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A pacifier is a Godsend. It can effectively offer your baby comfort at times in need. Some babies just aren’t at ease unless they have something to suck on. And then, when it’s in your baby’s mouth, they are less distracted by all that’s around them, making it an especially helpful accomplice when your child needs shots. Pacifiers have so many benefits.
Some studies have even shown that they can help to reduce the chances of sudden cot death. But like all good things, there is a time when they have to end. A pacifier is not forever. If your child hangs onto it for too long, then their teeth may come in crooked. The question is, how do you know when it’s the right time to wean your child off their pacifier?
Before we get onto the question of the right age, let’s make sure that your child has a healthy relationship with their pacifier.
The right way for your child to use a pacifier
The pacifier should never be a parent’s first line of defense against a crying baby. There are other steps you should take before giving your child the pacifier. These tactics can also be used if you’re considering weaning your child of their pacifier. You might learn that your child’s dependence on their pacifier isn’t as extreme as you had imagined. When your child begins to cry, try rocking them, holding them, and making sure that they are well-fed.
If you offer your child a pacifier and they reject it, then you should never force them to take it. There are times that they will want it, and times that they won’t, and as we will discover later, your child’s rejection of the pacifier might be the first step to self-weaning.
Always make sure that you choose a pacifier that is made from silicone. It should always be one complete piece, and it needs to be safe for the dishwasher as well. The reason why you need to keep away from two-piece pacifiers is that one part could easily come off, and your child might choke.
Cleanliness is essential. If your child is under the age of six months, then the pacifier needs to be sterilized before every use. That means that it should be washed in boiling water. If your child is older than six months, then their immune system will be getting stronger, so there’s no need to wash it with boiling water – soapy water will be fine – but always make sure that you do a thorough job.
How do I know if my child is too old for a pacifier?
In most cases, a child will wean themselves off pacifiers. At a certain age – usually between two and four – they will start to reject the pacifier when you offer it to them. This is good because a pacifier can cause major issues for your child’s teeth, and your child mustn’t hang onto their pacifier for too long.
It’s recommended that your child should stop using a pacifier at the age of 36 months. At this point, your child’s teeth have started to come in. As long as your child stops taking the pacifier before 36 months, then there are no long-term risks. After this point, your child might not only cause long term damage to their teeth, but the pacifier might even lead to your child developing speech impediments.
Don’t worry, though. If your child still is taking the pacifier after 36 months, then it’s not too late. You need to begin the process of weaning your child as soon as possible. It will be a challenge, especially if your child has become very attached to their favorite pacifier, but the process can move quite quickly, as long as you follow these tips.
Tips for discontinuing your child’s pacifier usage
The most effective way of stopping your child from taking a pacifier is the multi-step method. Although it may sound harsh, it works. You need to set a date or day for when your child will stop taking the pacifier. You’ll tell your child when this day is, and you can help to prepare them for it. You can even involve your child in the process, getting them to decorate a box for their pacifier or pacifiers to go into, which you will then dispose of. With your child knowing the exact day when the pacifiers are to be binned, they will have control over the situation.
An alternative method – which isn’t as effective – is to ease down the usage of the pacifier. Perhaps your child can only take the pacifier after nap time or at another point in the day. Then the pacifier can be taken every other day, and so on until the pacifier is no longer taken at all. The issue with this method is that the endpoint is not determined at first, and it can only draw out the process. Like a band-aid, sometimes quick and painful is the best way to go about things.
A pacifier can be a very helpful thing for your child. It can soothe and comfort them in times of distress. It can act as a distraction when a troublesome even is occurring, such as a shot or doctor’s appointment. But there is a time when that pacifier has to be discontinued. Why? Because it might cause long term problems for your child’s teeth and can even lead to a speech impediment.
The consensus in the medical and dental community is that 36 months is the right time for the pacifier to be discontinued. Make sure that you choose an effective method, like the multi-step method, for discontinuing your child’s pacifier usage, where a date or day is set, and then all pacifiers are removed from the house on that day. Then your child will be pacifier-free and ready to move onto the next stage in their life.