How to wean a toddler off the pacifier
Some parents simply refuse to give their baby a pacifier because it is so hard to wean a toddler off a pacifier. In some cases, toddlers throw the pacifier down on their own, but in the majority of cases, parents are sorry they ever used one in the first place. A toddler becomes dependent on the pacifier and has to bring it everywhere.
While there is no specific age at which a toddler should be weaned from using a pacifier, parents try to do this before the child reaches the age of two. Using a pacifier well into the toddler years can cause misalignment of the teeth and can slow down the development of language, especially if the child talks with the pacifier in his/her mouth. If you are having difficulty weaning your toddler off the pacifier, these tips should prove helpful.
Try to take the child’s mind off the pacifier
Replace the pacifier with an object that takes up the toddler’s interest for a long period of time. This does not mean replacing it with something else that the toddler puts in the mouth. It refers to activities where the child is engaged in learning or playing and doesn’t have time to miss the pacifier or to realize that it isn’t available.
If the toddler only uses the pacifier at nap time or bedtime, start substituting something else in place of it, such as stuffed toy, that can give the child comfort and help him/her go to sleep.
Wean the child off the pacifier gradually
You should not just take the pacifier and not allow the child to have one at all. This is like quitting a favorite activity cold turkey and even adults know how difficult this is. Start off slowly by taking the pacifier away a little at a time. For example, you can allow the child to have the pacifier for nap time and bed time, but not at other times of the day.
Let the toddler play with children who do not use pacifiers
Toddlers like to be like the children that they play with. Peer pressure does start early and in this case it can be a positive move. When the toddler sees that the other children do not have pacifiers and you tell the toddler that pacifiers are only for babies, the practice will gradually stop. Praise the toddler by telling him/her that he/she is a big boy or girl, the toddler will gain self-confidence.
Listen to the crying
The toddler will cry for the pacifier if it is something that has been part of the bedtime routine. If you have the resilience and patience, you can just say «No’ and be prepared to listen to the little one cry. Although it will be hard the first night, chances are that it will only take one or two nights and bed time will become just as peaceful as it once was, minus the pacifier.
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