Getting Rid of the Binky: Weaning Off the Pacifier

If your child is anything like my older son, the pacifier was a like an addictive drug. It soothed him immediately. It was both a comfort and a necessity. He needed it. He wanted it. He had to have it.

We had to have pacifiers in the car, in the crib, when we rocked and read, in stroller, during a meltdown, after a meal, after a bath, before we got dressed. He was a feign. Slowly we started cutting the pacifier down to only car rides and naps (and meltdowns) which was extremely hard in itself. We went from having hoards of pacifiers around the house to trying to keep them strictly in the crib or the car seat.

Wes wanted to hold multiple pacifiers. He hid extras in his sleep sack and buried them in his toys for later, when we weren’t looking. We had to move them out of the kitchen since figured out the storage spot and started pilfering them. Mind you, he was 16-24 months at this time of “withdrawal.”

At two years old we decided enough was enough. It wasn’t good for his teeth/jaw/mouth per our dentist and was starting to feel like a really bad habit overall. We decided to go ‘cold turkey’ from then on out.

One day, we just made all the pacifiers disappear.

He would cry, beg, plead. He would put his hands in his mouth and sob. He’d flip and scurry around his crib, throwing around his blankets and stuffed animals searching panic for his little blue pacis. I didn’t know those stupid silicon things would some day make me feel like a horrible, terrible, guilty, mean mom. But we had to do it.

During normal play time, he forgot about them – but car rides, meltdowns and bed time was rough for four straight days. We would apologize, tell him the pacifiers had to go away to new babies, comfort him the best we could – but man – it was tough.

And then it was over, just like that – they were gone and he seemed to forget about them.

Sure, we had to find new and healthy ways to help him find comfort and ways to self-soothe during challenging times – but he got the hang of it. Sometimes he still put his hands in or near his mouth when he is stressed out or sad. As if there is a phantom pull to do this – place where the pacis once were. He doesn’t want other people’s pacifiers, he doesn’t ask for them any longer. Poof! We are paci free!

The four techniques we evaluated when we decided with method to use to get off the pacifier were:

Cold Turkey

Get rid of them. Rip the bandaid. Expect meltdowns, begging, sadness. This is how my mother did it to me, and how the world turns…

It kind of sounds mean, but the other approaches can be painful in their own right. Let’s face it, taking away something that offers comfort and control to your child is really, really hard and sad.

The Slow Disappearing Act

Slowly start restricting when and where the pacifiers can be and go until there is only one place and one left. At some point you will have to take that one away too – but perhaps by doing this slow (and potentially also painful) transition, your child will be more accustomed to finding other ways to find comfort.

The Pacifier Fairy Godmother

If you child is old enough to comprehend and accept the Fairy Godmother technique – this sounds nice!We thought about it but our son wasn’t up to this kind of language development and comprehension level needed yet.

Get a nice gift baggie or little box to wrap up all the pacifiers. Write a note to the Fair Godmother together – decorate it, adorn it, smoother it in fun and festiveness – then leave it out for her at night. She will come and collect all the pacifiers and leave a nice present in exchange!

New Babies Are Coming to Town

Have your child help collect and box/package up the pacifiers for all the new babies coming into the world! Write cards, decorate the box – whatever you have to do to make it special and fun – then together you’ll “ship them off” to the hospital for all the new little ones being born. Sounds nice, right? We’ll see.

God speed!