If you provided your child with a pacifier or a dummy, you might come to regret it if they are unwilling to give it up, or are suffering from some form of separation anxiety. Some children are just inconsolable if you take their soother away from them. And while there is no hard and fast rule regarding an age limit when a child should be able to willingly hand over their pacifier, pediatricians do agree that by one year of age, they should be ready to easily give it up. But, as we’ve already mentioned, this can be quite traumatizing for some children. In the event that you are dealing with such a situation, in a moment, we’ll provide you with some useful tips.
First of all, let’s understand why it’s important that your child should no longer be sucking on a pacifier by one year of age. By this time a youngster is already beginning to develop speech, and use of the pacifier could compromise this. If a child consistently has a dummy in their mouth, all they are going to be doing is babbling around it, instead of learning how to speak properly. Additionally, since the mouth has been in an unnatural position for longer than it should have been, the proper development of lip and tongue muscles may have been impeded, thus causing further speech problems.
While this is a very significant reason for wanting to separate your child from their pacifier, there are other reasons as well. You don’t want your children to develop a psychological dependency on their soother, and then traumatize them when you take it away from them, which you will eventually have to do. Since a child will wake if they have lost their soother during the night, the use a pacifier can also impact their sleep patterns, which will in turn impact your sleep. Pediatricians are also in agreement that the risk of an ear infection is dramatically increased in children who use pacifiers. And lastly, think of your baby’s smile, as the use of a pacifier can lead to the misalignment of teeth.
Tips and Solutions
Now that you realize the importance of permanently removing the soother from your child’s mouth, let’s talk about some ways that may make the process easier for you. All of these tips have proven to be successful for others, but if you find the process to be particularly problematic, you may want to talk to your pediatrician to find out about other possible alternatives.
- Build a Bear. This idea is actually quite ingenious as many children are attached to a teddy bear. You might be exchanging one crutch for another, but at least this is not going to impact their speech development. If you have a Build a Bear location nearby, why not to take your child, let them choose the type of bear that they want, and have their soother sewn inside with the stuffing. They will not have their pacifier available to put in their mouths, but they may be soothed in knowing that they do still have it close by.
- Educate your child. Clearly, this is going to depend upon your child’s comprehension skills, but there are several children’s books that to deal with the giving up their soother. Why not read these books with your child.
- The Dummy Fairy. Sort of along the lines of the tooth fairy, you could have your child place their soother under their pillow when going to bed one night, only to find it replaced with a gift in the morning.
- Phase out. This method means that you begin limiting the places where your child can use their dummy, and as time passes those locations begin to diminish, until eventually, there’s only one place they can use it, and then no place at all.
- Say goodbye. Why not set up an occasion when your child can formally say goodbye to their pacifier. You can specify a time or event when this will happen, and prepare your child for it. When the time comes, your child can formally throw out their pacifier. It’s also a good idea that they be aware that there will be some form of reward for them completing this process.
- Shop for a reward. Perhaps you can come to some sort of an agreement with your child, whereby if they are willing to part with their pacifier, you will take them shopping for a new toy or game in exchange.
Toddler dummies. Pacifiers and soothers come in a variety of different types, some for infants and others designed specifically for toddlers. If you transition to a toddler dummy from an infant dummy, this may be all you need to do as the toddler dummy will have an entirely different feel in their mouth. If that doesn’t work, and they just become accustomed to their new pacifier, at least this style won’t have as great an impact on them, as these are designed in such a way that they won’t impede speech development.