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How to Wean a Toddler Off a Pacifier

If you've waited until your child is old enough to offer resistance, you'll need a subtle method to help them kick the pacifier habit. Here it is.


  • Step 1: Take away the daytime pacifier Start by not having a pacifier handy throughout the day when they want one. If they want their pacifier, they need to go get it.
  • TIP: Tell all your child's caregivers that you are weaning them from the pacifier, so that they won't unknowingly sabotage your efforts.
  • Step 2: Eliminate during naptime Once their dependency on using the pacifier during the day has waned, start eliminating the pacifier at your child's naptime. It helps to offer a comforting substitute, such a special toy, stuffed animal, or blanket.
  • Step 3: Emphasize the substitute At bedtime, begin emphasizing the need for the substituted object over the pacifier. For example: Ask, "Where is 'Tiger?' It's 'Tiger's' bedtime too. We have to find 'Tiger' so you can help him fall asleep."
  • Step 4: Tell them they don't need it After successfully reducing the pacifier to an "also-ran" at night, introduce the idea to your child that they are a big girl or boy now, and probably don't need a pacifier anymore.
  • TIP: Use positive reinforcement by praising the times your child has done without the pacifier.
  • Step 5: Give it away After a sufficient period of positive reinforcement, enlist your child's help to solve the problem: A baby you know cries a lot because he has no pacifiers. "How can we help? Maybe we can give the baby your old pacifiers so he'll be happy and stop crying."
  • Step 6: Bribe them Offer a reward as a replacement – a new toy, or something your child has expressed keen interest in getting. Reach the following agreement: Tomorrow, the two of you will give their old pacifiers to the baby; then you'll go to the store to get that present.
  • TIP: If you don't know a baby to whom you can transfer the pacifier, tell your child you're giving it to a "birdie" or a squirrel, and leave it in the backyard for you to pick up and throw away later.
  • Step 7: Follow through Follow through. Get the agreed-upon reward directly after accomplishing the hand-off, and again, heap on the praise every step of the way. Throw in a little for yourself too, for a job well done.
  • FACT: Did you know? Sucking is an instinct, and sometimes occurs even before birth.

You Will Need

  • Patience

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