The BIG question on your mind is how to get your toddler to sleep without a pacifier. This past spring we went through a lot of milestones with the twins.
Their baby brother had been 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. I was not sure how to go about it, but one of our twins had started biting her pacifier and making holes in it.
Between safety concerns and the fact that the 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 used to get rid of their pacifiers.
Please note, there are affiliate links in this post. Read my privacy & disclosure policy at the bottom of this page to learn more.
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 wear 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.
My Toddlers Pacifier History
First, a little history on the twins’ pacifier use. 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. Besides having a newborn, we did not take away pacifiers sooner because the twins were such good sleepers.
We were just not willing to mess with a bedtime and nap routine that worked so well. I did a little research on how to get toddlers to sleep without a pacifier and 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.
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.
So, let’s review the steps below.
Step 1: Tell Your Toddler the Plan 3 Days Ahead
3 days before, the day before, and the day of pacifier removal, I told the 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 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 it in the garbage)!
Is It Bad For My Toddler To Use a Pacifier?
Pacifiers are not bad as long as they are removed by age 3 (as mentioned above). 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 he or she 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 Your Toddler Fall Asleep On Their Own
Do you have more toddler sleep problems than just pacifier use? Or, have you tried the tips above and are still struggling with taking away your toddler’s pacifier?
Then you might just need some extra toddler sleep help. In this case I highly recommend investing in this toddler sleep training guide written by a mom and certified pediatric sleep consultant. If you need help with any of the following items, then this guide is totally worth it!
- Getting rid of the pacifier
- Stopping co-sleeping with your toddler
- Toddler bedtime battles
- Your 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 solve the big problem of getting your toddler to sleep without a pacifier.
Always interesting reading how other parents manage transitions such as stopping using a dummy (im from the UK!) great tips #wanderingwednesdays
Thanks Cheshire! I learned something new too, I have not heard the term dummy for a pacifier before, good to know if I’m ever in the UK.
I have a toddler and these are some good suggestions. I think I may try it. With my first two I cut the tip of their pacifiers and told them it was broken. It worked great for my first born, but my second wasn’t having it. Maybe I will try a new strategy this time around.
I’ve heard about putting a pin hole in the pacifier too. If the strategy we used didn’t work, that was my next move. Good luck this time around.
This is great. We are just at that stage right now. Our twins will be 3 in April. We took daytime pacis away in June, potty trained in October, and we are getting ready to get rid of the nighttime ones. You make a great point – while they are still in cribs. Yes, our boys are, too – so we need to get on that! We’ve told them that babies need their pacis – we just need do it! Did you go in at night when they were crying for their paci? Thanks for sharing! #wanderingwednesdays
Hi Katie, sounds like you are about 6 months behind us with your twins…potty training, taking pacis, crib transition, etc. the crying at night wasn’t as bad as I expected luckily. But, yes if they cried we went in, made sure they were okay. Reminded them the pacis were sent to babies, then left. If they cry again, I would let them cry since you checked on them. Or you can check on them in longer intervals. Good luck!
What? Another mom fail of mine. I give in and let my 3 (almost 4) year olds have it at home and at night. My twin boys are not in cribs but it is time to get rid of it! Read about my mom fails here: http://www.momlove101.com/2018/01/31/my-three-mom-fails-please-help/
Below someone mentioned putting a whole in the pacifier. My boys will suck on it cracked and all! I know that is a choking hazard. This is why they must go bye-bye!
Good luck Tal, stay strong. I think if you follow the tips here you will have success.
How long can it take to adjust? We took our 24 month old’s pacifier two weeks ago and naps are barely happening. She used to take a 2.5 to 3 hour nap every afternoon in the moment we took away the pacifier it takes her 1-2 hours to fall
Asleep and sometimes she has skipped a nap. She’s content in her crib, playing and singing, but this is driving us nuts because we know she needs a nap. anything we can do?
Hi Raquel – thanks for your question and I’m sorry you’re dealing with a nap strike, that’s always stressful. I did not have this problem and it took my kids about 3-4 days to adjust. I did find this article, I’m not sure if you read it yet, but it might be helpful (scroll to more thoughts from Lauren): https://www.lololullaby.com/blog/tag/pacifier+weaning
If you toddler really needs her nap, I would think she will get back to it soon. If she’s happy and not crying in her crib then that’s still a win and you can still have a break at least. One thing you could try is putting her down for her nap a little bit later than usual, maybe about 30 minutes.