There are loads of words used to describe these remarkable things: Pacifier, dummy, binky, dum dum. They have treated you well and have given you a tool to get your child to sleep.
A pacifier has been a tremendous weapon in your arsenal, until now. Now, you need to find some pacifier alternatives for toddlers, because now it is time to get rid of it.
While I have written a post to help you rid your child of a pacifier, I neglected to give you some alternatives.
So, here I am, giving you some pacifier alternatives!
7 Pacifier Alternatives For Toddlers
You want your child to leave the pacifier alone for many reasons! I struggled when it was time for my son to get rid of his pacifier, so I devised the following list to bring the odds of success in my favor!
Each alternative in this post is carefully constructed to offer comfort, distraction, or just plain bribery! Here are my pacifier alternatives:
This is one of the most obvious choices and works alongside the comfort theory.
My son has had the same blanket since he was born. He has fallen asleep ONCE without it, and that was because my wife drove away, blissfully unaware that she had just left me up the creek without a blanket.
I knew he was tired, and boy, was he grumpy! It is times like this when you need to think fast. ‘Let’s go and get it!’ I said. He agreed.
I put him in the car and drove about 2 miles before he was fast asleep in the back! Classic’ get the kid to sleep’ routine.
I parked back home, put him in bed, and waited for the arrival of the blanket and an apologetic wife. Of course, I played on it a bit, so she knew how much of a struggle it was!
A blanket can give your child security, especially when something big is happening, such as you taking away their pacifier!
2. Night light projector
It astounded me how easy it was to get my toddler to sleep when I started to use an awesome light projector!
In terms of pacifier alternatives for toddlers, a light projector excellent, but only works at night!
It gives them something to focus on rather than thinking about their pacifier.
Take a look. I have already detailed the best light projectors for babies and toddlers. Any options will keep your child transfixed on the ceiling until they fall asleep.
To wean your toddler from their pacifier, you need to be the ultimate distractor!
When they call for the pacifier, you always need to have something much more important and exciting for them to turn their attention to, making light projectors an excellent tool!
By ensuring your child has plenty of sleep, you improve their physical and mental development. Light projectors are a great way to take your child’s mind off their pacifier!
3. Soft Toy
Like the blanket tip above, a soft toy is a great alternative to a pacifier because it brings them comfort. Why not go to the local toy store and get your toddler to pick one themselves?
That way, they get the whole build-up to dropping the pacifier. One of the most complete pacifier alternatives for toddlers!
The build-up will mentally prepare them for the loss. Tell them what you are planning, and they can pick out the soft toy that will replace their pacifier.
They will agree if they are anything like my son because they get to go to the toy shop!
As your toddler is giving up the dummy, you should expect some angry altercations. To counter that, when you get to the toy shop, look for some calming toys too.
4. A piece of your clothing
Nothing brings a child more comfort than a parent, and you do not want to get into their bed as a pacifier alternative!
Getting into bed with your toddler will simply add another bad routine to their life.
The smell of a parent will bring comfort, so why not ask them to pick one of your t-shirts? You can then wear it for a few hours and give it to them to settle them down as they go to bed.
Again, getting them to pick the t-shirt will add to the build-up and prepare them for the change.
A thumb is a great alternative to a pacifier for toddlers and babies.
There are 2 problems with this tip, though:
- It will still affect the growth of their teeth
- It is a greater challenge to break the habit
Breaking the ‘sucking thumb’ habit is much more difficult than getting rid of a pacifier. You can take away a pacifier, but taking away their thumbs might get you into trouble!
As far as pacifier alternatives for toddlers go, this is a perilous one!
Give them a bottle of milk to drink as they drift off to sleep.
Every time they think about reaching for the pacifier, they will take the drink instead.
You must be careful if you have been through the whole ‘potty training’ thing because too much liquid can make them wet the bed. Please do not give them fizzy drinks or sugary drinks before bed, it will rot their teeth while they sleep.
Milk has some natural sugar, but it is not as bad.
Ensure you remove the drink from their bed when they are asleep, but put it near their bed just in case they wake up at night. If your child has a milk allergy, you can ignore this tip!
7. Boxing gloves
Here it is, the one you will not believe, but I am telling you, this is how I weaned my son off his pacifier, so I HAD to offer it as an alternative.
The story is my son was big into boxing that week, so I suggested I buy him some boxing gloves in exchange for him giving his pacifier to the pacifier fairy. She would then pass it over to a baby to help them sleep.
He agreed, and I went and ordered him some! From the first night, he ditched the pacifier and slept with his new boxing gloves.
After 3 nights, the gloves went away in a drawer, and he hasn’t been interested in them since. It is one of the most bizarre pacifier alternatives for toddlers, but one that worked!
It doesn’t matter though, because they were a great, but bizarre alternative to his pacifier!
Transitioning your Toddler Away From the Pacifier
Here are some strategies to get your toddler to stop using their beloved paci!
- Pacifier Fairy: This strategy involves introducing the concept of a “Pacifier Fairy” who comes to collect pacifiers from children who are ready to give them up. Parents can help their toddler “mail” their pacifier to the Pacifier Fairy; in return, the child can receive a small reward or token of encouragement.
- Pacifier Graduation: Similar to a graduation ceremony, this strategy involves celebrating the milestone of giving up the pacifier. Parents can create a special certificate or diploma to mark the occasion and even throw a small celebration with friends or family.
- Pacifier Swap: For toddlers attached to the actual pacifier, trying a new type or style of pacifier can be a helpful transition. Parents can gradually introduce the new pacifier and eventually phase out the old one.
- Pacifier Freeze: This strategy involves setting a date for when the pacifier will no longer be used and “freezing” it in the freezer until that time. The child can be involved in the process and even help place the pacifier in the freezer.
- Pacifier Replacement: As mentioned above, replacing the pacifier with a chosen alternative can be helpful. This could be any of the options on this page. Gradually increasing the chosen alternative and decreasing pacifier use can help make the transition smoother.
Remember, it’s important to approach the pacifier transition process with patience and understanding. Every child is different and may require different strategies and support.
Celebrating small victories and offering plenty of encouragement can go a long way in helping toddlers say goodbye to their pacifiers.
Reasons why a toddler needs a pacifier
Let’s start with why your child has grown attached to the pacifier and why you have let it get this far!
- It gives them comfort – This world can be tough, especially if you are brand new and everything is a little scary! A pacifier will comfort your child, especially when they are put to sleep in their bed and it is a bit dark.
- It replicates a nipple – Yeh, I said nipple, get over it. As a baby, you may get your food source from a nipple, which is comforting because you feel close to the source.
- It helps to get your child to sleep – This one is for you, which is probably why they still have their pacifier.
- It settles them – Again, another one for you. If they fall over or hurt themselves on something, or they will not stop crying, you can feel good knowing that you have a pacifier to soothe them until they stop crying.
Reasons why you need good pacifier alternatives for toddlers
You do not want their teeth to stick out.
Some folks (including me) believe that using a pacifier for too long will change the growth of your child’s teeth. They will grow out instead of down with too much pacifier use.
Studies have shown then frequent use of a pacifier increases the chances of your child developing an overbite. Some studies suggest pacifier use will negatively impact the development of your child’s teeth.
It looks ridiculous as they get older.
Whenever I see a toddler with a pacifier, I want to slap the parents. It looks ridiculous, grow a pair and put a stop to it!
Using a Pacifier may slow their speech development
Research suggests that using a pacifier may slow speech development. When your child’s development is working at a million miles per hour, you do not want to do anything to slow it down!
Are there any pacifier alternatives for toddlers that work?
The bad news is, no, there are no 100% guaranteed pacifier alternatives for toddlers! It sucks, right? Excuse the pun. What I can give you, though, is SOME alternatives.
One of these will surely work; you only need to try one at a time. Remember, your child needs to learn to live without a pacifier, and you need to stand firm and NOT give in.
The last tip may sound strange, but it DID work for my son! It sounds unbelievable, but it genuinely did.
I am sure you will find a tip that works because they can work as pacifier alternatives for toddlers!
It is time to think outside the box, though. I found the boxing gloves worked well for my son. You may not have much luck with them.
Instead of boxing gloves, why not pick something your child is into, and use that as an alternative?
You have to act fast, though, after 1 week, he wasn’t into boxing anymore, and there is no chance they would have worked.
Rewarding toddlers for good behavior is an excellent tool in any parent’s arsenal. The danger is that your toddler may begin to realize they get new toys for making positive changes. Sure, that is a good thing, but when they realize it, they will take advantage!
Think about rewards that do not come with a financial cost, such as a visit to the local park.
I hope it works out for you, and I wish you luck, and an ungodly amount of patience, because you may need it, but these pacifier alternatives for toddlers will help you through.
Nobody said raising a toddler was easy, right?