In The 5 Pacifier Pitfalls, I shared with you the many benefits and risks associated with over-use of the pacifier and the importance of sharing that information with families as a guide for responsibly navigating our paci-pushing world. Now that you have educated your patients’ parents on the pluses and pitfalls of the pacifier, what do you suggest when their baby is ready to “give up” their sucking habit…oh wait, let me rephrase that… what do you suggest when the PARENT is ready to take away the baby’s pacifier? Yes, that’s more truthful, now isn’t it?!
Again, as the families’ SLP and trusted resource for all things infant and toddler, you can suggest the following tried-and-true strategies:
- Cut back on the time that the pacifier is available to the child.
If the pacifier has been available to the child all day, every day, suggest cutting back its availability to only nap and bedtime. Be sure to only have the pacifier available at those times and out of sight for the rest of the day.
- Provide the child with an additional comfort item.
If the child’s only “lovey” is the pacifier, having a back up “lovey” will still allow the child a comfort when their first choice is gone.
- Warn your families that routines may change when weaning baby from the pacifier, especially if it is used as the child’s primary comfort item.
When the pacifier is gone, the child may need assistance with calming. Swaddling, rocking, singing and some extra cuddles may be necessary temporarily until baby learns how to calm himself without the help of a pacifier.
- Give the child’s pacifier away to a new baby.
Sometimes parents can convince the child to give up these items with some incentive. However, it is suggested that the new baby receiving the child’s old pacifiers not live in the same house. It will be more difficult for the child not to suck on a pacifier if there is one nearby. Some parents are also able to negotiate a trade with their child: “If you leave your pacifier under the Christmas tree, Santa will take it with him and leave you a present!” If the child is ready, this trick is a gem!
The Cold Turkey Method
- If the baby is not ready, he/she may find something else to suck on, like a thumb or fingers.
- If the baby is ready, this method may work just fine. Suggest that if going cold turkey it is a good idea to rid the house (or at least baby’s line of sight) of all pacifiers. If they remain in the cabinet or drawer, baby will know and will want them!
So we wish you good luck as you lead families and help them navigate their way through the magical world of the paci. The pacifier holds a strong spell on many little ones, but with the right guidance when our families are ready, we can help them help their children kick the habit!