Here's how I weaned my toddler off his pacifier habit in one day (by accident!)
Author: Shakira Kavanagh, Co-Founder of Boss Mama
Since becoming a mother, I've realised that people have very strong opinions about whether or not a baby should use a pacifier and if so, for how long.
On the debate of whether or not a child should use a pacifier - I am on the pro side. Why? When your baby is little and unable to communicate or understand reasoning, a pacifier is a very simple and effective way to soothe them. Babies are born with the natural instinct to suck - a pacifier fulfils that sucking instinct if a baby still needs it even when they're not hungry.
Some breastfeeding mothers don't use pacifiers and instead use their nipples as the soother, which is why many breastfed babies wake up plenty of times at night to look for mummy's nipple - not because they are hungry but because it's their soother. If mummy is happy with this, then no problem. But, if mummy finds being the soother tiring, a pacifier might be the answer for some well earned undisturbed sleep.
Personally, I was an exclusive pumping mother, so I couldn't use my nipples as a soother for my son. Pacifiers were a no brainer for me. And they worked, he loved them!
But then, he loved them a bit too much. Well into toddlerhood, he'd still ask for his pacifier in car rides and whenever he got a little tired and cranky and would only fall asleep while sucking one. And of course, because he was already a big boy, soon came the comments from adults around him.
"Eh are you still a baby?" "Eeee why are you still using a pacifier?" "Aren't you already a big boy, tak payah la puting tu."
I have to admit, I got quite annoyed at people trying to shame my son for enjoying his pacifier. It's not hurting anybody! Plus, I used a pacifier till I was about 5 years old and I turned out pretty normal so I don't think pacifier use has any long term effects!
But now that he's 2+ years old, he was starting to be the only kid his age who had a pacifier. I'll admit that I did procrastinate on weaning him because I didn't want to go through the crying that I had anticipated.
So here's how I accidentally weaned my son off of his pacifier in just one day:
Pacifiers need frequent replacing so I had just bought a pair of new pacifiers that I swore would be my last pacifier purchase. I threw away the old pacifiers and gave my son a new one, which he accepted immediately of course.
In addition to sucking on his pacifiers, my son also liked chewing/biting them. One day, I noticed a small hole in his new pacifier. Since the pacifier was still new, I decided not to replace it until it got worse.
It was a matter of days before the hole got really bad and one day when we were out and about with only that 1 broken pacifier on hand, my son rejected it because it wasn't nice to use anymore. He asked for a new pacifier and I didn't have one so he just had to deal with not having one.
Example of a broken pacifier. My son's pacifier wasn't this bad, but it was getting there.
I was kinda nervous. "Oh no, is he gonna lose it?" ran through my mind. But next thing I knew, he fell asleep in the car without using a pacifier. No tears, just a little bit of annoyance that the only pacifier on hand was one he didn't like anymore.
At that moment, I decided to just roll with this one broken pacifier. When we got home and it was time for bed, he asked for his pacifier and I showed him the broken one which he continued to reject. So, he begrudgingly accepted that he had to sleep without a pacifier.
The first thing I did after that was hide any good pacifiers so he wouldn't accidentally find them. And then, every time he asked for one I would explain to him that he's a big boy and doesn't need one, and then name his close friends and cousins that don't use them either and say he's a big kid like them.
It worked! Ever since he rejected the broken pacifier, he hasn't needed one for naps, sleep, or general soothing. Ta-da!
These pictures were taken when he fell asleep after rejecting the broken pacifier.
TLDR; Give your toddler a broken pacifier that will make their sucking unpleasant, and don't offer any good pacifiers as an alternative. It'll be a matter of days, or hours in my case, before they've kicked the habit for good!
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