--but we were psychologically prepared. I think I stooped to using Benadryl. Eventually they just fall asleep because they're so tired. After that night they were pretty much done! And very proud! Back home was another night of the old hard-wired associations but that was it--they already knew they could do it. Just remember that they WILL fall asleep eventually. Use Benadryl if desperate--it's over before you know it--they have astonishingly short memories at that age. Not As Bad As You Think

Everyone has different advice about weaning kids from their attachment objects--pacifiers, thumbs, blankies, etc so I know people may take issue with this approach. We tried to get our son to get rid of the ''binky'' a few times, I guess, before he was ready and it was frustrating and hard on all of us. In the end, we talked with him about how big kids don't use binkies, and we told him that when he was ready, the ''binky fairy'' would come and trade him a ''big kid present'' for his binkies. And the fairy would give the binkies to babies who need them. He said he'd be ready when he turned 4. (like i said, it was hard to make it happen sooner) anyway, the night after his 4th birthday, we wrote a note to the binky fairy and asked him/her to please give the binkies to the babies who need them. in the morning the note was gone, along with the binkies and there was some ''fairy dust'' and a new, big kid present, which was something he had been coveting for awhile. the next day he came home from preschool where he had ''found'' an extra binky. i explained that we had to give it the binky fairy and we wrote another note. This time it was hard for him to let it go--and I reasuured him that it was ok to be sad, and did he want to kiss it goodbye. He kissed the binky, burst into tears and gave me a huge hug while he sobbed. But then he went to bed and never asked for a binky again, even when he saw other kids with them. It is hard (even for adults) to let go and grow up, so I think it's important to acknowledge that children have feelings that are hard for them to express and that you are asking themn to give up something that is very precious and helps them feel safe. It's not just about getting off the pacifier, it's about moving on, and the child needs to be prepared, and to do it when they are ready. been there

We started by limiting the pacifier time to just at bed or just in the car or whatever. Then after a few months of that, we brought up the idea of the Pacifier Fairy who is the sister of the tooth fairy. If you leave your pacifier out she comes and takes it away and gives it to a new baby and leaves a present. We did this for all three pacifiers we had left. It was very gradual and my daughter loved the idea of growing up and getting presents for that achievement. You don't have to do the ''fairy'' idea but you see the basic idea. Take your time and don't struggle with your child but encourage them to move on. It may take a whole year for him to let go of his pacifier so be prepared for the long haul. former pacifier mom

Throw it away! Sounds terrible, but at most you'll have a few bad days, and then things will be better! It works! anon

2.5 year old: Pacifier gone, so are the naps

Aug 2011

I know there are bigger problems in the world, but we said bye-bye to the pacifiers a month ago (child is 2 1/2) and now he won't nap. Bedtimes have become difficult as well. If I had known this was going to happen, I would have ignored the dentist's advice and waited a little longer. Has anyone had this happen and seen the naps return eventually? Any tips for better naps/sleep post-pacifier. Hindsight

One of the nicest, most intelligent bits of advice on parenting that I ever heard was from our pediatric dentist. And that was ''Mental health is more important and than dental health''. Our dentist felt that an over bite could be corrected but anxiety is much harder to fix. When we take away pacifiers, thumbs, blankies or loveys we are taking away what comforts our children. Seriously, what is it about our culture that we push our children to give up what comforts them at age two? Now maybe your child has some extreme dental problem that really calls for quitting the pacifier but if not then I would give the pacifier back. I am not saying you're a bad parent, I just think we are sometimes pushed into making decisions that are not in our child's best interest. I have two kids. One used a pacifier until almost four and gave it up on her own. She has no dental problems at all. My other child didn't use pacifier or suck her thumb and has major dental problems. So is it really necessary for your child to give up the pacifier? anon

Weaning a 2.5-y-o from pacifier without distress

Feb 2007

I have a 2.5 year old who has been a pacifier lover her whole life. She is only allowed to have them (one in hand, one in mouth) in her crib, so relies on them at night, at nap time, and during the sometimes frequent crib breaks she requests during the day. (Her own version of giving herself a non-disciplinary time-out.) I have read all the archives about weaning a toddler from the pacifier, think the binky fairy is a fabulous idea, have begun to discuss it with my toddler (who instantly came up with the idea that she will give her binkys to the fairies at Fairyland ''some day, not yet''), yet I am really nervous about taking them away from her. We prefer not to have our child dependent on pacifiers for comfort when she is an older toddler (say 3.5 years old). Is she likely to give them up before then on her own or are we going to go through this weaning process no matter what? Is there any way to wean her with as little distress as possible and reduce the chances that she will switch to her thumb? Should we expect her nap time and night sleep times to permanently shorten? I am an oral person (love gum chewing, candy sucking, etc.), so I know where she gets this and don't want to remove her comfort too early. ready to be rid of binky

I hear ya about the binky. I have to say though, that we did the Binky Fairy thing and it all worked out, BUT my toddler decided to suppliment with her thumb. Two years later and she's still sucking her thumb! (Only when she's tired and I discourage it outside of the home). My suggestion is to forget about the binky weening and let your toddler have it for as long as he/she wants, but try to keep it in the home (a 3-4 yr old with a binky at the grocery store just doesn't look right!) shoulda kept the binky

Wow, I'm so glad to have seen this question. My daughter will be 3 in June, and is still very much attached to the pacifier, and I too am pretty concerned about how to wean her. I'm really interested to hear others' advice on this, when do you really have to take it away, etc. For us, we stopped letting her have it at night before she was 2, and it was like sleep training all over again, but she recovered relatively quickly. She still uses it for naps, and we let her have it when we travel on airplanes and for night sleeping when we're away from home since it comforts her (it's quite frankly a lifesaver, like a drug for her!) Love the Binky

I too worried about the transition of giving up binky. We began talking with our daughter about it when she was about 2 1/2 but decided to wait since her baby sister was born around the same time. She just gave it up about a week ago. She is a little over 3. I thought it would be tough and didn't want to deal with her not sleeping. It was easy! We asked her what she wanted the binky fairy to bring her and told her that the binky fairy delivered the binkies to new babies who really needed them. She had already given up naps so we didn't need to worry about that so much. It takes her a little bit longer to fall asleep at night, but it's getting easier. She hasn't woken up at night once since giving it up. Wait until she seems ready, then pick a night, stick to it, and be very positive about all the benifts of being a big kid. anon

Oh, I vividly remember this one. I am not sure my son would have ever given up his binky on his own. We chose a birthday (his 4th) for the binky fairy to come and get my son's last binky. Before that, I was not willing to give up the idea of naps, which my son took regularly (as do I -- that's why I didn't want to give them up!). I was very very nervous about this one, as my son was always deeply attached to his darn binkies. However, it all went much more smoothly than I could have imagined. The binky fairy was very generous (brought my son a battery-operated Playmobil crane!), and he was really, really excited about this. For about a week, we got whiny kid at bedtime and naptime, but I positioned the very cool crane where he could see it and reminded him about ''how nice'' the binky fairy had been. After about a week the whininess went away, and he took naps and went to bed as well as he ever had. The nice thing about the 4th birthday was that I could talk to my son about how it wouldn't be good to start sucking his thumb -- his dentist had told thim that. Then, once he agreed that he didn't want this to happen, I could remind him of what HE wanted -- not just tell him to stop. He will still (at 5.5) occasionally stick his thumb in his mouth, when he's had a rough day and is watching his video before dinner, but he's not a habitual thumb-sucker. Karen

The pacifier fairy came to our house when my daughter was 3 years, 4 mos or so. My daughter said she was ready for her to come, but afterwards she stopped napping at all, began chewing and sucking on her clothes (collar, sleeves) and other troubling behaviors. After a month of it getting worse and not better we had to admit that the fairy made a mistake and that she was not ready. We limited them to sleep time, and naps (but she didn't go back to napping). We decided not to make a big deal out of it and wait until she was totally ready to give them up. She didn't end up giving them up until she was 6! She didn't take them to sleepovers and managed to go to sleep fine, but still wanted them at home. BTW, her teeth are fine. --mom of 2 pacifier addicts

I was in your position a year ago. I had successfully weaned my paci-addicted daughter off the pacifier 3 times. My daugter is now 3 1/2. I gave it back the first 2 times because she got sick and I felt bad for her. I weaned her just like weaning from nursing: cutting back use to several specific times, then cutting those times. It wasn't that traumatic and she didn't switch to her thumb. But what I really wanted to tell you was that I ended up giving it back the 3rd time because one day I ran out of coffee and realized I couldn't get through my day without that comfort, so who am I to take the comfort away from my child? She wasn't miserable without it, but I realized (and I have the impression that you do, too) that I weaned her from the paci because I was worried about what people would think about me as a mother and not because I thought it was wrong to use a pacifier and oral comforting strategies. I sucked my thumb until I was 9 and I'm still oral--coffee, mints, gum, etc. The paci is not bad, it's the judgementalness of others that is bad. My daughter's teeth are fine, and so is her speech and oral musculature. Do YOU need to wean her or does she need to give it up? I really came to peace with the subject when I could answer that question for myself. when she is ready

My oldest loved her binkies too and we had Santa Claus take them away when she was around 3 (he needed them for the poor kids). She got a small favor in return - just like the binky-fairy story. She cried for her binky every night for about a month so it wasn't completely painless, but then it was gone. She never took to her thumb or anything, but did get into the habit of having lots of stuffed animals in bed with her. Her night sleep pattern stayed the same, but it was around that time that she started to give up on daytime naps, maybe coincidental. If she sees a binky now (her little sister's) she still sticks it in her mouth the way she used to (more than a year ago) - so I really doubt that she would have ever given it up without some force. The only advise to give you is to replace the pacifier with another comforting object, like a favorite stuffed animal (maybe even a new one). Kitty

I didn't originally post a response to this, because I was looking forward to reading the responses myself. I see most of them didn't answer your specific question : will the child start using the thumb when the pacifier is taken away?

In my experience, yes, that is a concern.

My son is 4. We tried to take his binky away about a year ago at the suggestion of his dentist, but he went right for his thumb, and you know you can't take the thumb away! The dentist doesn't like the idea of the binky but the thumb is worse.

So now, at 4, he still uses the binky to go to sleep. As a compromise solution, his dentist suggested we pluck it out of his mouth after he's asleep. We do this and, although the first few nights he woke up looking for it, he now usually manages to sleep all night without it.

We reason that it's only for about an hour (or less) a day, whereas the thumb could be an all-day every day affair. Because he knows the binky is for bedtime only, he kind of looks forward to going to bed, which is a bonus!

FWIW, I think for my son the binky is more of a security object, or a ''lovey,'' than it is an oral device. He does manage to fall asleep for naptime at preschool without it - I think peer pressure helps there. The absolute panic he goes through when we even suggest giving up the binky makes us willing to stick with the compromise - for now.

I hope this helps in some way. binky mom

Is 2.5 too old to use a pacifier?

Dec 1996

I saw some parents concerned about bottle usage in toddlers. What about pacifiers? Is 2.5 too old to use a pacifier? I don't like the way it looks, but like another mom said, that's my problem, so I haven't pushed too hard to make him stop. I'm more concerned about impeding speech (he's actually a great talker) or problems with his teeth (who knows? he hasn't seen a dentist yet). When he wants his pacifier but maybe I forgot to put it in his diaper bag, he'll suck on something else, like parts of his clothing. He also seems to do without it just fine at daycare (except he gets it at naptime), but evenings and weekends, he wants it all the time.

Our 3 year old son still uses a pacifier most of the time. Although it affects his speech when it's in his mouth, he speaks clearly without it. (And he'll remove it to speak if you say you can't understand him with his pacifier in his mouth.)

At his 3 year checkup, the pediatrician said that the pacifier has caused a very slight bite problem, but nothing to worry about. The dentist we took him to soon after that had no comment.

oh boy, one of my favorite topics... my 2.9 yo loves his passy, in fact he likes to have one in his hand and one in his mouth so that he can switch them at at regular intervals (actual reason behind this practice is unknown to me). he loves to have frozen passies at night and munches away on them. his dentist cringes when he sees him with a passy but doesn't actually say anything negative. i was on the bus the other day though and a woman asked me how old he was and upon hearing the answer very loudly said HE'S TOO OLD FOR THAT PACIFIER, MY BABY NEVER USED ONE to which i calmly replied, he likes the passy and i don't mind it. and the fact is, it is PERSONAL choice, i have said before on this network, if it were a little cuddly toy or well battered blankie, people would think that sort of comfort to be sooo cute!! but a passy, oh my god! the fact is, he does like it and i don't mind. (incidentally, he doesn't use it at pre-school except for nap time, his choice) so, why deprive them of their objects of comfort and security? be it bottle, blankie, passy or stuffed animal...

My kids are now 8 & almost 11, so I often skip the messages about cribs, pacifiers, bottles, etc. BUT, I've read some of the latest ones, and I can't help smiling re: the concern about pacifiers & bottles because it seemed such an issue to me when my kids were 2-4 and now looking back on it, there was absolutely nothing to have been concerned about. My daughter was very attached to both still at 3 1/2, but she did give them up (she decided on her own to give the bottle to a garbage man one day at about 3 1/2, and gave up the Binky soon after.) Her front teeth were slightly protruding because of her habit, but as her dentist had told me, within about 6 months after she quit, they straighted out on their own. Her pediatrician had told me that it seemed to her that the kids who had strong oral needs were often also great talkers and socializers. This is still true of her and I see it also in my 4 yr. old niece who loves her pacifier. (I do think that kids should not be allowed to have pacifiers during pre-school time though, and they seem to understand easily at that age that school and home have different rules.)

On the other hand, my son quit his pacifier before he was 2 yrs, but at some point started chewing and sucking on his clothes. In Kindergarten he came home almost every day with the entire front of his shirt soaked, and over the years he has periods when he still resorts to this habit, so I think, like thumb sucking, it's harder to quit than the pacifier.


Here's some more on pacifiers, if you can stand it!

I have two boys (one now 16 and the other 7&1/2). The elder used a pacifier (which we called by one of its many Spanish names--a bobo--meaning dummy) very faithfully until he was a preschooler. By the age of 4 he had given it up entirely, without any planned action on our part. It didn't affect his teeth, as far as I know. I ignored people who fussed about the inappropriateness of a pacifier for a child his age (whatever age he was at the time they commented). The younger was sucking his thumb within the first half hour after birth, so we figured the battle was already lost. In fact, our pediatrician told us not to try intervening, although we did offer him pacifiers until he made it quite clear he wasn't interested! He continued to suck his thumb until a few months ago--although we did get him to stop sucking his thumb in public when he started kindergarten. He recently started wearing a retainer specifically designed to inhibit thumb-sucking. He has been sucking his thumb so vigorously since birth that the placement of his teeth and the shape of his upper jaw (we're told) have been affected, so he'll have a retainer and other appliances (headgear) for about 18 months. Some people have told us that we shouldn't have intervened, and just allowed him to abandon the habit gradually, but by 2nd grade he really wanted to stop and couldn't manage without help. He would probably revert if we took the retainer away, even though he's been wearing it for few months--it's a very strong habit. There's a side benefit to the retainer that he pointed out to me: now he doesn't bite his fingernails, either. Tamra