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Pacifier addiction/regression at almost 3

Dec 2009

My daughter is 4 months shy of turning 3 and recently became more attached than ever to her pacifier. She's simultaneously expressing some distress about becoming a little girl (i.e., the other day she said, ''Sometimes I like being a little girl, but mostly I like being your baby. I don't know why.'')

She sleeps 12 hours a night without a peep, and part of her sleep success is because she puts herself back to sleep with her pacifier at night. If we go cold turkey when we take the pacifier away, I feel like we'd have to let her cry it out. I also anticipate a lot of tantrums when we don't let her have it during the day.

Also, she really has no other transitional object and we do a lot of traveling.

Can anyone offer me advice on this one? I'm terrified of the day we take that binky away from her! Cynthia


We had a binky loving boy. The best advice I got was to get rid of it all at once. Her doctor had told her that the binky was more important to the parents then to the child. Kids are SO adaptable.

We used the binky fairy. Child gives binkies to all the babies in the world, leaves them out in a basket and the binky fairy takes them to other babies and leaves a present. We even had a niece be the binky fairy in the shadow of night.

We prepped him and found out what he'd like. The present can be a comfort toy or whatever she'd like. She may have a few restless nights, but the goal is for her to learn to sleep without the binky eventually right? I'm sure she'll adapt and you may help her a bit in those first few nights, but she can do it.

I wish we had gotten rid of them earlier because they became more of a hassle...make sure we have a few binkies on a trip, what if they get lost, we were facilitating it more often then not.

good luck whatever you do, but know that it's not as big a deal as you may think to her. binky survivor


Hi Cynthia, My daughter will be 3 in January. Last April when her dentist found out that she still used a pacifier, he told me that I had to get her to stop before it started damaging her teeth. I panicked because she loved her paci, but I knew he was right and that it had to stop sometime. The longer she used them the harder it would be.

I picked a deadline. I chose the last day of school before summer break. For the three weeks before we talked about it a lot. We talked about how we loved the paci, but we won't be able to use it anymore after the last day of school because it was hurting her teeth. A few times a day I would say something like, ''Do you remember what the last day of school is? It's the last day of the paci too!'' When the day arrived we had a picnic dinner on the floor in the family room to celebrate the paci. We talked about the paci a lot. At the end of dinner I got a box and we went on a paci search. She put all of the paci's in the box herself. (I did a big search on my own before. They were stashed everywhere.) When she went to bed, I took the box, threw away the paci's and put a Cinderella dress with tiara and jewelry in the box for her to find when she woke up. That first night she needed a bit more comforting at bedtime. After that she would ask for a paci and I told her that we don't have them anymore. Then she asked to wear the dress. She wore the Cinderella dress over her pajamas to bed for about 3 weeks. Then she was fine. She still wears the dress to bed sometimes. It went better than I expected! Good luck! Email me if you have any questions. Stephanie


Please, please throw out those pacifiers today and bite the bullet and let her scream. She will get over it.

My niece is 2.5 yrs old and is a full-time pacifier user. At Thanksgiving dinner, she was trying to sing Old MacDonald but couldnt articulate anything so it sounded like mumbling. Her verbal skills are poor and her pronunciation stinks and her parents boast of reading her ''1000 books by age 2''. Who cares when she is almost mute?

By avoiding tantrums and cry it out, you are doing a great disservice to your child. Pacifier kids babble less, and the pacifier interferes with speech development. Its not too late, just do it. AA


Our almost 3-year old was addicted to his binky. Shortly before his 3rd birthday we started telling him about the binky fairy who would come and take his binkies and give them to new babies who needed them and would leave him a present in their place. It was a disaster. He had nightmares about the binky fairy, hid binkies, cried at the thought of losing them.

So we completely backed off. But even after a year, he was still sad at the thought of losing them. He was down to just 1, which he used mostly at night (all we allowed at that point), and once in a rage he threw it somewhere and we couldn't find it for a few days (really). So he had to live without it and by the time we found it, he was mostly over having one so we didn't give it back.

We checked with his dentist and doctor and both thought it was okay for him to have one, so we didn't push it.

We started with saying he couldn't use it outside, then only in his bed (though he could lie down and use it whenever he wanted). Anon


Where's the problem? Does having the pacifier bug you? If not, let her keep it. She won't use it forever. It seems to me you have your answer: she uses it to go to sleep, she finds comfort in it, so why take it away?

Our second child, my three year old son, loves his pacifier. I don't like him using it all day, because I can't understand what he's saying, and he ends up with a huge wet spot on his neckline of his t-shirt. Here's what I do: if I see it laying around, I casually pick it up and put in on something - top of the piano, top of the fridge, kitchen counter. If it is out of sight, then he forgets about it. Sometimes he asks for it, and I let him have it for one minute, then I take it away. When he does ask for it, though, it's a pretty good indication that he is tired.

At times I get really irritated that he uses it, but then I ask myself why? He uses it, not me. It's not hurting anyone. Many people have opinions, of course, and tell me that he is too old for it, but really, who cares? He'll stop when he's ready. There are so many things to worry about; why add to the list? pro-binky


I don't see why she has to give up the pacifier in the day or night. What does it matter? She'll give it up herself eventually -- it's not like she's going to head to Kindergarten with her binky. My three and a half year-old daughter still uses her pacifier intermittently throughout the day and on most nights. She goes to preschool without it and doesn't miss it there. My older son used his until he was over four, I forget exactly when. He's fine, his teeth are fine, etc. I don't see why it matters
Probably, your daughter is going through a developmental phase, this frequently causes regression as a child is trying to master a new skill (cognitive, emotional or physical). Because it is a phase, it will pass!

However, I would like to as you why you would feel the need to take the binky away anyway? Are you afraid she's still going to be wearing it around her neck as she walks down the hall in high-school? Trust me, she won't. Your daughter will eventually give up the binky all on her own, with no drama or trauma, probably sooner rather than later. In the meantime, it is causing no one any harm for her to have it, so why make it an issue if it doesn't have to be? Pick Your Battles.


Is there really any reason to take the binky away?

Dec 2007

We let our little one use a pacifier. She loves it and doesn't have any other lovey. We have tried transitioning her to another lovey with all the methods out there-- swapping it at more and more sleep/comfort times, etc with a blanky/stuffie, hyping up and trying out the ''binky fairy'', gradual, but strict just not letting her have it, and so on. But no go, she just loves that binky. Something stressful would happen and I would let her have it back (she has been weaned from it 3 times). I have spent hours on the internet trying to find out why it is so bad for her to just keep the pacifier until she gives it up on her own. The absolute worst thing I can find is that she will need braces (since both her parents had braces, this is probably inevitable anyway). So the problem is the expense of braces, as far as I can see. Many people, even complete strangers have incredibly negative reactions to the binky. Is there some scary reason I'm missing? Has anyone out there just let their kid use the pacifier and regretted it? Have misaligned teeth from using a pacifier severely impacted your child's life? I have spoke to many parents who have regretted taking it away, but no one has ever told me or written on a website that they wish they had got rid of it. She has no speech problems and is very articulate for her age. Please be aware that I have no qualms taking it away and keeping it away-despite the history of giving it back to her in the past may make it seem-if there is real harm being done. I just can't find a real reason. I personally don't have a problem with her having it. It makes her happy and doesn't seem to be causing any harm. Is this a problem in the long term? sa


How long term are we talking here? I really think that 3 is too old and I would also have a very negative reaction if I saw a 4 year old with a binkie. I think you are confusing your child by weaning her off it and then giving it to her when ''something stressful happens''. What is happening? What child would not be soothed by having her mom just hold her? You will have to find other ways to calm her down, yes. As for the consequences, I think it must impede speaking if it's in her mouth a lot. anon
While you are correct, the biggest physical problem is braces this is not a small one. You are only considering the cost but it can be painful from time to time. So what are you going to do when she has braces and it hurts and she doesn't want to get them tightened? you can't protect her against everything and this is causing her physical harm...becuase it's damaging her teeth. My friend just went through this with her daughter. at 2, her teeth had already shifted. the dentist said if she stopped using it they can go back. So she went home, explained t to her and took it away. She asked for it all night long. Interestingly enough she did not cry at all, she was pissed off and wanted it. because that's what she is used to. At the end of that night she NEVER asked for it again. And when she sees one she points at it and smiles. There are going to be MANY more instances in life when things like this happen...you might want to prepare her and you for it!
Well, my daughter cannot bite well with her front teeth because they won't meet -- the top teeth are pushed forward from the pacifier. She gave up her pacifier (by our enforcement) a few months ago (she's four) and she won't be able to bite an apple until she gets her adult teeth. I would hate this to happen with her adult teeth. Braces are not only expensive but are painful to the kid, involve MANY appoitnments at the orthodontist, and are sometimes socially/body image-wise painful as well. When I compare that discomfort with what my daughter went through (and occasionally still goes through when she misses her binky), giving it up now wins out, even if it only reduces the time in braces. However, I can understand your thinking, which is similar to mine about giving up a bottle... Good luck.
Ah, yes, the binky wars. My son also had a binky as his only attachment object until he was over 4 years old. But by around age 3 we had restricted its use to sleeping only, and for the last year, we even plucked it out of his mouth once he was asleep. His teeth ARE misaligned, confirmed by the dentist, so damage was already done by the time we started restricting binky hours. However, the dentist was on board with the 1 hour a day we got him down to.

I have to admit, I don't like the look of older children with binkies, either, even though I had one. I was at a wedding this weekend and there was a 5 year old in attendance (even though children were expressly not invited and we had secured a sitter for ours.) This kid had a dirty face, messy hair, was inappropriately dressed in a character t shirt and sweatpants, and was sucking on a binky the whole time he wasn't screaming during the ceremony or otherwise wildly misbehaving. This just kind of goes along with the stereotype regarding binky use - of parents way too lax with their kids. It's the first thing even I think when I see it. And yes, I had one! Although he never walked around with it in public.

For what it's worth, my son gave up his binky in a flash this year when he wanted a Transformer toy. I suggested a trade and he agreed. He was just ready. Never asked about it again. mom


My kids, now 4 & 5, both used a pacifier until they were four. We limited use to naps and night sleeping only between 1&2 years, and for comfort at Dr. visits, airplane rides, long car rides (when we wanted them to sleep), etc. We started trying to limit use of the pacifiers to night time sleep only with more success with the older child. We'd usually take the pacifier out when they were asleep, but it was nearby if they woke up and wanted it, although usually they'd be out for the night. At some point with the oldest we said when you are four you will have to say goodbye to the pacifier. We told both our kids this and even said, you can give it up any time, but when you turn four, it will be then end. Since they had heard about the end for months, when they turned four, both kids amazingly gave up the pacifier. We had asked our pediatricians and dentists about tooth damage from using the pacifier, and not one of them told us the pacifiers would damage their teeth. They also told us that the pacifiers are absolutely better than thumb/finger sucking when it came to teeth. Our kids are also big water drinkers, rarely have juice, and they have excellent teeth. Good luck. anderkino@yahoo.com
My older daughter (now 5) was also IN LOVE with her pacifier (we called it a passer). I mean truly attached. I feel like I missed my window to get her to give it up easily around 2, so at over 4 she still had it (for sleeping mostly). Her dentist insisted that he could see changes in her bite as a result, but I wasn't totally convinced. Still, we did finally get rid of it when she was about 4 and 1/2. HOWEVER, she almost immediately started sucking her thumb, which I predicted she would do. Basically she is a kid who has a lot of oral needs (she actually will still put many things in her mouth, absent mindedly, straws, paper, her blankie, her sleeves, etc), and quite frankly I have to agree with you. I really don't think there are too many downsides to letting your kid have the pacifier for as long as they want - I mean, MAYBE the teeth thing (my daughter's dentist doesn't know about the thumb sucking and he goes on and on about how her bite is improving, so who knows), but since you are not that concerned about that, I'd say let your kid soothe him (her?) self as long as he/she is able. I'll be curious to see what others post, but I would definitely support you. I am glad we got rid of the pacifier mostly b/c it was disgusting (got dirty, hair wrapped around the nipple, got lost, etc.) and a piece of rubber. But I don't care at all about the thumb/blankie, I figure she'll give it up when she's ready. Sucker mom
The big deal I'm aware of is the phathalates in the pacifier. Phathalates are used to soften plastic. crystal
In response to one post - most (though not all) pacifiers are either latex or silicon, which contain no phthalates. See http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml99/99031.html R.K.
Don't believe the hype. The idea that pacifiers cause a child to need braces is not supported. (Thumbsucking yes, but pacifiers no). My daughter was an absolute pacifier addict (even though she also had other loveys) until she was 6! She is now 8 and the orthodontist said she doesn't need braces. (My husband had them as a child but I didn't.) The worst effect is not on your child's teeth or other health but the judgement of others. We weaned her off them at age 3 but the other repercussions were so severe (chewing clothing, sucking thumb, etc.) that we gave it back. Now with my 4 year old ''lolly addict'' we just try to limit her use of it in public and keep it just for bedtime. (She doesn't use it at preschool, only with us.) However, even in public people will prefer a quiet child with a pacifier to a screaming one. I think some kids just have stronger oral needs than others. Don't stress about it. --people can be so judgemental

Grandparents disapprove of 3-year-old's pacifier

July 2007

My 3 year old stays with my in-laws 2 days per week. It works really well for us, but now that he turned 3 two months ago, the grandparents want his pacifier to be gone. I feel like when he is at their house, they are in charge and can do what they feel is right. The problem is that they say what I feel are mean things about his pacifier, such as, ''You don't need that--that's for babies, babies can't have treats, only big boys who don't use pacifiers'' and ''Other kids will make fun of you'', and ''You don't need that stupid thing''. They don't take the pacifier away when they say this, but say negative things if he uses it. Now he says he doesn't like grandma because she won't let him have his pacifier when he asks for it at naptime. I ask him if he wants to leave it at home when he goes there and sometimes he does. I have decided he can take more time to give it up when he wants to, and I told the grandparents this. When I asked my husband to talk to them with me he said, ''Just do what you want about it'', so no support from that side. I have told them if they don't want him to have it, just take it and don't let him have it at all, but to please not let him have it and comment about it. This has been going on for 2 months or so without any change. Does anyone have experience or advice how to handle this? Thanks mls


I do not think your in laws have any right to bully, belittle and shame your son. I think you should talk again to your husband about your strong feelings about this and hopefully he'll fight the battle (as he should). If he continues to refuse, you need to tell them to stop (again). If it continues, stop leaving him with them. He's your child, you need to protect him. Mother to another paci addict
It *does* sound like an ideal situation to have your kid with the in-laws two days a week. I'll bet it really takes the pressure off you and your husband. But this is seriously not cool.

You don't say why or how the kid stays there. Is it necessary for you guys to go to work, or is it just to take the pressure off you? If the answer is the latter, would you consider playing a little game of chicken with your in-laws? I'd tell them ya know, the pacifier thing is really making the kid unhappy, and making YOU unhappy because you're the parent after all, so maybe the two-day-a-week thing has outrun its course.

The hope is that this will make them upset and convince them to stop acting this way so they can have the kid for those two days again. Of course, they might say ''Oh, great!'' and then you've lost this great arrangement, so I don't know if it's worth the risk to you.

But man, would this make me mad. I can totally affirm your feelings about it. I've got a bit of a temper so I'd probably have ruined the whole deal by now if I were you! They've got some dang nerve IMO! your in-laws are lucky you're so patient


Well I agree with your parents that 3 is too old for the pacifier. But it is mean to say demeaning things to him. It would seriously be better if they just took it away. I think you should institute a no paci at granny's rule. Limiting it to your house at nap time would be a good first step to getting rid of it for good. anon

Getting rid of 3-year-old's pacifier

June 2007

I'm looking for advice on how to get rid of my 3.3 year old's pacifier. She uses it for taking a nap and sleeping at night. She also has it in the car. And, now that she is older she sometimes finds it during the day when she is at home. We are going through a major transition this summer (moving countries) We'll be on the east coast this summer for about 2 months visiting family before moving overseas. I was thinking of leaving the pacifier in Berkeley and with the support of family doing it this summer. Looking for feedback around how you did it, ie, rituals, ceremony, whatever! Please help. I don't want to schlepp these things around any more! sharon


My niece was a pacifier junky, it was actually a little scarey to be honest. She would start shaking when she saw them. Anyhow, when she was almost four my sister and her family went to Mexico for the winter. My sister told my niece that she had three pacifiers left and if she lost then that was it, they couldn't buy anymore. She lost them within the first couple of weeks. She would get a little upset at bedtime, but it only lasted for a few days. Then my sister actually found the pacifiers, but my niece had stopped asking for them, so she never gave them to her again. I think the total change of routine helped her to not notice their absence. good luck. mary
Our kid had the lungs of the century - couldn't be LOUDER if we couldn't find the pacifier. So, I thought - yeah, sure, this transition to no pacifier is going to be HELL. Nonetheless, we prepared him that ''when these are gone/lost, there will be no more, honey. The doctor says its not good for you anymore (true, teeth...)''. But, of course, my head and MY emotional balance was dreading it terribly. I still remember the night - we couldn't find ''old blue-y''. He was so prepared that after a brief, home-rolling scream that he just went to sleep. still seems hard to believe. No rituals...just Lots of reminders ahead of time, lots, lots. And empathy during the missing of it (''I know...good old bluey...darn...'') but not giving it. May the force be with you :) sister
A few months before my daughter turned three, I told her that when she was three there would be no more binky. (At that point she used it for naps and bedtime and occasionally to calm herself during a tantrum.) We talked about the binky going away almost every day. When her birthday got closer, I told her the binky fairy would come when she turned three, and take away all of binkys and give them to a new baby that needed them. When the day arrived, I left a window in her room open and then told her that the binky fairy may have come by. We went to her room and she found a small present on her pillow from the fairy, and all the binkys were gone.

She missed the binkys for a couple of days, and then stopped talking about them altogether. We have a one year-old who also loves the binky, and the three year- old never takes it from her, she seems to understand that binkys are for babies, not big three year-olds. As an aside, when we were trying to get her to give up her bedtime bottle, we told her that when we went on vacation to visit grandma, there wouldn't be any bottles at bedtime. After a two-week vacation, she had forgotten all about the bedtime bottles, so using a transition can also be effective. My nephews were big binky lovers, and they both had little ceremonies to get rid of the binkys, whatever works. Good luck! Mom of binky lovers


I had a similar problem with my son and his ''bottle''. This sounds too simple, but it worked! I told him that he was a big boy now and big boys drink out of cups, ''Let's throw away these bottles''. We pulled out the trash can and threw them all in, said ''Bye-bye'' and he started drinking out of cups! No kidding! Elaine
I can tell you what worked great for us: When our daughter was approaching 3 yrs old, we started talking about the ''Pacifier Fairy'' --similar to the Tooth Fairy, the ''Paci Fairy'' comes when little girls or boys are 3, collects all of her bottles,pacies, nipples etc, that have been collected the night before and left by the child's bed. In exchange, the PF leaves a big stuffy. ''Kiah'', the big brown bear our daughter found in her bed the next morning has given her comfort ever since. We, and she, never looked back. Good luck. dana
I do recall just throwing them out one day. No ceremonies... anon
I have some advice about getting rid of the pacifier, but before that I would ask how important it is for you to get rid of it now? Are you ready for her to give up her naps? That's what our 3.3 year old did when the ''Lolly Fairy'' came to take the lollies and give them to new babies. And even though we ended up giving her pacifier back to her a month later, she never went back to napping, which I thought she still needed. She also started other troubling behaviors like sucking on her shirt, and sometimes sucking her thumb, and had difficulty getting to sleep for a while. Especially since you are going through a major transition, it seems cruel to take away one of her main coping/self-soothing tools. Has a dentist said that it is harming her teeth? Even if so, a pacifier is probably better than sucking her thumb, which she may take up as compensation. Anyway, if you are determined that she needs to give it up, I do recommend the Lolly Fairy (or Binky Fairy or whatever you call it). She is like the Tooth Fairy, and she comes when the child is no longer a baby but is a ''Big Girl'' (or Boy) and no longer needs the pacifier. In its place she leaves Big Girl things (toys, gum, etc.) Our daughter got very excited about the Lolly Fairy and swore she was ready, even though it turned out she wasn't. I would also start by strictly adhering to the ''only for sleeping'' rule, i.e. not in the car or walking around, and see how that goes. Good luck! --my 3 year old still needs her pacifier
I LOVE the book ''The Last Noo Noo''! It's a beautifully illustrated, engaging, and really fun book about a little monster who finally decides to give up his pacifier (but he plants one in the ground so a noo noo tree will grow).

My son's almost seven and he STILL likes to re-read the book and still giggles while doing so (even though his pacifier is very ancient history now). Sara


3.5 year old does not want to give up pacifier

Sept 2003

Our son, almost 3.5, is still using a pacifier for sleeping (naps and nighttime). When he visited the dentist just after his 3rd birthday, the dentist said he really had to stop using it, as it is affecting his teeth and jaw. We still haven't managed to help him to do that, and I'm looking for ideas or suggestions. I read in other postings that people picked a targeted date, and talked it up as the date was nearing, and then when it arrived, the children pretty willingly said goodbye to their pacifiers. I've tried that, but when our date arrived, our son became pretty distraught, and suggested a new date (a year away!). (We even had a new baby all picked out to ''give'' the pacifiers to, but he just couldn't do it!) I don't know if I just have to be mean and take it away, and we'll all suffer for a while, or if he really will be ready at some point, and I should just wait for that time. He doesn't have a blanky or favorite stuffed animal for comfort (I've tried to encourage both and it hasn't worked) so his ''pacie'' is his one comfort item. It makes the transition to sleep easier for the him and for us. I've also heard of kids being forced to give up pacifiers who then take up thumbsucking which is supposedly worse for teeth. Any insights or suggestions from anyone out there? Thanks!


I've had 2 children passionately attached to their ''pacies'' and the only thing that has worked for us is going cold turkey. We too went to the dentist for my 3.5-y-o's first appointment and he told us her teeth and bite were being affected by the pacifier. He said we needed to get rid of it, so from the moment we left the office, she never got one again. It was the major cold turkey approach combined with some good old fashioned bribes/rewards.

I told her that if she slept the first night without the pacifier, I would take her to the Hello Kitty store in SF and she could pick anything she wanted. It was very difficult for her, lots of screaming and crying, but she did it. We went to the store and let her pick out 2 gifts. That night when she started crying for her pacifier, I said ''we'd have to bring back your beautiful Hello Kitty Bride.'' This went on for many weeks. The dentist office also sent a package of toys when I called to tell them that she had given up her pacifier. This was pretty great for her.

Anyway, she still, many months later, does not sleep as well as she did with her pacifier One thing that has helped is letting her listen to a CD when falling asleep. This is a new routine and has worked pretty well.

It's really hard. I don't know about any other children, but this little girl was not giving up her pacifier voluntarily - not for a long time. Good luck! Jill


We too have tried to limit the use of the pacifier in our 3.5 y- o. And now when she wants it and we don't give it to her, she sticks her finger right in! So I am not sure what good we are doing! Andrea
My son was HOOKED on his pacifier until he was almost four years old. We tried to limit his use to bedtime and the car and had told him that when he turned four he wouldn't be able to have it anymore. About 6 weeks before his 4th birthday he fell and cut his face and had to have stitches right next to his mouth. The doctor said the pacifier would irritate the wound, so no more pacifier. THe doctor also said we'd have one bad weekend and he'd forget about it. It was actually like 2 bad weeks, but we lived through it. What really helped was reminding him that the doctor said NO pacifier -- my son seemed to respect the opinion of a 3rd party authority figure, and mom and dad weren't the 'bad guys', we were just following the rules. So you might try telling your son that the dentist said no pacifier. Also, my son did some finger sucking when he was stressed or tired, but that stopped after a few months. It's been about 10 or 11 months since he gave up the pacifier and says he doesn't remember when he used one.

Weaning 3.5 year old from a pacifier

Our daughter, age 3 and 1/2, needs to give up her "binky" (pacifier) for her teeth. She's received a reprieve from the dentist for the last 2 visits, but now it's time. We're down to only one very old, funky pacifier that lives in the "binky" cup during the day, and she only has it at night or when she's lying down or napping, or going for a long car trip or stroller ride. We've told her that when it gets lost or destroyed we aren't buying any more. I'm concerned about the condition of this one--I also think it may last awhile longer if we don't do anything. I can't bring myself to "lose" it myself.

I'd like to know how other parents of highly oral children have dealt with this--we're not into being mean to her (as the binky really is her main comfort, along with her blanket which definitely plays second-fiddle), but we're willing to be creative and want to move this process along. Any suggestions? Roxane


My sister had the same problem with her son who used a pacifier and a burp cloth for comfort until he was 4. (She was going through a divorce and she did not feel good about taking it away from him too early.) Anyhow, she was successful at getting him to voluntarily give up the pacifier. About 2 months before his 4th birthday she told him that on his 4th birthday, he would become a little boy (no longer a baby), and that he had to get rid of the pacifier/burp cloth. She reminded him of this weekly and then daily during the week before his birthday. When he woke up on his birthday, she asked him if he was ready and he, himself dropped the pacifier and burp cloth into the trash. He never said another word about either after that day. Obviously, this method may not be ideal for every child, but I thought you might like to hear what worked for her. Chris
I think weaning from the pacifier is like weaning from the breast or the bottle. It is best to do it gradually. What we did with my with my daughter was first limit her pacifier use to only in the house. Then it was only at naps and bedtime. My husband also made up a bedtime story about a little girl who wouldn't take her pacifier out of her mouth and the repercussions. In the story the little girl used to eat and talk with it until one day she ate a peanut butter sandwich and pacifier was suck! Of course, then no one could understand what she was saying. No one could give her a proper kiss goodnight. Etc., etc., etc...I think it just gave her something to think about in terms of having it all the time.

A few months before her 4th birthday we discussed the possibility of her getting rid of it. We didn't put any pressure on her we just brought up the subject. She decided that when she turned 4 she would throw it away. Well, lo and behold, she did! Right after her birthday party (she wasn't even 4 yet for a couple of more days but I guess the party symbolizes the day more for some kids) with quite a bit of pomp and circumstance she threw it in the trash. All seemed to be going well until I realized that she started sucking her thumb with a vengeance! No more pacifier but I can't seem to limit the thumb sucking like I could the pacifier. My daughter is still very, very oral. Everything goes into her mouth. Her clothes, her hair, jewelry. I'm not sure if my story will help you make a decision about weather or not to persuade her to get rid of it. If I had it do all over again, I'm not sure what I would do. Which is worse the pacifier or the thumb?


I don't know what the experts say, but here's what worked for me, and with minimum of trauma considering how much my son liked his pacifier. My son REALLLY loved his "suckie" and never wanted to give it up. Like you, I managed to limit it somewhat -- night only, etc, but I finally decided I'd have to take more action. He's the kind of kid who hates change, and he will often seem to hang on to things (such as toys he hasn't looked at in years) if HE has to make the choice to give them up. He doesn't mind if they just disappear, and sometimes I think he's relieved not to have to be "responsible" for causing this "loss" to himself. I know a lot of kids are the opposite, feel better if they are in control of the choices. Anyway, a few months before he turned 5, I suggested that at age 5, he might be too big a boy for the suckie, that his birthday might be a good target date for giving it up completely. He actually agreed in the abstract, since it was a long way off, and we talked about it from time to time. Closer to the date, he wanted to reneg, but I reminded him gently about our agreement, and I collected all the pacifiers from the house. I didn't make a big deal about getting rid of them--just "disappeared" them. For a while after, he'd say he wished he had his suckie, but it seemed to be rather a nostalgia thing... It wasn't a major issue. He'd had enough time to get used to the idea, idea, which with him can take a long time. Maybe it's like giving up smoking. I did that many, many years ago, and the temptation is still there sometimes, but I know it's not in the realm of possibility, so I get over it.
We weaned our son from his binky at 2 years old. We had a Binky Going Away Ceremony. He was old enough to go and get all of the ones he had hidden, we put them in a box, and we threw them in the trash. I explained to him that he was a big kid now, and didn't need them, and he didn't fuss or fight it. He agreed. We said good-bye to all of them - he gave a few last "sucks", and they were gone. For two days he would ask for one, and then I would ask him "where are they?" He'd answer, "in the trash". That was it. We didn't have any crying or anything. Good luck, I think it's harder for the parents than for the kids! Melissa
My son had a pacifier for three years. He "gave" them away on his third birthday. My son has had one ear infection in his life, so the ear infections/pacifier correlation might not apply not all children. My son loved his pacifier at bed and nap time as well, but when he frequently wanted it in the car as well, and threw a fit when we left it at home, I decided to put an end to it. We talked about it two weeks before his third birthday, and that he was going to be such a big boy that he did not need the pacifier anymore. I did give him the choice of throwing them all away, or "giving" them to a little baby we knew. So when the day came, we gave them to the friend with the baby (who of course gave them back at a later time; I still have them as a souvenir). My son felt in charge, and he had no problem giving them away. That night, he went to bed without it. He did wake up twice in the night, but did not ask for it at all. Early in the morning, he finally asked for it but when I explained that we had given them away, he was fine. It was a lot easier than I thought. I think he was ready to give it up. I did not read in your posting that your son actually has a lot of ear infections. If not, you might want to wait until your son is ready to give it up himself. It might be easier that way. Good luck. Jannette
My son was given a pacifier in maternity ward. The "passy" was his security blanket. At 4.5 yrs old he has had 2 ear infections.
I mentioned this recently but it's worth mentioning again because it was so effective. Our 2.25 year old has self-limited her pacifier to bedtime after her dentist told her that it was not good for her teeth and should be limited to bed. Try having a third-party - a pediatrician or dentist - discuss it with your child.

Ending 4-year-old's pacifier addiction

June 2004

My older daughter is about to turn 4. For months, we've been talking up her upcoming birthday as a theoretical line in the sand with regards to her pacifier use--errr, addiction. We're tried to do this in a positive way; i.e., ''We know you want to get a big girl bike for your birthday, and we'd like to get you one. However, you first need to show us that you are a big girl by giving up your pacifiers. We know that's going to be very hard for you, but we believe in you and feel certain you can do it.'' Currently, her pacifier use--and that of her almost two-year-old sister--is confined to bed (at home and at preschool) and car, but we feel strongly that it needs to go altogether now. (She's developing an overbite and our dentist is urging us to dump the passie.) The complicating factors are: her nearly obsessive love for her pacifiers; her little sister's continued pacifier use; parent weakness. Can anyone offer any tips, success stories, or other info on handling this transition as best we can for all involved? Thanks! Darcy


Boy oh boy, do I feel sorry for you!! Why? Because I've just very recently been there and done that. My daughter is about to turn 2 and will be starting a preschool next week that doesn't allow pacifiers. I found out about this recently so I was faced with having to make a decision regarding my approach very fast. I solicited opinions from my various yahoogroups and got lots of good advice. My favorite advice was to take the child to the Make-a-Bear place, put the pacifier inside the bear and then name the bear after her pacifier (my daughter had named her pacifiers ''Boo'').

I didn't do any of those things. My daughter went cold turkey. That first night was horrible. She cried mournfully for hours, begged me to ''find Boo mommy'' and neither of us got any sleep. For the next week, I kept thinking about giving in and giving it back to her just so we could get a normal night's sleep. After that, she was fine. She never asks for it now. She does have a new addiction however. Everytime she asked for the pacifier, I would say ''no, how about a book?''. I now read her about 20 books every night before she falls asleep. So, you might want to think about something you can offer her instead of the pacifier that will comfort her during sleeptimes. I would also consider going the cold turkey route with both kids. It will be so tough if one kid gets the pacifier and the other one doesn't. Hopefully the 2 year old will be less resistant. Good luck - it ain't easy! Lorianne


I sympathize with you. My 3.5 yo loved his pacifier and we were too weak to attempt the separation for a long time, even with the dentist's urging. Finally our pediatrician had a little talk with him and we told him that he had to find all the pacifiers in the house and take them to toys r us and trade them for a toy. He was sad for a couple days after we did this, but he was also very proud of himself. It went amazingly easily. I don't know about your 2 yo, but I might just bite the bullet and get rid of all of them. Lisa
We had a similar situation with our son. At 3.5 (after the 2nd visit to the dentist in which he had told us we had to get rid of the pacifier)we had the pacifier fairy come. I didn't think i! t would work, but it did. Our son decorated a bag that we hung from his doorknob, and he put his pacies in it. We helped him get to sleep that night (laid with him until he fell asleep). The pacie fairy left him a couple of really nice toys and packs of gum, and he's never had a pacie since. It was a little hard for the first few nights, but then it was okay. Good luck! Tammy
The only tricky part I see in this whole thing is that there will still be pacifiers around with her sister? That may make it harder for cold turkey. When my sister was four she LOVED her passie. She was down to her last one and we went away for the weekend and my parents ''left'' her passie at the hotel. They explained that it was accidentally thrown away and they couldn't get it back. She handled it pretty well, and had a couple of hard nights but then was fine. Now my son is two and loves his passie just as much. He only gets it when he sleeps but likes to have one in his mouth and one in his hand. We were thinking of doing the cut the nipple of trick when we are ready to lose the passie. Maybe this would work for your daughter and you could let her sleep with one in her hand (my son like to rub the passie against his nose while easing into sleep for some reason :-) Good luck! EB
I completely understand. We just got my 2 year old to stop using the pacifier. It was tramatic. I thought it was never going to happen and she was clearly addicted and actually need 3+ binkies at night (one for mouth, and two to play with in her hands). Finally, one morning, I just took them away (per doctor's advice) and she screamed and writhed and basically freaked out for 20-30 minutes. Within a day of cold turkey, she was able to live without them. She asked about them all the time, and we'd say something like ''I don't know. Did you lose them?'' Or, they are at Grandad's house. She'd then forgot for a while. I would never have believed it if someone told me this would work so easily just by not allowing her to have them at all. I'm not sure about your child since she's older, but I don't think there ! is an easy way. I'm expecting baby #2 in 2 weeks and are hoping not to use a pacifier. I'm afraid it will bring up all of the issues with my two-year old again. Good luck! It is hard for us parents to see our kids in such pain but it truly is the best for them. Anon
It's been a while, but we went through the same thing, although our line in the sand was our daughter's 3rd birthday. I remember getting good advice from the website archives. To prep her, we talked CONSTANTLY about how after she turned three she was not going to use her binky. She used it only for naps and nighttime, so every time we put her to bed, we talked about how after her birthday she wouldn't have her binky. We kept saying how fun her birthday would be and how big she will be, and, oh yeah, no more binky. We knew we were getting through when she would meet people for the first time and say, ''When I turn three, I'm not going to use a binky any more.'' On her birthday, we got a little box and put her current binky (all others had been surreptitiously destroyed) and said goodbye to it and put it in. The next weeks were tough as going to sleep without sucking herself to sleep was so foreign, but she did great. We made a point of staying in bed with her and resting for a while so that she had something to nurture herself with. She now is VERY attached to a particular blanket and stuffed animal, but has never used a binky since. Well, technically, a year later when I had another baby and tried to introduce a binky (no luck, I'm her binky), I caught her hiding in the corner sucking on the baby's binky saying she wished she could have one again. We talked through it and since the baby didn't need it, I was able to avoid a relapse. I think this will be your biggest hurdle. We just kept saying, ''Binkies are for babies because they like to suck so much-- just like breastfeeding and bottles.'' This might be harder for you since 3 is not really a baby, but maybe you could do a variation. Good Luck! Elizabeth
Our daughter gave up her ''binky'' on her 4th bday too. We did not have the complication of another binky user in our home but it all went better than expected. As bedtime approached on the eve of her 4th bday she said she wished she'd said she'd give it up at 5 instead of 4 and then said I might have to sleep with her for 2 or 3 nights and then- went to sleep with me and never woke up and never asked for it again. We were all sooo excited the next morning (her 4th bday)and I fell asleep with her again the next night and that was it. She was ready though she didn't know it and we weren't sure! Try not to be weak and stick to it. It may be a miserable couple of days but then she'll be so proud of herself. Been there, done that and survived
When our daughter was 3, her friend had a visit from the ''Lolly Fairy'' (or pacifier fairy) who comes and takes all the pacifiers from the big kids and gives them to the babies. In exchange she leaves a big kid present. We were interested in getting her to give up the lolly, and she was very interested in the lolly fairy, so we scheduled a visit from the lolly fairy. We talked about it for a couple weeks beforehand and she swore she was ready (although she started using it more and more as the day approached). The night before we gathered up all the lollies and put them in a bag under her pillow. That night the lolly fairy took the bag and left a beautiful card under the pillow and a 2 wheel bike in the living room (which we were ready to get her at that time any way). The first 3 days were kind of hard and she asked for her lolly several times, but then she stopped. That would have been the end of it, except! that without her lolly she started developing a lot of uncomfortable habits. For one thing, she stopped being able to nap so she was frequently cranky all afternoon. Also she started sucking on her shirt collar and sleeve, and other things like this. After a month of this, with no relief in sight, we decided that even though she had felt really ready to be a big girl and give up her lolly in fact she still needed it. The Lolly Fairy decided that she had made a mistake and brought back the lollies (but let her keep the bike of course.) So now our dear daughter has just turned 5 and is as addicted to her lolly as ever, and even more so since her sister was born last summer. She talked about giving it up when she turned 5 (yesterday) but when that day came she said she wasn't ready. She says that she will give it up when she starts kindergarten in the fall, and ! we will encourage her to gradually reduce her use as that gets closer (just in the house & car, then just for sleeping, etc.) but we are not going to make a big thing out of it. She already doesn't use it at preschool or other places where she wants to be a big girl. Basically we have decided not to make a big thing out of it; she will give it up when she is ready. I don't want to turn it into a big power struggle or for her to have some unmet oral need that she ends up filling by sucking her thumb or later on smoking or something. So that's our experience, for what it's worth. For you, I would say that if you are determined for her to give it up, the Lolly Fairy is a great way to go. It's fun, motivating, and takes it out of your hands so to speak. However, I would encourage you to think about why it is so important to do this now, what effects this m! ight have, and how you could help her deal with those (i.e. trouble sleeping, other ways of comforting herself, better ways of meeting her oral needs, etc.) Good luck! A Lolly Fairy backslider
Remember the Binky Fairy! She came to our house -- with lots of fanfare -- when our child was five. The child hid her binkies all around the living room, and the next morning the Binky Fairy had replaced each one with a lovely (& inexpensive) paperback book. It was a great day, and far more successful -- not to mention less traumatic -- than we had dared to hope. Fan of Binky Fairy
I read a lot of creative responses, but didn't see my rather cruel one, so I thought I'd chime in. After seeing this successfully done by a friend, when my son turned 14 months old I simply cut the tips off all his pacifiers (he had an impressive collection) and when he tried to use them I explained that they were ''broken.'' Miraculously, he just accepted what I said and moved on! He was aware of the concept because he had chewed through or worn out other pacifiers previously. BTW, the same technique worked when he turned two and all the nipples on his bottles ''broke.'' For this, however, we gave him plenty advance warning that on his 2nd birthday he was going to be big enough to drink all his milk from a sippy cup from that day onwards. He wasn't happy about it, but accepted his fate. Molly

Letting 4-year-old use pacifier

August 1999

My daughter turned 4 in May. She has always loved her pacifier. She has gone through some self-weaning over the past 9 months, I'm assuming mostly from peer pressure, eg. she'll pull it out of her mouth and hand it to me just before entering pre-school so I can put it in the basket where she'll retrieve it for nap time. She likes it when she's playing at home by herself, taking naps and sleeping at night. I'd like to hear from other parents who had late pacifier users who didn't pressure their kid to give it up. What can I expect as she goes to kindergarten in another year. Will it be difficult for her to go without it all day (adding more stress as she transitions to school), will something magical happen this next year and she'll throw it out herself, or should we be doing something now to help her get rid of it by then. I've heard lots of firsthand advice about just taking them away but I don't think I agree with that approach, she dearly loves the darn thing. Thanks.


Our son gave up his pacifyer on his fourth birthday. The dentist recommended after he was 3 1/2 that we work toward ending its use. We did it gradually and gently, as he was very attached. We told him about three months in advance that was the deadline. We also gave him the choice of picking out another comfort object to help the transition. He decided on a special stuffed animal. He was sad a bit for a couple of days, but not at all as much as we expected. He too started to hide it when older kids were around, or kids he wanted to be a big boy around. There were two strong reasons pushing us to find an end to end the pacifyer use. His teeth did not meet in the front and he was having trouble eating apples and other foods. Also, his pronunciation of lots of words was suffering from his talking with it in his mouth. He's almost five now, doesn't miss it at all, and we're still working with him on his pronunciation. His teeth have thankfully moved to their proper location. Good luck.
Our son turned four in June. We thought he would never give up his BLUE pacifier. We decided to wait it out since he just became a big brother and because that was his comfy item. We went to L.A. for fun mid-July and he never asked for it. When we got home he asked for it 2 or 3 times and then hasn't for 2 weeks now. We strongly believe in letting hiom have what he needs for comfort, although we did insist that it only got used in the house. By the way, he still uses bottles and we are just waiting those out as well.
My 5 3/4 YO daughter was extrememly attached to the pacifier. I was reluctant to stop it's use at 1 year old as the doctor suggested because she's very high strung and seemed to need it to calm down. Her doctor was horrified at my reluctance and pronounced that we should then prepare for braces. The dentist, however, said that as long as she was not sucking when her big teeth came in, she'd be fine. She quit 1 month before her fifth birthday, because she had a fall and bumped her front teeth which loosened them and made them quite sore as well. She had great difficulty giving it up, but I know it was easier than it would have been at 2 or 3. We gave her a daily "binky prize" (an idea I got from advice line) which helped a lot. I had little things on hand and would wait for her to ask for her "binky prize." I told her she could get something every day, if she needed it. She continued to ask for a daily "binky prize" for about 3 weeks, which interestingly, is just about as long as they say it takes to break a habit. Now I can't believe it was ever an issue! Her new front teeth are about half way in and coming in straight, although her baby teeth had been pushed out quite a bit from the binky, so I guess the dentist was right!

The bigger problem for me was shielding my daughter from negative reactions in public. It was amazing to me how many strangers felt it necessary to tell her she was too old for a pacifier or, worse, to call her a baby! It's appalling what some people think is okay to say to a child. I began to suggest that she leave it in the car, which she often agreed to.


I think you're doing the right thing with the pacifier. She'll give it up when she's ready and peer pressure will influence that. I sometimes wonder if part of the reason I smoke is due to being weaned before I was ready, maybe an oral fixation that was never satisfied. You'll get all sorts of advice from people, but only you know the actual situation. It sounds as though your daughter is old enough to tell you how she feels about her pacifier. My daughter regressed at 8 when her little brother was born and again at 9 when her next brother was born. She wanted her bottle again. Rather than tell her, that's for babies. I took her and held her and we pretended she was that baby for a little while. We laugh about things like that. She does now occasionally still use her bottles, with a huge hole cut in the nipple. Of course this is not something she'd like her peers to know about. I think we all have something that we wouldn't like our peers to know about. What better place than at home to nurture whatever needs may arise. That way, when we have to function in the outside world, we can, without unresolved issues that affect our dealings with others. Pick your battles for yourself and not what others determine you should and relax and know that she'll be ok. Reassure her that's it's ok. I think that if she knows the choice is hers, she may give it up sooner than if she feels bad about it.
For the parent looking for advice on a 4 year-old using a pacifier: My son is almost three and a half and he recently stopped using his pacifier. He was very attached to it, but had also started some self-weaning (such as not using it at day care, and taking it out when he wanted to talk to someone). He was hooked on one particular pacifier---no other one would do the trick for him----and he lost it one day. He was very upset, but he didn't want any other pacifiers and very quickly (within a few days) stopped even mentioning it. We also didn't think it was right to take it away from him and I'm glad it happened the way it did. IMHO, unless your child's teeth are really suffering, pacifiers aren't such a bad thing. For us the worst part of his pacifier use was always having to find it! I'll bet your daughter will give it up when she's ready.
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