First-time moms often wonder if they should try pacifiers at all. Both my babies loved pacifiers, and we found them so helpful for soothing baby when we couldn’t be near (in the car) or when we were trying to teach baby to self soothe (fall asleep without being rocked/held/nursed). Yet, we had no trouble at all phasing out the pacifier. This was not because my babies were ready to move on.
We stopped using the pacifier at 12 months with both of my children. At the time, they still loved the paci, but we had limited pacifier use to sleepytimes and car rides. I suggest that you start trying to limit pacifier use and frequency around 4-6 months when the sucking urge is starting to diminish. And, from the beginning, only offer the pacifier when other methods of soothing (rocking, talking, playing) are not working or are impractical, such as in the car. At 12 months, you’ll have a child who does depend upon the pacifier to go to sleep and settle down. But, the secret is, that your child is ready to move on. He just needs your help.
My super-easy, totally awesome trick for ditching that pacifier at 12 months… Take one pacifier and cut off the tip of the nipple. Leave a bit of the nipple “trunk”. Just use scissors to cut off the tip. Put all of the other pacifiers away where your child will not find them. Now, give this chopped pacifier to your child when you’re ready to go cold turkey. Baby will pop it in and then give it a suck, only it won’t “work”. It just doesn’t suck the same, though it feels pretty much the same to baby’s mouth. Most babies will take it back out and look at it. Put it back in. Fuss a little, but as if to say “what’s going on here?” The beauty of this moment is that the child does not feel that you withheld anything. Mommy is not to blame, it’s the pacifier that’s not working.
Both of my children fussed and cried a little bit the first time I gave them the chopped pacifier. They were frustrated, not distraught or emotionally affected. Continue to offer the chopped pacifier at appropriate moments (next naptime, car ride, etc). After offering this “broken” pacifier 2-4 times, your baby will not want it. She may even it hand it back to you! On day 2 or 3 of operation “Phase-out Pacifier” do not offer the pacifier at all at a critical moment. See what happens. If you’ve succeeded, your child will not even notice. With both of my children, we transitioned from pacifier-dependent to totally pacifier free in 2 days, with no traumatic upsets for baby or mommy!
Note: I began to incorporate “lovey” blankets into my babies’ sleep routines at around 6 months old. By the time they reached 12 months, they had some affection for the blanket. I believe that allowing them to maintain the lovey blanket at sleepytimes made it much easier for them to phase out the pacifier. Now, my 3 1/2-year-old still sleeps with her lovey. I certainly have no plans to phase out the blankie. I mean, if she still wants to bring it to sleepovers when she’s 6, that’s her choice!