My daughter used her pacifier until she was 3 and a half years old, and it seems everyone from her teachers to strangers on the street had an unsolicited opinion on it.
“It will ruin her teeth.”
“It will delay her speech.”
“She’s too old for that.”
Some people even went as far as pulling it out of her mouth.
When the time is right for your child to give up the pacifier, like any addiction, breaking the habit can be hard. Here are some tried and true ways to bid adieu to the pacifier once and for all.
Pro tip: With any of the below methods, check for hidden pacifiers in the house. The worst thing is to successfully get rid of the pacifier, only to have your child find a backup stash!
Put it inside a Build-A-Bear
I was a little skeptical of this method, but it worked for us! We made a big deal beforehand that my daughter Ellie would say goodbye to her “bye” (that’s what she called her pacifier). At Build-A-Bear Workshop, she kissed her pacifiers goodbye and put them inside the bear’s heart. An employee there gave us a great tip and advised us not to put them in the bear’s hands or feet, because many children will continue sucking through the animal! She got to make a wish, dress and print a certificate for her new “bye bear.” The first few nights were a bit rough, but eventually, the bye bear replaced her pacifier as she still had some comfort from its presence.
Have the Pacifier Fairy visit
Before bedtime, tell your child the pacifier fairy is coming, and have them leave their pacifiers out in the room so the ‘Pacifier Fairy’ can exchange them for prizes. Great options for exchanges are cuddly plushes or big girl or boy dolls that do not have pacifiers. There are also some adorable books that the “Pacifier Fairy” can leave them, like Stinky Binky, Bye Bye Binky and Bea Gives Up Her Pacifier.
Give them to new babies
If you know a new baby that’s been born, that is the perfect window of opportunity to try to get rid of the pacifier! Have your child put their pacifiers into a gift bag for the new baby. Then, have the baby’s parent take photos of the new child with the pacifier. You can also turn to Facebook groups like MamaTribe. Many times, at your request (because we’ve all been there), other moms will be happy to share photos of their child with the same brand pacifier so you can show your own child that their pacifier is being put to good use.
Bury it together
Just like you’d think of making a time capsule, dig a hole in your backyard and bury the pacifier alongside your child. Make them feel like they had a hand in it. Tell your child that the pacifier will bloom into beautiful flowers after it rains.
Cut off the tip
Some parents swear by this method, which could take two to four weeks. Cutting off the tip disables the sucking power of the pacifier. If you gradually cut the tip little by little, the school of thought is that your child will eventually drop the pacifier altogether.
Dip them in something sour
Similar to the school of thought to kick the habit of biting your nails, kids will eventually stop sucking the pacifier if they associate it with poor taste. Dip them or soak them overnight in vinegar or lemon juice, which are both safe and unappealing options for children. The terrible taste is sure to eventually turn them off.
Tie it to a balloon and release it
Let your child pick out a balloon and tape a hand drawn photo to it (maybe a last photo of them sucking the pacifier) so they feel like they are involved in the process. Tie the pacifier to the bottom and let it go together.
Slowly wean it from your child
Start with taking the pacifier away during a long car ride, then move onto nap time and finally, bed time. Eventually your child will learn to self-soothe without it.
Have Santa or the Easter Bunny exchange it for gifts
Depending on the time of year, put the pacifiers in a bag for Santa or the Easter Bunny and tell your child they will be replaced with presents. You can even take it a step further and have your child hand it to Santa or the Easter Bunny when they do photos with them.
Just go cold turkey
Sometimes the best way to break a habit is to go cold turkey, but be prepared for a rough few days ahead.
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This article originally published on June 6, 2014. It has been updated with the most recent information.