Perhaps the biggest question of all for new parents is – “how do I get my baby to sleep through the night?” If you struggle as much with you baby’s sleep patterns like we did, then you know that any help on that area is very welcome.
And the pacifier works wonders for some munchkins.
It gets them all calm and relaxed, ready to literaky sleep like a baby.
But yes, eventually the time comes when you need to wean your baby off the pacifier. The problem is that your little one won’t fall asleep without it. How do we get our baby to sleep without the pacifier?
That is exactly why we compiled a few hacks and strategies that you can get to use right now to get your baby to sleep without a pacifier.
Know When to Ger Rid of The Pacifier
Many parents out there feel guilty for letting their babies to use a pacifier. But there are actually some pros and cons about using it. Let’s go over some of them so we make this clear.
Pros of using a pacifier
- They are soothing – as we have already mentioned, babies have a sucking reflex which helps them to self-soothe. Pacifiers use this reflex to help baby settle.
- They may help to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) – SIDS is one of the scariest things that you will come across as a parent. While nobody knows exactly the cause of SIDS, studies have shown that the use of a pacifier in babies may lower the risk of SIDS occurring.
- They offer a distraction – whether you need to take baby’s attention away from something like a shot, or as a means to put baby to sleep when they are fighting against it, a pacifier can help to provide the distraction that just might stop their fight
- They may relieve discomfort during travel – for those who have been on an aeroplane, or on a car trip that has gone over a mountain, you may recall the uneasy feeling of your ears needing to “pop”. While for adults, this can be remedied by “yawning”, newborns do not have this reflex, meaning they may become quite uncomfortable during trips. The act of sucking on a pacifier can help to reduce this discomfort.
Cons of using a pacifier
- They can become a source of reliance – babies can become extremely attached to their pacifier, particularly if parents or caregivers use it as a first line of defence. It is always best to use a pacifier as a last resort to help baby learn the skills to self-soothe without their pacifier.
- They can interfere with baby’s feeding habits – particularly those breastfed babies can find it difficult to differentiate between how to suck on their mothers nipple, and how to suck on the pacifier, and as many breastfeeding mothers know – you do not want to make this experience any harder than it already is!
- They can cause dental problems – while general pacifier use has not been shown to have negative effects on the long-term dental hygiene of babies, many children who have prolonged pacifier use may experience a change in the shape of their mouth long-term.
- They can cause ear infections
Knowing your pros and cons is important because there is no reason to put pressure on your self or your baby to ditch the binky (shout out to our Canadian readers) too early.
The best time to get baby to stop using the pacifier
Many doctors believe that babies that use a pacifier should continue to do so until they are one year of age. But just as many doctors also argue that a baby can continue to use a pacifier for as long as they feel they need to.
Some babies will wean themselves off their pacifier in their own time, while others will challenge their parents with the biggest battle of their lives thus far.
Many in the know believe that between the ages of four to six months is the easiest time to wean your baby from their pacifier. At this age, baby will not remember something that is not directly in their face.
Older babies who have become familiar with their surroundings and who remember routines tend to remember that they like their pacifier at specific times of the day, for example, nap time.
However, while this may be the EASIEST time to wean your baby, that does not necessarily mean that it is the BEST time to wean. At this age, baby is still in the higher risk of SIDS, and they may still find it difficult to sleep without being soothed.
Wean your baby off the pacifier starting during the day
So you decided that your baby is ready to ditch the pacifier but you’re afraid you are going to lose those peaceful nights of sleep again.
If this is you, then perhaps weaning your child from their pacifier slowly from the age of six months may be the best option. At this time, choose when you feel that baby most benefits from their pacifier and times when they can live without it.
Start removing the pacifier around those times your baby needs it the least, like during the day for example. Continue to gradually reduce the use of it around these times over the coming months.
For those parents of baby’s coming up to the age of one and over, this period of weaning can be much more difficult.
By starting to wean it off during the day, you will slowly remove the habit from your baby’s routine. Which is yet another reason why it is important to keep a good consistent routine for your little one.
This way she will much more easily understand that the pacifier isn’t a thing anymore, since it pops up less and less in your baby’s routine.
Try going cold turkey
Specially for those parents with babies over the age of 1, maybe it will be more difficult to follow the advice we give on the paragraphs above.
At one, a baby will be quite attached to their pacifier. They can react and throw tantrums when they don’t get their binky even during the day.
Even worse, they probably directly associate it with sleep.
So, the number one step here is to teach your child other ques to know that it is sleep time.
For example, try introducing a special sleep-time only teddy or blanket (hot tip: buy more than one as your child may become attached and if it gets lost or damaged, all hell may break loose!).
So if this you, what about just completely going cold turkey?! Remove all pacifiers from your house and buckle down for a rough few days ahead. Things get rough in the beginning. You will probably get some not so peaceful nights of sleep. But do not worry Momma and Daddy – it will pass!
And the advantage is that it may actually be a faster process altogether. So, hang in there if you decide to go cold turkey.
Related: Stop Changing Diapers at Night
Extra tips on how to get baby to sleep without a pacifier
So, regardless of whether you are weaning your baby off the pacifier or going completely cold turkey, you probably will need whatever extra help you can get to get your baby to sleep without the dummy. Here are some simple but helpful tips that may make it easier for your loved one to fall asleep without depending on a pacifier:
- Cuddles! – All babies love warm cuddles and often, this is all it takes to soothe a baby or toddler. Some light swaying or rocking will often quicken up the process. For many babies, this is all it takes to get them to sleep.
- Ensure that baby’s room is as dark as possible – Just like adults, babies will always sleep better in darkness.
- White noise – Contrary to what many people believe, babies actually sleep better when there is a constant noise around, rather than complete silence. It has been hypothesized by many doctors that babies thrive with white noise as it reminds them of their time in the womb with the sounds of their mother whooshing around them.
- Warmth – ensure that your baby is dressed appropriately to your family’s climate. This varies everywhere you go, so take the time to conduct some research into the best layers to put your baby in to sleep. Be sure to include a swaddle or a wrap in your layers as this gives baby a sense of comfort when they are not in their Momma or Daddy’s arms.
- When all else fails, practice will help. It may take some time, but baby will learn to sleep (eventually). Babies thrive on routine, so develop a rough or strict (depending on your family’s lifestyle) routine that outlines your day, including scheduled nap times. This will help baby to understand when they are expected to sleep, and they will naturally fine tune their internal body clock to suit the daily routine.
Hang in there, baby!
When it comes to sleep – or lack there-of – and babies, this can be a really sore spot for many parents. Without sleep, everything in our lives becomes harder.
The choice on how to help your little one sleep is a big one, and it ultimately comes down to what works for you and your baby.
Remember, there is nothing wrong about letting your baby enjoy her pacifier. But if you feel that it is about time your baby or toddler loses the binky, know that the first days will be the hardest.
Just try the steps outlined above and keep the consistency.
You may just find that one of them clicks for your baby and all of your problems will be solved.
Unfortunately, you may also find that your precious little bundle of joy hates everything and just refuses to sleep regardless of what you try. To this we say, hang in there, Momma and Daddy, this too shall pass. Your baby does not mean to destroy every possible sense of sanity in your body – we promise!