Whole Parenting Family

How to Wrestle Away Your Baby’s Pacifier

So some children never use a pacifier, and some parents are vehemently opposed to its use, but some of us have a middle ground approach to it. SuperBoy has used one off and on since he was probably 2 months old. At this stage, 21 months, he only is allowed to use it for naps. There was a day when he forgot about and I rejoiced! But then he remembered it the next day when he saw one on the counter. Why didn’t I have the good sense to have eliminated all of them? When is too old to use one (subjective question, probably) and if you want to cease its use, how do you go about doing that?

1) Age limit for pacifiers?

My reading & polling of fellow parents provide a myriad of answers to the question for age limit for pacifier use. Mostly everyone seems to agree that around 12 months, both for medical and psychological reasons, pacifier use should be limited or eliminated. Hm. We’ve blown past that, but maybe our limited use doesn’t make us totally terrible parents.

See Baby Center’s article here, Mayo Clinic’s assessment on pacifiers in general here, Mamapedia has this to say about pacifier use here, and one of my favorite resources, Berkeley Parents Network says this on babies here and toddlers here.

2) Weaning it away.

Dr. Sears answers parents’ questions on how to wean from a pacifier at 17 months here and at 3 years old here. He’s not a big proponent of pacifiers to begin with. The weaning way seems to be comprised of slowly replacing whatever its primary uses are with either other objects (or persons) or distraction. Child gets agitated in the long car ride? Teething biscuit or sippy cup. Child has a boo-boo? Offer the breast or other soothing massage & rocking while he or she experiences the worst of the pain. Trouble going to sleep without it? Start a different night routine or take it out once he or she has fallen asleep. Provide a lovie or blankie to be a soothing presence instead at night.

Our pseudo weaning approach has been to have them completely out of sight except at a nap when he asks for it. Of course, he’s clever enough and has enough short term memory to ask just about every time.

3) Cold turkey.

The prevailing thought in this camp appears to be to cut off the tip so that the pacifier no longer can be a sucking agent. Then endure either nonchalance by the child, or spastic screaming crying for a few days. It’s a gamble! But also means everything moves more quickly (?). Perhaps, but I’m always reticent to be cold turkey about things for children based on the complexity of their needs and attachments.



  1. Imen Bouzgarrou on March 20, 2012 at 10:01 am

    When Lena was 18 months old, she did have to forget the pacifier since I was pregnant for the second time and just thinking about dealing with so many pacifiers at home for each child, drove me crazy. It wasn’t easy but we did it.
    At first , I tried just to hide all the pacifiers and I resisted every naptime or bedtime when Lena started to cry looking for her “Nana”. it took her almost a week to forget about it (that’s what we were thinking). But, the following week, when she saw a baby in the playground with his pacifier, she tried so hard to get it from him (with all the screaming in the world…)
    That made clear in my mind that she’s the one who has to throw away the pacifier. With the guide of my mom , I did cut the tip of ALL her pacifiers. every day I put 2 or 3 pacifiers on the counter top and every day Lena was excited to have them. but once she put the pacifier on her mouth and tried to suck, it was a “NOOO”. every time she trough the pacifier and tried another one. finally she got it, no one worked. we ended by no interest for the pacifier anymore, it was her decision. even after we saw many babies with their pacifiers, but it didn’t mean anything for her . the pacifier page was turned for us.
    my advice : do it, cut the tip of the pacifier and let your child decide himself to move over.

  2. The Heart of the Matter Blog on March 20, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    This is what the danes do… I can’t believe I just read to two pacifier stories on the same day! What’s happened to my bachelorhood – http://www.denmark-pictures.com/the-pacifier-tree.html

    • Novice Natural Mama on March 20, 2012 at 2:17 pm

      One of the craziest and yet most sweet things ever. I love the notes the kids wrote to them. Rites of passage are important!

      Two pacifier stories in one day. Seriously 🙂

  3. Novice Natural Mama on March 20, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    I cannot believe she tried to take another child’s on the playground!!! That is so funny! It sounds like you did a good blend of weaning her from it, and yet still letting it be ultimately her decision. How can children be so smart as to not forget things easily?

    Thank you for sharing your insights, mama!

  4. mothering spirit on March 20, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    My older son was a total pacifier addict when he was a baby. As he grew closer to a year, we started limiting it to naps and bed only. Then one day when he had just turned 13 months old, I decided in a burst of inspiration to go cold turkey. I simply put the pacifiers away and when it came down to put him down for nap that afternoon, he went without. About four minutes of protesting later, he went soundly to sleep and never asked for it again! Which taught me that we might have been more hooked on the sleep aid than he was. 😉

  5. Liv on April 6, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    We took V’s pacifier away cold turkey last Saturday. I was so stressed about her using one in the first place and about taking it away. The whole phrase, “Oh, it’s just a few sleepless nights and then its over” is SO not comforting or encouraging! When do you ever want to take on sleepless nights? But, I knew it was time and better to deal with it sooner than later. I had the impression that V was very dependent on her paci to calm down and sleep. The first night she cried for about 50 min, then fell sound asleep (yes, some of her cries sounded like the only thing she ever loved had died). She woke up a few times at night, but was comforted back to sleep. The second night she fell asleep sooner, but woke up a lot. The third night she fell asleep curled up around her plastic cup (her new lovey of choice….strange choice? yes.) and slept the whole night through for the first time in….well….its too long to remember! Since then she’s been sleeping so well and if given her purple cup to hold onto, falls asleep with no problem. No sleepless nights for us!

    • Novice Natural Mama on April 8, 2012 at 7:46 pm

      Great advice! And helpful to know. We’re going sans pacifier tonight and we’ll see how it’s going.

      That is hilarious that she loves her cup. 🙂 What a sweetie!!

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