Congratulations! You are here because you want your toddler to give up their pacifier. This is fantastic news!
You will soon have a little one who doesn’t rely on it for comfort, and times will be happy, a real milestone in parenting.
Studies show a difference in the dental arch between those who gave up the pacifier early and those who kept it during the toddler years.
You can check out some pacifier alternatives for your toddler, or you could carry on reading for 5 tips to consider when getting your toddler to sleep without a pacifier.
How To Get A Toddler To Sleep Without Pacifier
1. Pacifier Books
A great place to start planting the seed of withdrawal is to find some children’s fiction books and read them to your little one.
Hearing stories and seeing other children give up their pacifiers can make a massive difference in creating a story of your own. It also allows some understanding that this happens at a certain point and that it is normal to say goodbye to pacifiers.
A lot is to be said for giving this part of the process some time.
All children love cozy reading times. Another great tip is making up your own story to tell your toddler, featuring them. They are in the story adds to the magic, making it as fun as possible!
2. Turn On The Patience
You will need to think and somewhat prepare for what is ahead.
Some parents get lucky and have a reasonably easy ride, while others struggle with their toddler detaching. Whatever the path ahead is for you, you will need to familiarize yourself with the art of patience.
It can take time. It’s that simple. And each child is different, so advice from one parent may not suit you. So you know your toddler best, and you will know which approach to take when giving up the pacifier.
When you finally start phasing out the pacifier the way you want to, consistency is essential. For example, try not to let the tears or tantrums give them the power to get their pacifier back.
You will only make it harder for yourself the next time you try and take it away, which will be detrimental. Patience is key!
3. Be Good With Timing
You want to pick an ideal time to take their pacifier away in your toddler’s life. If you are going through stress at home, or your little one has recently started or is about to start daycare, it isn’t a good time to take away their comfort.
Find that window of opportunity where your child is in a happy, familiar place for the best and quickest transition. You might also like to avoid coinciding with other huge milestones such as potty training.
The younger your toddler is, the easier it will be to take away their pacifier.
If you have an older toddler, they will be much more aware of changes, so even something like vaccinations the next week or returning to work may also need to be considered.
4. Be Gradual
If your toddler has had their pacifier day and night and you will take it away altogether, and you haven’t seen Gremlins, the good idea is that you reign back and start thinking about dropping it during the daytime first.
Once this has been established successfully, consider then dropping the nighttime pacifier. You can read more about this below.
You will encounter smoother sailing by needing their pacifier a little less before it has disappeared completely. Your child won’t be traumatized when that one thing they are used to having 24/7 has suddenly been trashed forever.
5. Reward Stickers
A more fun approach is to introduce reward stickers. Show me a kid who doesn’t love stickers! Every day, night, or nap, they get through without needing their pacifier; they get to pick the sticker of their choice as a reward for being so brave!
They are also great for encouraging children to give up something they don’t need anymore and allow for really positive cooperation.
Encouragement in stickers can also be a sneaky way to give some positive control to your toddler.
Depending on how they do without the pacifier, they get to decide which sticker they would like and how often they receive one.
This is a very popular strategy.
Stopping Day Time Pacifier Use
The usual and advisory first step is to think about ditching the daytime habit. Gradually reducing your toddler’s pacifier use has many benefits, and swapping it for a new toy is one of them.
For instance, ‘We are going out, but we said we would leave this at home, didn’t we?’ Instead, your toddler could choose a new or favorite toy to take as a pacifier replacement (distraction!)
By taking away a pacifier during the day, children will learn to live without it and cope without it.
If your toddler starts demanding their pacifier, explain the new situation while remaining calm, and remind them of their new toy if that is the approach you wish to undertake.
Once you are happily settled here, it is time to consider limiting pacifier usage on other occasions.
Stopping Night Time Pacifier Use
All that’s left is to tackle nighttime pacifier use, and this is probably the trickiest of all. They are alone in their rooms at nighttime, and sleep cycles dip us in and out of deep sleep.
Sometimes, you will notice a pacifier falling out, and the child is far too asleep to notice.
Still, suddenly upon stirring, they sleepily search for it in their cot or bed, find it, pop it back in their mouth, and lay back down to sleep without even opening their eyes.
This is not only out of habit but for pure reasons of comfort.
When you are ready to take the nighttime pacifier away, you will see repeat patterns of daytime withdrawal. On top of that, you will have one exhausted toddler, and it can sometimes appear to be harder to do. However, if you remain consistent and calm, you will achieve your goal faster and better than becoming upset or regretful.
Did I do this too soon? Are they ready? The truth in their developing minds is no; they aren’t. But remind yourself that the time is now.
What Can You Expect On Your First Night Pacifier Free
Taking away pacifiers at night can be hard or easy, depending on how your toddler responds. Tears. Sighing. Tantrums. All are incredibly likely as you enter the darkness of the first night.
Telling your toddler that this will be happening is very different from actually happening, and when the time does come, they will be in for a shock when their usual comfort has gone for good. So whether the surprise is big or small, expect a different settling period.
You are going to need to be very consistent. Your child needs a routine that includes a bath, reading books, then heading off to bed.
Make sure their beds are the ideal setting, with a favorite blanket or teddy, and that it isn’t too dark if they wake in the night.
As your toddler responds to not having their pacifier, you will want to go in and soothe them with a kiss or a hug.
Now that patience needs to kick in, you may be called back a few more times. So try and stretch out the intervals by a few minutes or so.
Your toddler will eventually fall asleep (even though it may not feel like it at first), but you need to remember to follow the same pattern subsequent nights until the need or want for their pacifier has gone entirely.
Conclusion – Hang in there!
Want to know how to get a toddler to sleep without a pacifier? Then this post has you covered!
Babies and toddlers are all very different – the pressure of taking away their pacifier overnight can be more significant than the reality that it simply isn’t for all.
A great image in the back of your mind is that there will soon be a day your toddler no longer asks for it or needs it.
The journey there can be tricky, but you will all get there with determination and a sprinkle of patience!
Just remember to have a good schedule for your toddler’s sleeping patterns! Check out this sample sleep schedule for 2-year-old kids for ideas.