Mommy SOS: Operation Pacifier Elimination

Today’s Mommy SOS comes from Maria of this infamous Ariana airhead moment..

I’d love to hear other real Mom experiences and recommendations with eliminating the use of a pacifier. Jonah uses his at nap and bed time and occasionally in the car. At some point I want to ditch them but he’s pretty attached!

Maria’s question kind of made me stop and think because this is an issue I’ve been really remiss in handling properly…

See, there was a time back many months ago when Jasper ONLY used the paci for nap and bedtime because it had just naturally evolved that way. Then,  right around the same time when Jasper started getting SUPER attached to bear, he also started getting attached to paci.

Fast forward to now and they are part of what I call the “holy trinity” (Jasper Bear & Paci) because if he has one, he IMMEDIATELY needs the other. Like if he finds bear or paci on the floor somewhere he goes running around the house looking for the other chanting “Bear, Bear, Bear” or “Paci, Paci, Paci” until he finds it and won’t be appeased until he has both.

In his little mind they almost can’t be separated and honestly,  I’m loathe to even try, because  bear and Paci are the only things that keep him quiet in the carseat, at naptime, storytime etc.  This  quiet was so hard won that the thought of tampering with our winning formula terrifies me (if you’ve been reading for a while you know that Jasper screamed the entire time in the carseat up until about 10 months old!)

So, I would add to Maria’s question:  If you haven’t yet thought/worried about pacifier use, at what age do you think you will?  Am I way behind the curve here in that at almost 17 months I haven’t ever really worried too much about Paci weaning?

And now, to further illustrate the point a video of Jasper sledding with Paci in his mouth (which my mom thought was hysterical). Also, notice that he asks for Bear while on the sled!

And here’s an image (sans Paci) taken the same day that I’m including just because I’m so excited that Jasper is FINALLY agreeing to wear a hat outside!


Ok, enough about us, I want to know where you are with the Binky/Paci issue? If you’ve weaned already, what worked for you? If you haven’t, when do you plan on it?

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Aileen says:

My cousin used to love her pacifier (she also called it her noo-noo) and what my aunt and uncle did was to have her put it under her pillow so that the noo-noo fairy could collect it, like the tooth fairy. I think she got a play doctor’s bag with stethoscope etc. as a reward from the noo-noo fairy and she seemed fine with it

I will admit it, my 2 year old still uses his pacifier. He’s baby #3 for us (He may be a toddler but he is still my baby) and I’ve gotten lazy. The funny thing about him is that he didn’t really get attached to his pacifier until after his first birthday. I tried to give him on during a plane trip when he was 9 months old and he would have nothing to do with it. A few months later he found one behind his crib and he hasn’t given it up since. I’ve decided not to worry about it for now. I’m just hoping he doesn’t try and take it to kindergarten with him.

Shane says:

@Sarah — That’s awesome!! Did they really keep them or did you swing back around and get them back? I think maybe I would have to sneak one out of the bag to keep.

I always said that my son would not have his paci after he turned 2. So months before he turned 2 we started limiting it to bedtime and naptimes only. Then the weekend before he turned 2 I called the manager of our local Toys R Us and arranged with them to have him come in and “exchange” his pacifiers for a new toy. I of course would pay for the toy, I just needed the cashier to play along. They agreed to do it and I had Josh collect all his pacifiers and put them in a ziploc bag. He then carried the bag for the car ride and walking into the store, then he chose a toy and we went to the checkout. He was the one who had to hand over his bag of binkies, so he knew he had given them away, and then we went home with his new toy. He only mentioned them once more when we were home but after that he never asked for them again. I think I was more upset about giving them away than he was! lol :)

ariana says:

@Sarah, I LOVE that idea!

Yvonne says:

Hey Arianna!
To answer your question, 1) I haven’t been able to get Zacky to sit in a dentist’s chair and open his mouth long enough for the dentist to tell me that the paci is ruining his teeth; 2) S and Z are SUCH different children–Z without paci was a little sad but she got over it in about 48 hours. I shudder to think about the drama that will accompany Z without paci and how long it will last. 3) Second-child syndrome. :)

Raquel says:

our oldest was so addicted to his “noonoo” we tried so many
different things to help him give it up but none of them worked. he was almost 3 when we had the idea of the noonoo fairy! we hid the noonoo in the morning and told him the noonoo fairy had come and taken it away because he was too old and she needed it for other babies. he was completely fine with that and quit cold turkey. looking back at this technique i think it would only work with older kids and perhaps not with some at all. our daughter has never had any interest in pacis so we wont have to try out the noonoo fairy technique again!

For Maya, we use the binky for sleep and the car. I really don’t even make it an option otherwise. So far, so good… she pops it in as soon as I put her in her crib and pretty much as soon as I buckle her in the car. At this point, it’s a help so I have no intention of weaning yet. I’ve read it’s very tough for them until they are closer to 3. So unless we start having major problems with it, I’ll probably worry about it then.

Yvonne says:

Both my children were (are) very oral and the pacifier really met their need for comfort. When my now 6 1/2 year old was 2 1/2, the dentist said that we had to get rid of it or else her teeth would be permanently damaged. At that point we had restricted its use to the crib. I poked a tiny hole in it with a pin and the second I gave it to her she gave it back to me because it wasn’t satisfying to suck (try it, it really changed the feel of the pacifier!). The first night was rough but after that she really never looked back. P.S. She never napped again. So my advice is, don’t take it away until you are fully committed to eradicating it. P.P.S. The above did not dissuade me from offering the pacifier to my now 2 1/2 year old son. He will be much more difficult to get off the pacifier.

ariana says:

Hi Yvonne! Thanks for coming by :) Now I’m curious why you are ok with Zackie having the paci but not Serena at that age!

Adair says:

My friend’s solution for her 2 1/2 yr old was “giving it to Santa” around Christmas. They put it out for Santa with the milk and cookie’s and, of course, Santa took it! She did well for a few nights, but then started asking for it. Luckily my friends stayed strong, but there were some restless nights. Not long afterwards a neighbor was strolling with their baby who had a very similar paci in his mouth. My friend’s little girl got very excited that “Santa gave the baby my paci!” They haven’t had any problems since then!

Heather says:

I’m glad it went over well, sometimes honest, direct answers feel personal or attacking and that’s never my intention. I know that parenting is a tough job and everybody does their best.

I am a nanny. I love what I do and have been nannying specifically for more than eleven years. Before that some camps and daycare settings.

Good luck everybody!

kari says:

ariana – perfect topic. we struggle with this too. dh doesn’t seem to mind the paci and uses it as his “easy button” to help liam stop whining/crying etc. i, on the other hand am not a fan of it anywhere outside of bed/naps/car.

heather – great response – super helpful, i am printing it out!

Samm Ivri says:

Mia never wanted a paci. However, we have a very similar (maybe even worse?) issues with the bottle. She’s gotten used to hugging her dolly while falling asleep with the bottle. And, as you describe, they go together now. Whenever she sees one, she needs the other. I know she’s getting too old for falling asleep with bottles (or having them at all), but I just don’t have it in me to try and cut them out. I guess my point is that is paci/bottle isn’t dong any harm then I just let it go. There are way to many other “NO’s” to cope with! Sorry, I’m not much help here! Haha.

nanette says:

I love all this advice. Our 15-month-old uses her paci mainly for naps/sleeping and the car, which I’d love to break the habit of before she turns two.

I do wonder about the lip/drool correlation, though. My daughter is the DROOLIEST kid I know!

Carol says:

Some strange but proven tips to get rid of pacifier:-

my friend L, put some chocolate on the pacifier and showed it to her two year old and told him that it fell into the potty. somehow, he was “smart” enought to reject it from then onwards.

My friend S, celebrated her girl’s 2 year old birthday with cakes, decoration etc, all the usual stuff AND got her a pair of scissors and did a huge ceremony about her growning up and letting her cut her pacifier up. it worked for her (i think you might want to keep a spare pacifier in case it backfiers!)

As for me, i nagged at my kid every time she took it until she decided to stop ! HA!

Thanks heaps for the tutorials and photography tips! i learnt how to check the light meter from your video ( i never knew that!).. and i am still trying so hard to nail focus. any tips for dummies? like how far/near exactly must I be? ( i have the sigma 30mm 1.4) and i know its hard to nail focus with that for beginners with that!

Maddie says:

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately with my 11mth old. Heather, your advice is brilliant!!! Thanks so much for bringing up the topic, Ariana.

Liz says:

Yes, on center method and yes, on focus on closest eye. I have not tried to toggle yet. Thoughts? (BTW, thank you so much for responding on a non-applicable thread!)

pam says:

Oh, those are great tips from Heather! My two paci-users have the drool thing going on, so yeah, that’s bad. I just don’t think they’re old enough yet to “get” that we’re “giving them away” or “buying a toy with them” or anything like that.

I do think we’re going to start on step one now, though. Bedtime only. Gotta be tough. I’ll just have to get some noise-cancelling headphones for the car. (Kidding.)

Joelle says:

I’ve heard about parents who take the paci to build-a-bear and put it into a bear as a keep sake…

ariana says:

Heather, wow, that was really great information – still soaking it all in! What do you do for a living?

Marybeth, yes, Jasper is definitely less fussy with others than with me (daycare for example!) but no, I can’t have him sleep anywhere else yet for other reasons. He also only uses Paci at daycare for nap and is FINE with that. So I know he’s capable, but he has two completely different sets of rules for daycare and for home and in his mind the two have almost nothing to do with each other!

Liz, are you using center recompose method to focus or are you toggling focus points? Are you focusing on the closest eye?

Heather says:

Just one more thing; cutting the tip. This can pose a safety concern because it weakens the rubber/silicone/material. Pacifiers are made as one piece for exactly this reason, once you cut it you open it up to more breaks, rips and tearing. I also personally think that maiming your child’s best friend quite a different message then helping them to understand they’ve outgrown it. Throughout life they’ll outgrow lots of things, why not take this as an opportunity to practice how you as parent will deal with those times?

Oh, and he was about 16 months at the time. I do think Haiden acts differently (less fussy) when he’s with some other people. Does Jasper do that? Could you leave him at someone else’s house for the night and see how he does? (That might not be nice for that other person if it doesn’t go well!!!)

Heather says:

Pacifier elimination has been part of my job description. It can be a very hard thing for parents as well as kids. All emotion aside, a straight-forward response:
1. Set an end date; make sure the entire team is on board [mom, dad, caregivers, etc].
2. Limit pacifier use to naptimes and bedtime – ONLY. This will help the transition away from pacifier. It won’t be easy and you could just drop it cold turkey, but once you’ve seen how tough this piece is, you’ll appreciate that night’s sleep or few hours of quiet for napping. Sticking with this also builds you both up, shows that you are going to follow through, and sets a precedent for what is to come.
3. Once you’ve established pacifiers are only for when we are in our beds, and have reinforced this limit for at least a month, you can consider moving forward.
4. With such an intelligent, thinking being it is important to treat him as such when it’s time to say goodbye to his pacifier. Creativity is fun at this point but what it comes down to is follow through. Parents have had children throw them into the ocean, river, etc. They have taken their children into Toys’R’Us let them pick any toy they want, even motorized cars, and go to the register and give their pacifiers to the cashier in exchange for the gift. People have ‘bye-bye pacifier’ parties. People have their children pack them up to give to babies who need them because their children aren’t babies anymore and don’t need them. Whatever you choose, however creative, fun or rewarding KNOW that the first bedtime your child will want their pacifier back.
5. If you can be consistent, follow through with the expectations you’ve set, and not show your child that it’s as tough for you as it is for them, then within 72 hours you’ll be done. Yes they will occasionally ask. Yes it will come up again. No they won’t just forget and they may need to talk about it. The important thing is to respond matter of factly. Be honest but not emotional. You are helping them move past this stage in their lives, you are helping them create positive memories or hurtful ones. It’s just another step along the path of growing up, getting to know each other and bonding. Not every step will be easy or fun but often it’s the toughest times we remember the most fondly because they bring us closest.

Now – how do you know when it’s time?
This is different for each parent, family and child. But remember – your entire team has to be on the same page. All caregivers united to nurture and support your baby through this monumental event.

What should you look for?
– Most importantly notice your child’s mouth and lip muscles. Is having the pacifier constantly causing them to drool and be slack-lipped when t isn’t in?
– Are their eating patterns being disrupted?
– Maybe more importantly, is continued pacifier use delaying their speech development?
– Is regular pacifier use causing friction, frustration, negative feelings or fighting between you and your spouse?
– Is it causing fighting, power struggles and frustration between you and your child? Or your partner and your child?
– Is your child less engaged than other children because of it?
– Does pacifier use hinder your child from physical activities? Gross motor skills are very important in the early years, don’t discredit this as important.
– Does your child avoid other children for fear of loosing their pacifier?
– Is your child constantly sick, chapped or whiney? More than other children their age?

You don’t need to answer “yes” to multiple questions, just weigh the pros and cons and consider whether dropping the pacifier would open new and different doors for your child. Crooked teeth are the least concern when it comes to pacifier use. Engaged, happy children ready to go out and explore their worlds with open, ready minds in families that aren’t constantly frustrated with one another or locked in power-struggles are much more important to quality of life than perfect teeth.

Good Luck! When you are ready – just do it!

I’ve also read about cutting the tip off the pacifier, but I don’t know if there are any safety issues with that.

We were so lucky with Haiden’s pacifier. Due to my own diligence of having it clipped on at all times, he was ADDICTED to it. He spent the night at my in-laws and they forgot all about it! They actually left it in the diaper bag for over 24 hours. When they said he slept and napped just fine without it, they all immediately went in the garbage. He’s never asked for it, but sometimes *I* miss it when he’s fussy or overtired.

Liz says:

I have a three month old that will not only not take a paci, he will also not take a bottle (only breast) – so unfortunately cannot provide any advice. BUT, I do have a quick question on my 50 mm 1.8 lens I received for Christmas – and I am a camera novice – it only seems to focus on whatever is foremost in the picture. Not what I am trying to make the focal point. Any advice? ( I am probably opening a can of worms here.)

Kristin says:

This is totally out of place, as our first child is still brewing and I have NO idea how to wean the paci, BUT I am wondering where you get Jasper’s snowsuits? They are absolutely adorable and seeing as we have some pretty cold winters here, I would love to know where you get them for next winter! Thanks. :)

jenn says:

Mia had a fussy (paci) and was very attached to it. and she had a little giraffe blanket she took everywhere. i waited till i knew she was no longer in need of something to soothe her and could calm herself down. i think she was 2 1/2. at this point, she only had it for naps and sleep. Per my ped, it should be gone by 3 for her teeth. I told her she was too old for it, the babies needed it and took it away. she was fine for 2 nights. by night 3 she was beside heself and i had to remind her she was a big girl and was OK. by night 5 she quit asking for it. as for the blanket, she still has it. luca is 1 1/2 and going towards getting his for naps and sleep soon.

jbhat says:

Our new baby hasn’t had one and I don’t think we’ll introduce it. She has been good at finding her fingers for self-soothing. For our first kiddo, we did do use one, and we called it an AMT (Anger Management Tool). It was so funny to hear our kiddo saying “Where’s my AMT? I want my AMT!” at bedtime.

We went cold turkey around 18 months. We just told him it was lost. He was fine.

KaiRayne says:

My oldest never took a paci and my youngest couldn’t live without his. At 18 months, when we started speech therapy, the therapist said that we should get rid of the paci. I was terrified to do so because it was like Draven’s best friend. She suggested cutting the tip a bit to shorten it. If he will still use it that way (which most kids won’t) then continue to cut a little bit off each day or every couple of days to shorten it. Soon it will become undesirable to the child and they will just leave it alone. Draven had two paci’s and I did that with one of them, the other one got lost somewhere. lol After the first cut, Draven didn’t like it anymore. And at 18 months old I could explain to him that it was “broken” when he came up to me with a worried look on his face. He tried to use it but he just didn’t like it so he threw it in the trash. At the same time we introduced a new blanket. So now he has replaced his paci with blankie. He doesn’t want to take blankie everywhere anymore, thankfully. lol He will be 5 next month and he only sleeps with blankie now.

Good luck with the paci wean. Some people will tell you that you should just let the child decide when to stop using it but our speech therapist said it really hampers speech development and to stop using it as soon as possible.

pam says:

Oh man, I need help with this too. Only two of mine use one (the other sucks his thumb, which is good right now, but I guess will be another fight down the line.) They’re 25 months old now, and I definitely didn’t worry about them at 17 months, but now I’m starting to. One of mine is very, very attached to it, and I’m pretty sure there will be no sleep when we take his away. On the other hand, daycare doesn’t let them have them AT ALL, and they’re fine there.

Ugh. I just don’t know.

Jenni says:

funny you posted because I just did this with my 18 Month old- Go to this link and this is what I did- so far so good!!
and here for the results thus far.

Good luck. :0)

ariana says:

Jamie, I forgot about that.. think I read it somewhere too. I’m laughing right now just imagining Jasper’s reaction to a “deflated” paci – it involves throwing things ;)

Lindsay, when you use manual mode it doesn’t matter whether you set your shutterspeed , aperture or ISO first, the key is the RELATION between all three.

To start, I usually think about my aperture and how open I want to go. So if I set that to 3.5 or so, my shutterspeed at 1/160 or so and then I check the light meter. Because I KNOW I don’t want to go below 1/160th SS I won’t want to lower that if I discover I need more light.

So what are my two options? I can either open up the ap more or raise my ISO. Both have pros/cons = opening the ap more means more bokeh but also the possibility of focus issues. But raising the ISO means possibly more noise. Now if your iso was at 100 to begin with raising it up to 200 or 400 is your best bet. Over 400 depending on the camera you might see too much noise, so maybe you want to open up the ap instead, but maybe only one stop and then also raise the iso..

As you can see, it’s a balancing act. But your priority should be a fast enough shutterspeed because without that, you get motion blur which will DEFINITELY ruin an image.

Hope that helps!

Jamie says:

Blake dropped his paci and went for sucking on three fingers so I haven’t had to think about this but I’ve HEARD you can put a tiny hole in the pacifier so it doesn’t create the “vacuum” effect–which is what kids supposedly like? Maybe worth a google? I don’t think hes too old to still take one, but I’ve heard it can get harder to wean the older they are.

Lindsay says:

Hmmm, luckily for us Colin stopped using a pacifier around 2 months old (so we don’t have to worry about weening). But I think I’ve heard that cold turkey is a good way to go, though. That way when it’s gone, it’s gone. There’s no “sometimes you can have it, sometimes you can’t” game to confuse the child!

On a completely different note, I really enjoyed your video on how to use manual mode in relation to the aperture that you want to use. It totally made sense and I’ve started using manual! However, I’ve gotten some CC from the ilovephotography forums (thanks for the referral to that site, it’s awesome!) that I need to be using at least a 1/100, 1/125 shutter speed when photographing my baby. Do you think that you could post a tutorial video on how to set up your manual mode based on the shutter speed? I haven’t found anything from a google search that made sense to me and you are good at explaining things!