This past spring our family went through a lot of milestones with our 2.5 year-old twins. Their baby brother was born in November and until he was sleeping well at night, we put things off like taking away their pacifiers, transitioning out of cribs, and potty training.
One of our twins had started biting her pacifier and making holes in it, and I was unsure how to go about weaning her from the pacifier. But, I knew it had to be done.
Between safety concerns and the fact that our twins were over 2 and a 1/2 years old, I knew we had to get rid of the pacifiers ASAP. In this post, I am sharing the simple process we ended up using to get rid of their pacifiers. So let’s get started reviewing how to get your toddler to sleep without a pacifier!
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When Should You Get Rid of Your Toddler’s Pacifier?
At some point in time your toddler will become too old for his or her pacifier. My pediatrician had told us that the pacifiers should be taken away by age 3. This was a big relief because I had heard various things thrown around from you should never give your baby a pacifier to pacifiers MUST be removed by 18 months old to prevent dental issues.
If your toddler starts biting the pacifier and it rips (like one of my twins), this is a choking hazard and it means you need to start the pacifier weaning process as soon as possible. In summary, you will want to get your toddler sleeping without a pacifier by age 3, or earlier if pacifier use has become a choking hazard.
How To Get Your Toddler To Sleep Without a Pacifier in Only 3 Days
Starting the pacifier removal and weaning process with toddlers will require a little bit of planning to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible. Luckily there is an easy three-step process that will help you get rid of your toddler’s pacifier in just 3 days.
Before we got started, I did a little research on how to get toddlers to sleep without a pacifier. I found this article to be very useful.
More specifically, check out the section titled “How to Stop: The Three-Day Plan”. We followed this very closely and I found it to be so much easier than anticipated. The steps below outline the version we used in our house.
Step 1: Tell Your Toddler the Plan 3 Days Ahead
3 days before, the day before, and the day of pacifier removal, I told my twins they were getting so big and it was time to stop using pacifiers. I also told them there were babies that needed them more than they did and we would send the pacifiers to them.
That was it! I left it at that and they both seemed receptive to this idea.
Step 2: Send the Pacifiers Away
On the day of pacifier removal, we gathered all the pacifiers and put them in zip-lock bags. I made it fun, like a scavenger hunt.
We did this after dinner, so it was close to bedtime. Each twin had a bag of their own. I went with each of them individually and put the bags on our front porch.
I told them the pacifiers would be picked up and sent to babies that needed them. They were very happy about this.
Step 3: No Pacifiers for Sleep
We did our bedtime routine and everything went very smoothly, there were no mentions of pacifiers. My husband and I tucked them in and went to leave the room.
Both girls started crying hysterically and my heart sank. But, we stayed calm and reminded them that there were babies that needed their pacifiers.
This calmed them down a bit and we left. The crying started again, but we were prepared this could happen.
We let them cry and the crying lasted about 5-10 min (although it seemed so much longer). Once the crying stopped they were asleep within 30 minutes or so. Wow!
We were so relieved and surprised at how smoothly it went. I should also mention, at this point in their lives the twins were still sleeping in their cribs.
This helped because they did not have the option to run out of their bed or their room. Crying at bedtime for a just few minutes lasted a couple more days.
Waking up at night or early the next day also happened a few times over the next week or so. The good news is, within 2 weeks both children were fully adjusted to their new, pacifier-free life.
Other Pacifier Weaning Methods for Toddlers
Although I really like this pacifier weaning method because it’s quick, there are other options you can use for taking away your toddler’s pacifier. Three very popular strategies besides the one we already discussed are:
- Cutting the tip of the pacifier
- Having the pacifier fairy come
- Trade pacifiers in for a lovey or stuffy
For cutting a pacifier, you would slowly cut the pacifier tip away over the course of a few weeks. By doing this your baby or toddler will not get the same comforting feeling he or she is used to, so the pacifier isn’t really “working” anymore. This will lead to your child naturally giving up the pacifier over time.
You can also try having the pacifier fairy come. Gather all the pacifiers and put them in an envelope. Bring your toddler to the mailbox and put them in there to send to the pacifier fairy.
At some point during the day, sneak back out and replace this envelope with a present from the pacifier fairy. Then, go back outside so your toddler can find what the pacifier fairy brought to them in exchange for the pacifiers.
Lastly, you can have your toddler make a trade since he or she is getting to be such a big kid. Suggest that your toddler trade his or her pacifier in for a stuffed animal. If this trade happens, be sure to get rid of the pacifier for good (throw them in the garbage).
My Toddlers Pacifier History
As you are considering which pacifier weaning method to use, I thought it would be helpful to give you my own kids background on their pacifier use. One things that’s important to know is that after they were 1 and a 1/2 years old, we only used pacifiers for naps and bedtime.
This was a big help because we did not have to worry about taking the pacifier away when out and about. This made the pacifier removal process faster and easier. If you are reading this and have young toddlers, I encourage you to start only allowing pacifiers for sleeping.
One reason we did not take away pacifiers sooner was because our twins were such good sleepers. We were just not willing to mess with a bedtime and nap routine that worked so well.
Is It Bad For My Toddler To Use a Pacifier?
Pacifiers are not bad as long as they are removed by age 3. In fact, during the first 6 months of a baby’s life pacifiers have many benefits.
If you are reading this, it is likely your toddler is already dependent on the pacifier, which is typically one of the “negative” things associated with using a pacifier. Additionally, pacifiers can end up causing dental problems and middle ear infections with use as kids get older.
These negative side effects also depend on how often your toddler is using a pacifier. If it is just to fall asleep at night, then it is much less concerning than if he or she has it with them all day. If your toddler is dependent on a pacifier throughout the day, then I would recommend removing it in stages.
First, start with taking it away during the day when your toddler is awake. Then, take a break for a couple weeks. And finally, start the process of pacifier removal at night and naptime.
How To Help Toddlers Fall Asleep On Their Own
Before I sign off, I do want to talk about other toddler sleep problems you might be dealing with. If you have more toddler sleep problems than just pacifier use or if you have tried the tips above and are still struggling with taking away your toddler’s pacifier, then this toddler sleep training guide is just what you need.
This guide is written by a mom and certified pediatric sleep consultant. If you need help with any of the following items, then I think it’s is totally investing in it!
- Getting rid of the pacifier
- Stopping co-sleeping with your toddler
- Toddler bedtime battles
- Toddler does not stay in bed
- Toddler night wakings
- Transitioning from the crib to a bed
If you are just completely exhausted from your toddler’s sleep troubles, then grab the toddler sleep training guide TODAY and get your family back to a restful night’s sleep. In my opinion, anything that helps me and my kids get better sleep is 100% worth the investment. Plus, the reviews for this guide are outstanding!
Getting your toddler to sleep without a pacifier doesn’t have to be so bad, especially if you can get through it in ONLY 3 days!
If you follow the steps above, you should be able to successfully get your toddler to sleep without a pacifier in just 3 days. It is important to be prepared for some crying and a few off nights. But, stick with it, and you will have finally solved the big problem of getting your toddler to sleep without a pacifier.