How To Break The Pacifier Habit (And Other Common Stressors)

If your baby “accepts” a pacifier, it’s an amazing soothing tool. If your baby doesn’t, don’t give up right away; try a few different brands as they’re not all the same.

While pacifiers can feel sanity-saving, they do come with a few major questions and concerns. Chief among them is when and often they need to be replaced and how the heck to wean a child off them.


Pacifiers need to be switched often!

“Pacifiers generally need to be replaced every four to six weeks for hygiene and safety reasons,” says Dr. Neela Sethi MD, practicing pediatrician and lactation consultant. “Pacifiers can harbor bacteria from baby’s mouth if not replaced often. Also, parents can perform a pull test where the pacifier is pulled on in each direction where they inspect for tears or damage. This is especially important if baby is starting to teethe. If damage is seen, it is best to replace the pacifier.”

Further Dr. Sethi notes that if the pacifier becomes sticky, the surface looks uneven or the shape of it changes, it is also time to replace it. Aside from daily cleaning, pacifiers also need to be sanitized on a regular basis.

I love my Baby Brezza for sterilizing and drying, but it’s not the most convenient if you don’t have a lot of counter space. If you’re short on counter space MAM baby, for example, makes pacifiers that come in a sterilizing storage box that keeps them clean and allows you to sterilize them quickly via the microwave (only three minutes!).

And now on to the really tough stuff…weaning. 

Weaning your child off the pacifier can be a big source of stress for parents and caregivers.

Here are Dr. Sethi’s tips to try to ease the pain for you and your little one.

  • Be patient and calm throughout the process.
  • Communicate with your child. Explain to them what is happening and why.
  • Limit the pacifier to certain times of day and stick to that schedule- consistency is key.
  • Keep the pacifier in the crib and then remove it when your child falls asleep
  • Distraction works great. If your little one cries for their pacifier, try using other toys and games to get their attention.
  • Offer your little one a transitional object (blanket, soft toy) to take the place of the pacifier. This can often help comfort them.

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