Wondering when to take away the pacifier from your baby or toddler? Keep reading to learn the best time to take away the pacifier and how to wean it!

baby holding binky in hands

Does your little one love their pacifier/binky/dummy? Maybe a little too much?

I’m here to help you figure out when it’s time to take away the pacifier and how to do it.

What Age Should A Pacifier Be Taken Away?

Most kids will be able to use a pacifier without problems until they’re around two years old.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says that pacifier use can cause adverse dental effects after 2 years, but mainly after four years.

Similarly, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends stopping pacifier usage around the age of three.

That being said, it is easier to wean the pacifier before toddlerhood. I find that between 5 and 12 months old seems to be the sweet spot to go paci-free.

baby standing in crib with pacifier in mouth

Taking Away the Pacifier from a Baby vs. Toddler

Once your baby reaches 5 months old, they don’t have as strong of a need for non-nutritive sucking. They’ve also gained some practice in independent sleep skills and self-soothing methods like sucking on their hands or fingers.

The 5- to 12-month window is a good time to start the pacifier weaning process if you feel ready.

Taking the pacifier away from a toddler can be a little trickier. They’re older and can voice their displeasure much stronger!

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    How to Know It’s Time to Take Away the Pacifier

    You’ll know its time to wean off of the pacifier when it begins to interfere with your little one’s sleep.

    Is your baby waking at night and unable to get back to sleep because they’ve spit out their pacifier? Or maybe your toddler has started to throw their pacifier out of the crib because they know it will get you to come into the room.

    These are both signs that the pacifier is no longer a helpful sleep association, and is more of a distraction.

    If you’re having other sleep problems and want to sleep train, getting rid of the pacifier at the same time can be incredibly effective.

    I encourage the families I work with to eliminate the pacifier at the same time as sleep training, so they don’t have to make the transition at a later time.

    toddler girl with multiple pacifiers in mouth

    How to Get Rid of Your Toddler’s Pacifier

    It can be very hard to take something beloved away from your toddler, especially when it’s comfort-related.

    That’s why it can be easier if you help your toddler quit the pacifier cold turkey.

    If you try to take the pacifier away in increments or keep it around for certain times but not others, be prepared for a longer process.

    Try not to introduce pacifier weaning at the same time as any other big changes, such as weaning from breastfeeding, starting preschool, or transitioning to a toddler bed.

    One big change at a time is plenty for your young toddler!

    The Pacifier Fairy

    I recommend giving your toddler a visit from the Pacifier Fairy!

    Not only is this method quick and efficient, it’s also gentle and helps give your toddler a role in bidding their beloved binky bye-bye!

    The Pacifier Fairy method helps you pick a specific date when the pacifier goes away. Replacing the pacifier with a new comfort item (like a new lovey, or stuffed animal) also gives your toddler something to look forward to!

    It’s also helpful to identify a toddler sleep training method to start at the same time as pacifier weaning. Starting a sleep training routine at the same time can offset some of the pacifier withdrawals.

    mom holding pacifier in hands

    How to Wean Baby Off of the Pacifier

    Just like with toddlers, the pacifier weaning will go more smoothly if you don’t stretch out the process over the period of weeks or months.

    Cold Turkey

    You’ll get the quickest results if you take the pacifier away cold turkey and pair it with a sleep training technique if your baby has a hard time going to sleep without it those first few nights.

    It’s not really possible to communicate with a younger baby and explain the weaning process, which is why I like the cold turkey method.

    Wean Gradually

    You can also achieve a similar effect by decreasing the pacifier nipple size over the course of a handful of nights.

    FridaBaby makes a Paci Weaning System that has five different pacifiers with decreasing nipple sizes. This system is meant to gradually decrease your baby’s reliance on pacifier soothing.

    I haven’t worked with any families who have used this, but I see how it could work for a gradual wean.

    How Long Does It Take to Wean the Pacifier?

    It depends on your baby, their age, and how you wean them from their beloved binky.

    The first few days are usually the toughest. Stay consistent and within 1–2 weeks your baby’s sleep schedule will be back to normal.

    No matter when you choose to wean off of the pacifier, it’s most important to stay consistent and hold firm. There will probably be some tears, but I promise the transition will be over soon.

    Once your baby is completely pacifier-free, their sleep will be less disrupted and more restorative!

    If you have questions about when to drop the pacifier, leave them in the comments below and our team will help you troubleshoot.

    Solve your Toddler Sleep Troubles

    Grab my Toddler Sleep Training Guide to help you with your toddler’s sleep. Get your toddler out of your bed and into their own using the most effective sleep training techniques for toddlers and big kids. This guide also includes tips and tricks for tackling toddler’s sleep. Get it here.

    Amy Motroni
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