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How to wean from the pacifier

We are often asked at St. Louis Hills Dental Group at what age should children stop using pacifiers. The largest pacifier available in stores is one for an 18-month-old child. We encourage parents to start weaning their children off pacifiers at that age if not sooner. There is an increased risk of children developing posterior crossbites or anterior open bites if a pacifier is used past the age of 2 years. In some situations, these bite problems may not self-correct if pacifier use is not stopped by that time.

We recommend a 6-week program to stop pacifier use:

  1. Both parents need to be in agreement about the timing of stopping the pacifier.
  2. In week two the pacifier can no longer leave the house. Don’t have it in the diaper bag or car rides or going to the store.
  3. In week three the pacifier can no longer leave the bedroom.
  4. In week four the pacifier can no longer leave the bed. If the child goes to daycare or a babysitter this is a good time to get the child used to sleep during the day without one. The child may have to have its back patted while going to sleep but things will get better.
  5. In weeks five and six the child should be pacifier free 75% of the time. Parents can cut part of the tip-off of the pacifier to decrease the suction of the pacifier. Sometimes even the whole tip can be cut off to eliminate the ability of the pacifier to be held between the teeth.

Some families decide to have the child give up the pacifier “cold turkey” giving it to Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, or a new baby in the family. The child can then be given a new toy, like a stuffed animal, to compensate for the pacifier.

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