Studies have shown that pacifier use at nap and bed time lowers the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends waiting until a child is at least 12 months old before letting go of the pacifier.
However, if your child is having recurrent ear infections, discuss eliminating the pacifier earlier with your pediatrician (between 6 and 12 months of age). This is because pacifier use may lead to fluid buildup in the middle ear, increasing the risk of ear infection.
With that being said, you can choose to get rid of the pacifier when you feel the time is right for your child. Whenever you choose to do it, I recommend that you do so cold turkey.
Choose a time during the day when your child is calm and relaxed (not hungry or sleepy either) and explain that the pacifier is going away as a gift for another kid who is still a baby for example. Tell them that it is part of growing up. Once you do that, set a date and stick to it.
During the first few days, you will notice that your child will probably need extra doses of love and support to replace the soothing effect of the pacifier. Be patient, acknowledge their feelings, and comfort them whenever you see that they need it.
Remember that most of the time the pacifier is your child’s “sleep prop” and they find it hard to sleep without it. That is why you need to replace that prop with a healthy bedtime routine. Giving in or going back and forth between taking the pacifier away and then giving it back to them will only create confusion and upset them more.
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