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How To Wean Baby Off Of A Pacifier

Think it might be time to think about taking away the pacifer? Here's how to wean baby without too much of a struggle.

Although pacifiers may have been a huge help soothing baby in his or her first year, Preeti Parikh, MD, a pediatrician in New York City, says that babies should give up their pacifiers by age one since by that time sucking is no longer an important source of soothing. The good (and bad) news: There's no one weaning strategy that works on all babies.

One way to wean: Gradually and subtly, so your toddler barely notices the transition. Between 6 and 12 months, try using it only for naps and bedtime. (And occasionally for teething, by putting it in the fridge first.) By 12 months, eliminate the pacifier from naptime. By the time you cut him or her off in the crib at night, their pacifier dependence will have largely passed.

Or, you can tackle the issue quickly and directly. Explain to your son or daughter that they're a big kid now, it’s time to stop using the pacifier, and you’re going to take it away in a week. (Or five days, or three, or whatever works for you.) As the day draws closer, remind him or her that it’s almost time to give up the pacifier, and tell them that when they give it up they’ll be able to go to the store and pick out a new toy. Play it right, and you might even find that he or ske kicks the habit and is ready to head to the toy store before the deadline arrives. Some parents make it ceremonious, and tie the pacifier to a balloon that their child can let go.