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7 strategies to get rid of your toddler’s pacifier

It’s time to get rid of the pacifier.

And you’ve known for months that you need to bite the bullet and just do it…but you keep putting it off.


Because you think it’ll be too hard. (Crying, tantrums and sleepless nights!)

You think you’ll cave and give it back to him.

And then you’re right back where you started – only worse – because your child now knows he just needs to put up a fuss and you’ll eventually give in.

Instead, don’t leave temptation within reach…get those pacifiers OUT OF THE HOUSE!


Here are 7 strategies that moms I know have used with success:

1. Send them to the paci fairy to give to a little baby that needs them more
I’ve seen this work really well, especially with older toddlers who help package up the pacifiers and physically mail the package.

With an older toddler, you may even consider giving him a little gift for his “generosity”!

Note, this will backfire if you’re pregnant. I’ve seen some super smart kiddos ask, “Why do we need to send my pacifiers to a new baby? Why can’t I share mine with our new baby?” And if you’re planning on using one with the new baby, you’ll have to be really vigilant that your older child doesn’t sneak one out of the diaper bag and hide it under his pillow!

If it’s close to a holiday, you can also say Santa will be leaving a special toy and taking the pacifiers for other babies.

2. Enlist the help of a slightly older – and pacifier-free – friend or relative
Sometimes you need a little prodding from a peer to show you don’t need to hang on to a pacifier.  Peer influence is a pretty strong motivator! This would work well for an older toddler with a friend or relative that’s visiting for a few days instead of just one afternoon.

3. Accidentally lose them
Oops, you can’t find them! Depending on the age and temperament of your child, he may throw a few tantrums and then forget about them after a few days or he may suggest going to a store to buy new ones.

You could also do this one more gradually, slowly taking one or two out of rotation every day. Once you get down to the last few, tell your child, “Looks like we only have a couple of these left!” And then over the next few days, oops, they get lost too.

4. Big girl (or boy) praise
Positive reinforcement can be a huge motivator. Depending on the age of your child, hearing you talk to grandma or a friend saying, “She’s such a big girl, she doesn’t need a pacifier anymore!” can really give an ego boost and depending on the temperament and personality of the child, be enough of a motivator.

5. Go on a trip and forget to pack them
I’ve seen this work really well and be a total fail. On one hand, you can say you left them at home – or they got lost in the luggage – and they don’t sell pacifiers wherever it is you are. Some kids will accept this and start having fun on vacation.

Others will be scouring any shop you go into looking for a replacement and be waiting to go home and get back to the pacifiers!  (That’s why it’s a better idea to say they were lost in transit…) And if the pacifier is a big sleep prop for your child, this will likely cause lots of sleepless nights while on vacation – or at the very least super late bedtimes or short naps.

6. Poke a hole in it
It’ll lose the suction and your child will quickly lose interest in it because the calming, repetitive motion of sucking will not be possible anymore without the air tight seal!

This, to me, seems like the best option if you don’t want to go cold turkey because your child will likely give it up on his own when it no longer serves its purpose.

7. Cut all the tips off…
And then leave them scattered around on the floor and when your child finds them, say the dog ate them!

But seriously, this could work (and has according to one mom I know).  99% of the time, the child will say it’s broken and want another one. Since you snipped ALL the pacifiers, they’ll all be broken, and most kids have no interest in using a “broken” pacifier. You’re going to have to play dumb on why the pacifiers are all broken…

You could also do this gradually cutting the very end off, and then before each bedtime, cutting a little more off until the hole is big enough that there isn’t any suction left.


A couple of helpful tips:

  • The most important thing to remember when eliminating the pacifier is once you make the decision – don’t look back! It’s extremely confusing for a child to have it taken away for a few days and then gets it again for some reason. Keep it consistent, don’t cave, and the pacifier will soon be a thing of the past!
  • If you choose to cut the tip off, be very careful that there aren’t any loose ends that your child could swallow!
  • Make sure any caregivers – nanny, grandma, DAD – all know what’s happening. If there’s one person that doesn’t know the plan, it’ll backfire when the pacifier is introduced again.
  • Choose the right time to eliminate the pacifier – NOT right before you’re returning back to work, moving, etc.
  • This process is MUCH easier if your child has independent sleep skills and isn’t using the paci as a sleep prop. If you need help developing those good skills, hop on over here to schedule a time to chat.
  • Do a complete sweep of the house to make sure you get every last pacifier – in the diaper bag, your purse, in drawers, under the bed or couch, in the toy chest, kitchen cabinets, etc.


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Photo credit: Deposit Photos | ia__64



  1. […] Or if you’re looking for some other ideas (or specifically how to say goodbye to the pacifier on the third day), check out this post I wrote compiling what some of my clients have done! […]

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