How to Get Your Toddler to Say Goodbye to the Pacifier

Pacifier's can be both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because they instantly soothe and stop the crying, and a curse because if you can't find it at bedtime -- you're in big trouble. I've spent far too much time looking under couches, in diaper bags, and toy bins in a desperate search for the needed paci.

How to Get Your Toddler to Say Goodbye to the Pacifier

When you feel your toddler has reached an age where weaning them from their beloved paci is right (or you're just ready to due away with the "paci locator stress"), here are some pointers to guide the process and smooth the transition.

Before You Start

1. Be Committed. Both parents need to be to supportive of the process and willing stick to it. If you give your child their pacifier back after they cry or makes a big fuss, it teaches them to simply protest long enough and mom or dad will give in. This makes taking the paci away next time even harder.

2. Remind: Remind your child that pacifiers are for babies, not for big boys and girls. Verbally admire what a big boy or girl they're becoming and that they won't be needing their pacifier much longer.

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3. Time it Right: Take the pacifier away on a day when the following few evenings will be a typical routine for your family. Transition is easier for a toddler when the other parts of their world remain consistent.

4. Countdown: After having reinforced with your toddler that pacifier's are for babies, start a 3 day countdown for the last day they will have their paci. Each time they go down for a nap or bedtime, remind them how many days or naps are left until the paci goes "bye-bye". When the final day arrives, tell them, "This is the last nap (or bedtime) with your pacifier. Tomorrow we say goodbye to it."

Ways to Say Good-bye to the Pacifier

1. The Garbage Can Method: The morning your child wakes up from his or her last night with the pacifier, enthusiastically greet them, reminding them you will celebrate what a big boy are girl they've become by throwing their pacifier into the garbage and eating their favorite breakfast.

After the child puts their paci in the trash, tie up the bag and throw it in the large bin in your garage. This provides your child a visual reminder that the pacifier is gone for good. Later, if your toddler whines about wanting to get it out of the trash bin, just tell them the garbage man already came and took it away.

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2. The Baby Gift Method: Since you've already been telling your toddler that pacifiers are for babies, let them give theirs away to a "baby in need". Have your child put their paci in a box and watch while you wrap it up. From there, you have two options:

A. Bring your toddler with you to the birthing unit at your local hospital and show them the newborn babies through the observation window. Then, kindly ask a staff person if they would please give your "gift" to one of the babies.
You can have a pre-written note explaining what you're doing to help staff play along with you. We did this with my first child and it worked beautifully.
B. If your toddler already knows a baby in your group of friends or family, give the wrapped pacifier to them.

3. The Fairy Method:
A Pacifier Fairy writes your child a letter asking if they would be willing to give their pacifiers to babies in need. In return, they would receive a special gift, because they fairy knows how hard that can be.

Once the child agrees (which they should because they'll want the special gift) have them collect all their pacifiers and put them in a small baggie for the fairy to collect. Place the bag on a note or colored picture for the fairy to pick up while you're out of the house (or sleeping -- if you think your child can sleep knowing their paci is still in the home). You can also leave a thank-you note from the fairy where the bag of pacifiers used to be.

Ready, Set, Go!

You can do this mama! I did it with two of my children when they were slightly over 2 years old, and both times it went better than expected.

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Each child's reaction will be different. Some will surprise you and barely make a fuss, while others may take a couple days to adjust. Just be ready to offer lots of hugs, snuggles, and compassion during the transition. Offering a new stuffed animal or lovey blanket is also a great idea.

I hope these strategies help prepare and equip you for weaning your toddler from their paci. Best of luck to you!

Jen Heupel

Jen Heupel

Jen is a wife, mamma to three, and lover of all things real food, faith, and fitness. On her blog,, she inspires others to implement healthy rhythms that nourish the mind, body, and soul.

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