What Age Should Babies Stop Using Pacifiers?
The day Elle turned 6 months old, a reminder titled “Stop Soother” popped up in my phone. If you read my previous post, “The Soother Debate Part I: Are Soothers Bad for Your Newborn Baby?“, you’ll already know that I had carefully weighed the pros and cons and had decided to introduce a soother to my newborn baby. However, in my research, I had discovered that at 6 months of age, the cons of soother usage began to outweigh the pros.
At 6 months, the chances of a baby forming a habit or reliance on the soother increased. As did the chances of ear infections, chances of interference with oral motor development, and possibility of teeth misalignment. All were clear signals that it was time for Raffi to hit the road.
The only issue, however, was that Raffi was Elle’s BFF and she zero wanted him out of the picture. This was an issue I thought I’d have to deal with when she was eighteen years old, not 6 months! So, I approached the issue by using these five tips to limit, and eventually stop, her pacifier usage:
5 Tips to Getting Rid of Your Toddler’s Favorite Pacifier
Limit pacifier use to specific times and slowly decrease usage: I set limits and only allowed her to use the pacifier when she was in her crib for her naps and for bedtime. Gradually, I removed the pacifier for nap time.
Place the pacifier in one place and ensure it stays there: Since she was only using the pacifier for sleeping, that is where it stayed. I only removed it to clean it, otherwise it never left those four crib walls and offered no out-of-bed temptation!
Swap the pacifier with other ways to calm the baby first: I upped my dad game and when Elle got fussy, I cuddled her, rocked her, walked with her, or (ultimate dad move), started to play a game with her. She usually/always became distracted and did just fine.
Encourage self-soothing: My softie heart learned this one the hard way. My usual reflex when Elle would cry would be to figure out what was wrong and solve the issue as fast as possible. Instead, I would let her cry for a few minutes first and see if she could learn to self-soothe. As an up-and-coming independent woman, she absolutely did.
Swap the pacifier with another toy: I’d love to say that Elle was loyal to Raffi to a fault, but she wasn’t. I strategically placed Raffi substitutes in the form of other stuffed animals around the house, and she barely noticed the loss.
Good luck in breaking your little one’s almost-habit!