When it comes to a calming a fussy baby, sometimes the pacifier can seem like a magical thing. It can soothe and calm our babies down instantly. But sooner or later, it might be time to start considering ending the pacifier stage. Beyond a certain age, when your baby continues to sleep with a pacifier it can hinder their development by creating dental problems for them in the future as they continue to grow. To avoid this, read on to learn when your baby should stop sleeping with a pacifier and how to help wean them off it.
Start to Limit Use of a Pacifier at Age 2
The opinions surrounding the use of a pacifier will differ according to different experts. The general recommendation is that up until the age of two, your baby can use the pacifier as they like since they have an innate urge to suck. The sucking motion has been shown to help soothe them as a natural reflex when they feel distressed. But once they hit the age of two, it’s a good time to begin weaning them off their use and dependence of it. Whether it’s sucking on the pacifier, thumb, or both, it’s recommended to discourage these acts around this timeframe to allow them to develop the higher levels of stress management which usually begin to emerge around this age.
Eliminate Use of Pacifier at Age 4
By the age of four, it’s time to leave the pacifier behind. Hopefully, by this age the weaning off from age two will help make this transition as easy as possible. At this stage, pediatric dentists recommend having your child stop sleeping with a pacifier to avoid any associated dental problems in the future. This is also the average age that most kids are okay with letting go of their pacifier (with maybe a little more convincing if necessary).
How to Wean Them Off
Of course, every child will differ with what will work for them. But one of the more proven and effective methods for encouraging your child to wean off their pacifier is by focusing on how big they’re getting. Encourage the idea that your child is becoming a “big kid now” and how a part of getting older means saying goodbye to some of the little items, like their pacifier. Speak to them in a gentle yet firm tone and tell them that they’re “a big girl,” or “big boy now.”
Some families use the “Pacifier Fairy”. You can tell the child that when she is ready, she can put all the pacifiers in a designated spot and Pacifier Fairy will take them to bring them to babies. The Paci Fairy will bring a present the child really wants in exchange. Baby deedee founder Dominique de Bourgknecht said “it cost me a box of magna tiles but that was the end of the pacifier for my son Mateo. He complained a bit the first night but then never looked back!”.