How I Weaned My Baby From the Pacifier
A newborn baby has an innate reflex to suck — a reflex that is developed even before he or she is born. It is one of the most important reflexes — one that sustains him or her. When a baby demonstrates the sucking reflex, it is not always a hunger cue. Sucking is an enjoyable activity, which is why so many babies take to a pacifier at birth. According to the Encyclopedia of Children's Health, 75-85% of children in Western societies use a pacifier for comfort. The use of a pacifier is a great way to soothe your baby to sleep and has even been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS by up to 90%.
There will eventually come a time when your baby becomes too old for the pacifier. Moms tend to have different views on the right time to wean a baby from a pacifier. Most pediatricians and dentists recommend that a child be weaned from a pacifier by the age of two. If your baby isn't weaned by the ages of 12 and 18 months, a pacifier weaning intervention will likely need to occur. After he or she reaches one year, a child begins to become attached to objects that bring them much comfort, such as the pacifier. If you Google”how to wean a child from a pacifier,” you will likely be overwhelmed with all the different suggestions and methods. Natalie Hoage wrote a helpful article with 8 tips to get you started here.
All three of my boys loved their pacifier. I introduced one right from birth, and it did not cause any sort of nipple confusion. I personally don't believe that exists. My first son was a pacifier addict, even after I weaned him from the bottle around 15 months. He was one of those kids who would probably be sucking a pacifier on his way to kindergarten if I had let him.
Around 19 months, I finally decided it was time for it to go. At that point, he only used it to take naps and soothe himself to sleep at bedtime. I told him about a week before and then reminded him daily leading up to the big day. Then I cut all the tips from his pacifiers. The look on his face when he tried to suck from it on that first night at bedtime was of shock and utter confusion. He tried to suck on it a few times, then looked at me and started to cry. I panicked at first, but then I reminded myself it was for the best.
I told him his paci was broken, and then he threw it out of the crib. It took him nearly two hours of on-and-off fussing to put himself to sleep that first night. The next night, it was a little easier, and by the third night, he soothed himself within 10 minutes. About two weeks after that first night, he stopped asking for “paci” altogether.
My experience with my second son was very different, since we did extended breastfeeding well beyond his second birthday. I weaned him from his pacifier just after his first birthday, and it didn't phase him at all. Funny enough, my third son stopped using his pacifier at eight months. Even when I wanted him to use it to soothe himself, he was not interested in it.
What was your experience weaning your child from the pacifier?