When our babies are little, a pacifier can be a godsend [for the moms that choose to use one—we realize that some mamas pass on the paci and that’s a-OK!]. They can give us a little peace from the endless screaming, allowing us out in public without breaking the eardrums of the innocent citizens around us.
But as kids get older, the binky becomes the bane of our existence. Lose one, and your kid will throw a tantrum that would make Joan Crawford wince. Forget it at home, and every errand becomes a trip from hell until you can give your little silicon junkie a full-on Maggie Simpson fix.
To prevent the pacifier from becoming a prom accessory 17 years down the road, experts say to start weaning a baby off it around six to 12 months of age. But as most parents know, that’s easier said than done. It’s hard to take away a child’s favorite soothing mechanism. I mean, how would you feel if all of a sudden you were banned from binge watching “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” or cramming peanut butter cups in your face?
From the cold turkey method to trading up for a toy, parenting experts offer tons of tips for transitioning your baby from pacifier to other self-soothing mechanisms. But as parents find out, it’s rarely smooth sailing. And sometimes you have to get a little creative just to survive.
Here’s how a few moms found success with the great pacifier break-up.
Leanne, mom of two
“We took Olivia and her binky stash to Build-A-Bear and put the binkies in the bear she picked (one in each hand and one in each foot). We made a big deal about saying goodbye to them and sewed them up in the bear. Great in concept—until we were half way home and discovered she had picked the stitches out of the back of the bear and gotten one out.”
Tress, mom of two
“We were trying to break Charlie, but I hid one paci just in case. On our first day of ‘cold turkey,’ we had a pretty miserable day all around. When my husband Kevin got home, I arranged to go out with some friends. We were sitting outside on the patio of a beautiful Tex-Mex restaurant sipping margaritas. At 9:30, I look up and see Kevin standing by the fence of the patio with the car door open and Charlie wailing in the backseat. Kevin was trying to flag me down in what I believe he thought was a discreet way, but nonetheless screaming, ‘Tress, where’s the paci?!?’ I walk over to tell him and he hands me my cellphone, which had several missed calls and texts from him. On his way home, Charlie fell asleep, and Kevin laid him down, which was the end of the paci nightmare. But our group of friends has adopted the phrase, ‘Where’s the paci?’ when we have high frustration or shit is hitting the fan.”
Tara, mom of two
“I took Brody’s pacifier and cut a slit in the tip while he watched. He acted scared of it and wouldn’t touch it. He walked around for weeks saying, ‘Paci boken. Mommy boke it.” At age six, he still tells people how I broke his paci. I even caught him that same week at church trying to steal a little girl’s pacifier.”
Lesley, mom of 3
“Alyssa refused to get rid of her pacifier until she was about three-and-a-half. We started taking it away during the day a little more at a time, but she really wanted it at bedtime. We knew we had to do something. She loved the idea of a balloon release. So she picked out a huge Dora balloon, and we tied her pacifiers to it so she could send them off to all the other babies (kind of gross, but she didn’t know any better!). She only cried for her pacifier that first night.”
Ellen, mom of two
“Our solution for weaning? Hand, foot, and mouth disease. When Charlie was an infant, we had to go through several brands before we found one he liked—ultimately it was his daycare provider that found it. We hadn’t tried to break him of it prior to him catching hand/foot/mouth, but it was on our minds as he was turning one. I knew I wanted to try to wean him off the pacifier and get him to stop using his bottle to fully transition to a cup. When he got sick, we got rid of the pacifier in the span of three rather horrible days. The little sores in his mouth made sucking painful. He never looked back. And I don’t recall him asking for it again.”