EXPERT Q&A

How and when do we take the pacifier away?

Taking the pacifier away is a nerve-racking situation for you and your baby. Experienced child development expert Martha Tyler shares some tips on helping both you and your child through the process of saying goodbye to binky. Learn more here.

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Question

I am super nervous about taking the pacifier away from my baby, but it might be time. Can you tell me when and how this can be done?

Answer

I can understand why this is a nerve-racking situation for you and your child, especially since you aren’t sure exactly how your child will react! A pacifier is often a significant part of keeping calm and quiet in the house. The easiest time to take away a pacifier is around 6 to 7 months of age. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends ending pacifier use after 6 months to help prevent ear infections.

However, don’t fret if your child is older than 6 months and is still using a pacifier! Many children say goodbye to their pacifier between the ages of 2 and 4 years old. And while some young children give up the pacifier on their own, others might need a bit of encouragement through the process. 

As you consider weaning your child off of their pacifier, here are some helpful tips.

  • Stop buying pacifiers and tell your child that once they break, they’re all gone! You can also accidentally lose or misplace some pacifiers to help speed up this process.
  • Limit times or places that your child can use their pacifier. For example, suggest to your child that they can only use their pacifier at bedtime.
  • Teach your child some self-calming techniques. A pacifier is mean to soothe—or pacify—a child. Teaching your child breathing or other calming techniques will provide them tools to use when they are feeling overwhelmed. The Calm Down by Blowing Out Candles activity is a great resource if your child is feeling anxious as you forgo the pacifier.
  • You can also introduce the “Pacifier Fairy” who comes at night to take away the pacis, leaving a toy in their place.
  • Read books to your child about saying bye-bye to binky. There are many to choose from, and you can probably find one starring your child’s favorite characters. Here’s a list to get you started:

Change can be so hard, especially for young children who are losing something they rely on to keep them calm. Talk to your child about how they are a big boy or girl and as they are growing up, it’s time to say goodbye to the pacifier. Tell them your plan. And if they seem anxious, make a calendar that counts down the days until they have to say goodbye. You are both on this journey together, and allowing your child to take part in the process can help them get through it.

You can and will get through this, and we’re here for you if you need more help!

Meet The Expert


Martha Tyler

Martha has her Masters in Education and is a certified Positive Discipline Parent Educator. She has worked as a sitter, nanny, tutor, or teaching artist over the past 20+ years. In addition, Martha has hosted a child care podcast, Chronicles of Nannya, for several years. She is also the co-founder of Compassionate Childcare LLC and is thrilled to be able to share her experience, knowledge, and resources with CareNectar!