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Weaning Your Child Off Pacifier

Question:

We've been trying to wean our one-year-old off the pacifier. But so far, we are unable to get her to give it up because she won't sleep without her pacifier. We're worried long-term pacifier use will cause teeth alignment problems in the future. How can we break her off this habit?


As you've undoubtedly experienced firsthand, breaking a child's sucking habit can be a real tricky business! Don't worry too much at this stage. Your daughter's still very young and there shouldn't be any dental or speech problems. Many times, when a child starts nursery school or preschool or nursery school, she'll stop daytime sucking habits because of peer pressure.

If she has trouble falling asleep without the pacifier, you can leave it with her at bedtime, then remove the pacifier after she's asleep.

Many parents also find it helpful to substitute the pacifier with another toy or blanket, but if your baby starts fussing, it may be better to return her the pacifier. Another tactic may be to set a deadline for her pacifier use: Tell your child she can use her pacifier for 2 more months, and then she will be too old for it.

The important thing to keep in mind is not to put too much pressure on your child. Don't use harsh words or punishment if she doesn't cooperate as these can upset her and cause more harm than good. Focus on positive reinforcement instead: Rewarding and praising your child for the times when she doesn't use the pacifier will encourage a change.

At this point, there's no need to worry too much. Your child is still young and needs self-calming and self-comforting behaviors of sucking to relax and sleep. There's a good chance she'll give up the habit on her own when she's older.

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