Breaking the Pacifier Habit
For some parents the pacifier can seem like a godsend, especially during those long nights when the action of sucking on the pacifier keeps the baby occupied long enough for both of you to get to sleep. However, this is a habit that you will want to break before it sets into a problem that can grow to epic proportions when the infant reaches toddler age. Many times parents do not address the issue of breaking their child from the pacifier until they are about to enter school, and by then the habit is so firmly entrenched that it can be a large problem to deal with.
A good age to start working on weaning your baby from the pacifier is around three to four months old. This may seem a little early, but it will be far easier for them to give up the comfort of the pacifier at this age then it will be in just a few more months. You will still not want to take the pacifier away from them all at once, but rather try to gradually wean them down from it until they find that they are not missing it at all. You can start to do this by only allowing them the pacifier right before nap or bed time. And, since they are not allowed to have the pacifier, make sure to keep it out of their sight. Just like adults, babies will want objects even more if they can seem them.
This is a gradual step, but by taking it away from them while they are awake, you can be sure to keep an eye out for the beginning of finger sucking. If the baby starts to put their fingers in their mouth as a replacement for the pacifier, then you can gently remove the fingers and shake your head no or tell them no. Not all infants resort to this replacement, but some do, and it is also important to nip this habit in the rear before it starts as sucking on one’s fingers can lead to dental problems later.
Once the baby has begun to only rely on the pacifier for sleep, then you will need to try and get them to take some of their naps without it. Getting them to go to sleep without the comfort of the pacifier all of the time is an important step and once this is accomplished with at least one nap a day, then you can gradually remove the pacifier from more and more instances until it is hardly more than an afterthought to the baby.
It can take up to a month or two to get your baby fully weaned from the pacifier, and if the infant is in a daycare program, then you will need to make sure that you let them know about your rules and guidelines for pacifier use. Sometimes breaking the pacifier habit falls apart when the baby goes to daycare and is allowed to use the pacifier and this can set your schedule back weeks, so be sure to have open communication with their sitters and let them know exactly what you are trying to accomplish and how you are going about doing it.