Many parents turn to the pacifier to calm a fussy baby, but this easy solution can often create its own set of problems. Experts agree that you need to start weaning by 18 months, to prevent teeth and speech problems. Unfortunately, your child isn’t going to give up his or her beloved ‘bingky’ without a fight! Here are some tried and tested parenting tips on weaning your baby from a pacifier.
Why should you wean your baby from a pacifier?
The longer your child sucks on a pacifier, the greater the risk that he or she may develop a deformity in the upper jaw. This could cause her teeth to become crooked—and braces are expensive!
Studies also show that pacifiers can delay language development, since your baby is less likely to babble if there’s a bingky in his or her mouth!
There are also some studies that link pacifiers with a higher risk for ear infections.
Gradually ease the pacifier out of your child’s routine
Babies are creatures of habit. You’ll upset your child if you suddenly hide the pacifier—and though quitting cold turkey will eventually work (after all, your child can’t do anything about it!) not all parents can sit out the tears and the tantrums without giving in.
One parenting tip is to gradually decrease your child’s access to the pacifier. Instead of letting him or her suck on it the whole day, offer it only before naptime. Then, give it only at night. This gives your child time to get used to falling asleep without it.
Offer other ways of comforting
Babies often turn to pacifiers to comfort themselves. So if you’re going to take it away, teach your child another way to settle down. You can give another comfort toy, or subsittue another calming bedtime routine like a warm bath, a massage, or a special CD of lullabies. You may also like these parenting tips on how to get baby to sleep through the night.
Swith to another brand of pacifier
This parenting tip often works like a charm. Many babies are actually used to a specific pacifier: its shape, texture, the way it feels in the mouth. So try giving a brand new pacifier of a different brand—in many cases, this will be so unsatisfying that they will spit it out and turn to something else to calm down.
Change the taste
Dip the pacifier in something that is nontoxic but has an unpleasant taste. You can try vinegar, black coffee grounds, mustard—anything that will make your baby recoil in disgust.
Offer a trade
Older toddlers may be willing to give up the pacifier in exchange for another toy. For example, you can make up a story about a pacifier fairy who will leave a much wanted toy in exchange for it. Or make a rewards chart, with a star for every day that your child doesn’t use the pacifier.
Weaning your baby from the pacifier is just the start. Here are some parenting tips on weaning your baby from the bottle.
Photo from kosmicamusic.com