How to Wean a Toddler Off The Pacifier


Whether you call it a binky, dummy, soother or some other name, a pacifier can be a key player in a toddler's life. When your toddle is attached to his pacifier, he uses it as a soothing device, which means weaning him can be difficult. Depending on your toddler's age, you may have to say goodbye to binky slowly, or quit cold-turkey when you think that your little one is ready.

  • Discuss and select a method for weaning with your partner. According to the book, "Your Toddler: Head to Toe," cold-turkey methods are best for younger children who will quickly forget about the pacifier. Slow, gradual methods work better for older toddlers who have a deeper attachment to their pacifiers.

  • Choose a start date where the weaning needs to begin. Without a solid start date in place, it's easy to give in when you try to take away your child's pacifier and he protests. Write it down or circle it on the calendar. You can even prep your older toddler by letting him know that he'll have to say goodbye to his pacifier soon.

  • Begin your weaning process on the chosen start date. If you're taking away the paci cold turkey, you can gather up all of your child's pacifiers and get rid of them together by putting them in a memory box or giving them to a small baby. Emphasize that he is a big boy now -- too big for a pacifier. Stay upbeat and enthusiastic so it's not a negative experience for your toddler.

    If you're going for a more gradual approach, try limiting pacifier use to a few minutes at nap and bedtime and slowly phase it out. Keep in mind that one solution doesn't work for every toddler, so you may have to experiment with different weaning methods to find one that fits.

  • Swap your toddler's pacifier for another comfort item, suggests the National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families. Introduce the new comfort item before eliminating the pacifier; with a pacifier out of the picture, your child may need another security item to help him stay calm and get to sleep at night. A small blanket or stuffed animal can help make the transition easier on your little one.

  • Offer extra comfort at bedtime for the first few nights. Even a child who seems enthusiastic about getting rid of the paci during the day can miss the comfort item at night. You may find that your toddler takes longer to settle in bed or cries more at nap time. Be patient and you'll find that after a few nights of your new routine, your toddler eases into life without a pacifier.

Tips & Warnings

  • There is nothing inherently wrong with your child using a pacifier as a comfort mechanism. If your child is only using a paci to self-soothe, there is no need to give it up if she resists or has a difficult time. Only when a pacifier interferes with your little one's communication skills or ability to interact does it become a serious problem. You'll probably find that as your toddler gets older, the need for a paci diminishes naturally.


  • Photo Credit Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images
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