- How to identify if the pacifier is a prop or is OK to stay
- 4 Methods to Remove the Pacifier on your Sleep Coaching Journey
- How to get rid of the pacifier in Toddlers / School-Aged Child
- How to get rid of the pacifier for your baby
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Podcast Episode Transcripts:
Disclaimer: Transcripts were generated automatically and may contain inaccuracies and errors.
Welcome to the kid’s sleep show, where we help tired parents from around the world to get their children to fall asleep independently, sleep through the night and build healthy sleep habits for life. I’m your host, Courtney Zentz. Now let’s sleep together. Hello, and welcome to this week’s episode of the kids sleep show. My name is Courtney Zentz. Thank you so much for joining me out here. As your resident child sleep consultant, I’m here to tell you all about probably one of the biggest things I think that plagues parents for the first several years of life. Now, if you have a little one who doesn’t use a pacifier never took a pacifier doesn’t care about a pacifier. I would say to some degree, consider yourself lucky because they will often adjust to life without a pacifier by using things like their fingers, or even rhythmic rocking or motion to settle. And you’ll be well on your way never having to worry about this little tiny plastic thing that children love to chew on and suck on and seemingly keep around for forever. If you are one of the many parents who struggle with your child settling independently to sleep, sleeping through the night, waking four or five times to get the pacifier put back in, or frankly, a toddler or school-aged child who is still using and relying on that pacifier as typically more of a measure of comfort than needing that suck reflex, then we are going to chat you through today the four main ways that you’re going to be able to ditch the pacifier. After you identify whether or not it’s a problem. So I want to start by explaining first that not all pacifiers have to go. I think there’s a misconception especially amongst my peers, depending on their level of expertise and or their ability to kind of guide you with experience. Frankly, a lot of folks come out certified in the pediatric sleep coaching or consulting space. And they sort of only trained based on what they were taught because they don’t have any experience. Okay, I’ve worked with 1000s of children privately around the world, and I can tell you sometimes pacifier spine to stay. Sometimes it needs to go and I’m going to take you through what that means and what it looks like. So if you’re talking to a sleep consultant today, who says it must go absolutely 100% they may be inaccurate, right? The first thing you need to understand is that want versus need mentality. Okay, does your child want the pacifier? Do they need the pacifier as the mechanism to go to sleep? And so if the case is that they just want it? Well, that’s a habit. That’s often something I see in toddlers, and they say, give me the pacifier, they can often verbally tell you to give me the house fire, right? In which case, it’s like all right, we may need to address this because it’s turning into behavior that’s really unbecoming of you know, the kid getting on the first day of school bus for kindergarten still has pacifier in their mouth. So that is more of a behavior-based adjustment, which we’ll talk about on the back end of the podcast. For right now, I just want to get into that want versus needs assessment, and the common four ways that you can get rid of it outside of the behavior, and then we’ll get to the behavior at the end. So if you have a baby who is reliant on you to put it in, meaning that they, they kind of want the pacifier, and they also need the pacifier, depending on their age, because it does provide a decrease in the risk of SIDS. It provides that sucking reflex that many babies are looking for, right. So there is an aspect of many children who calm through the use of a pacifier. Okay? However, if you’re the reason that they’re waiting, meaning that you have to be the physical person who walks into their room or pops over to their bassinet or crib, if your room sharing, and puts that pacifier back in three, four or five times a night, five times an hour, you have a baby who’s created a crutch or a prop, as we recall, speaking to it in this space, and that prop needs to go because you have now become the prop as the mechanism to put it back in. If you can teach your child to use the pacifier and put it back in themselves, and when it falls out, put it back in then great that pacifier can stay. You know, I remember very, very fondly because it was probably one of the funniest moments I’ve had as a sleep consultant. over five years ago, I had a client who I told that they needed to remove the pacifier if their little one couldn’t put it in themselves. And I believe that little one was roughly around seven months of age so they were more than capable of putting it in themselves if they you know, truly had to from a mobility standpoint. And the parents basically said Look, let’s just give it one more night and see what we can do. And they sent me a photo of the baby. And they said, Hey, Courtney Does this count for independent settling. And it was a picture of like 15 pacifiers in the shape of a halo around the baby’s head. And I chuckled, because technically, that’s fine, you’re not the reason that that little one is waiting to go in and put it in, they now have set that expectation that little one has to get the pacifier themselves, and they’ve given 15 different opportunities to do so. And it was perfectly fine, a little one didn’t need the mom or dad to come in, in the middle of the night, we kept the pacifier, and it was no big deal, right. So if you have a child who’s willing to put it in themselves, or able to put it in themselves, and sometimes not quite yet willing, you have to teach them to do that, to help them understand that it’s their responsibility, and also to self settle, and some good ways that you can practice doing that or like in the daytime, when you’re down on the floor with them, and they’re doing tummy time or they’re on their back, looking up the little play yard, right, put that pacifier kind of in their hand or near their hand, and teach them the motion of grabbing it and moving it towards their mouth, right repetition is going to yield a skill set development as they practice. So if you definitely want to keep it around, and you know that your little one can sleep, if they fall asleep with it in their mouth, and maybe it just falls out and they don’t wake, or you know that at some point, they have successfully put it back in themselves, it can stay. Okay. There’s no underlying challenge with pacifiers with the exception of you being a mechanism because you’re just a prop, you’re a bad habit, you know, as easy as it is to say that, like you’re it’s much easier for them to cry and you to come in and put it in them to figure out how to do it themselves. Now, if you have a little one who is really reliant on you, in order to put it in, that’s a problem, right? Because now you’re going in for naps. The naps are short, so they’re not consolidating nighttime sleep is short. So they’re not sleeping through the night, right? You are sort of reinforcing, you are reinforcing, right a bad habit, because every time they’re breaking through a sleep cycle, which is every 45 to 60 minutes, they’re looking for you to put the pacifier back in. Okay, so the first thing that you can do that I’ve seen out in blogs that I’ve advised my own clients to do, and I’ll tell you, it’s probably in my opinion, the least successful, but I want to explain it because it does work for some kids is to slowly and very, very tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny cuts at a time, take the top of the nipple and cut it. And then you cut a little more, and then you cut a little more, and then you cut a little more. If I was a child, I would seriously be annoyed with the fact that my pacifier was cut because you can immediately feel it right, your tongue goes immediately to it. And it’s somewhat pisses you off. So I have found that babies kind of go No thanks. Next, right when it comes to that approach, but I wanted to put it out there because I’ve definitely seen, you know, Pinterest and different parenting blogs and stuff where they talk about doing this. So I’m sure for some kids somewhere it’s effective. It’s not something I’ve seen be excessively, excessively successful, but it’s definitely an option. So over the course of a week, you’re slowly cutting the nipple off little by little by little by little until you get to the point where you have a knob and baby no longer wants that pacifier. Same thing with your toddler, they no longer want the pacifier either because it’s this Weird, Gross nub that they’re kind of just finagling their tongue around. Okay, so that’s your first way to ditch it again, probably my least effective, which is why it’s first on the list. The second is going to be what I have found to be the most effective when it comes to both babies and toddlers, frankly, in removing the pacifier and helping them to learn to self settle. And that is taking your pacifier and putting the tiniest little pinhole in the top of the pacifier. Because what you are doing is creating a break in the suction that they’re seeking. Yet to the naked eye. It doesn’t look any different to your child. As a sleep consultant, I see a lot of different ways in which babies are using pacifiers, and a lot of ways in which it’s really a terrible habit for them. And it’s causing a lot of disrupted sleep. So this has been my number one way to kind of get kids off the habit of it and get them moved on because kids are very flexible. And I’ll explain what I mean by that in a minute. But basically, you just take a pinhole pop it in the top of that pacifier and go here you go a little Billy, and your little toddler runs off and then all of a sudden is like, Huh, this is weird. It doesn’t suck the same but looks fine, right? Because they don’t see the pinhole in it right. Now, with babies. It’s the same idea that they’re going to try to suck. It’s not going to satisfy that sucking reflex and then they’re going to kind of spit it out and go, what else okay. When you get to the point where there’s the what else, there is going to be the aspect of protest and escalation. And that’s very common when you’re doing this. But it typically only lasts for one night, when you have a child who’s learning to settle independently without the pacifier, they have to recognize that they have the tool in their tool belt in order to do it. You know, one of the analogies I use a lot of times is a screwdriver, right? So many of you that are listening have probably heard of a Phillips head screwdriver, and a flathead screwdriver if you haven’t gotten google it quick. But basically, there are two different types of screwdrivers, probably two of the most common here in the States, right, you’ve got a Phillips head and a flathead. Most of our children are basically taught different things. The way in which I fall asleep is with the pacifier right? Well, that’s fine, except that’s how you perceive that you must fall asleep. It’s a bad habit. Okay. And so if that pacifier falls out your response as a baby is to go, Well, wait a minute, I just lost the pacifier, I must have that to fall asleep. And then I cry till mom comes in and puts it back in or dad comes in and puts it back in. Right? So in that case, you know, it’s more of a that that will kind of want versus need mentality. Now, that means that essentially out of their tool belt, they’re grabbing a flathead screwdriver. So the pacifier is a flathead screwdriver. It’s a short term fix to a problem. Okay? The issue is that the screw you’re trying to screw in is a Phillips head screw. So now you’ve got this flathead screwdriver, which technically works on a Phillips head screw, but it’s not the most efficient, right. So each time your child’s waking, you have to go in and put it in. And that’s where, you know, there’s sort of this confusion because it’s checking the box. But it’s not the most efficient way to do that, right. If you teach your child the ability to settle independently, what then starts to happen is they go for the Phillips head screwdriver, right? That skill set sleeps a skill, right, everything built on top of that foundation is going to what’s keep it strong and sturdy, so sleeps a skill. And if you teach them that they have that Phillips head screwdriver in their tool belt, they didn’t even know it, it becomes a heck of a lot easier for them, and a heck of a lot easier for you, for them to use that screwdriver to connect the dots when it comes to the pacifier, right. And every single time they do it, it gets quicker, easier, faster, just like anything, and creates a good positive sleep habit. Either they’ve decided to drop it because they don’t care. Or they’ve decided to keep it, they’ve gotten a practice. And they know that they need to do it themselves. Two ways that you can take that pacifier away, depending on the age of your child, right? If you’re dealing with an infant, it’s going to look a bit different. Because if your child has an addiction to that pacifier as a habit that they’ve built around it, and you don’t know how to remove the pacifier, without tears, there’s going to be a bit of balance, because they’re going to be pissed, you’re taking away the only thing that they know how to use in order to settle which means they there is a gap in their understanding of how to sleep independently, right, that’s the basics of sleep training, they do not have the fundamental ability to self settle, because they perceive that they need that pacifier to go to sleep, they don’t need it, they just wanted. And you have to show them that that Philips head screwdriver is in their tool belt, right. So when that happens, you have to get rid of the pacifier. And I will say it’s not something I recommend that you slow play, we’re just going to get rid of it at bedtime, but they can have it overnight. And then I’ll get rid of it for naps, like just get rid of it. Because the quicker your child learns, which honestly is one day, the easier it is for them to begin consolidating, which then creates longer naps, which then creates a happier baby, which then creates better eating, which then creates an easier bedtime, which then creates your child sleeping through the night. Period. That’s it. Right? When you give your child the gift of independent sleep, they don’t wait for the reasons of I need help putting the super pacifier back in and then I’m gonna pass back out. And they’re no longer getting that broken sleep, which wakes them feeling groggy. So honestly, it’s going to be taking it just it’s done by by, and that first bedtime, they can use their fingers. Sometimes they’re going to rock rhythmically back and forth. Like, you know, there’s emotion kind of going back and forth or side to side. Sometimes they’re sucking on a hand or a finger. Sometimes you know them just like a noise. And that’s a rhythmic sound of self settling, right. So sometimes you have to give your children the opportunity to learn that they have the other tool. They just don’t realize it. And then from there with consistency, at the end of the first night that pacifiers gone every single time. And I’ll tell you I work with kids at three months old, four months old, five months old, 10 months old, two years old, 12 years old. You can change that behavior in one night if you’re consistent because survival of the fittest, it’s human nature. It’s our instincts, right? Like, you’re not just going to drop somebody in the middle of the forest and have them go I’m dead, right? You go, alright, let me figure out another way I can get some heat get some food, like nobody teaches you that you sort of just know that I got to do something else. Kids have that sort of instinct to I kind of say survival of the fittest because it’s like, Man, I’m gonna wait you out, but you got to figure it out. And sometimes it is a little bit more, where you have to coach them to it right, that’s where the practicing in the day comes in. But if you can teach your child that they either recognize they don’t actually need it, or that they can do it themselves, life becomes a heck of a lot easier. When you start to get into the toddler age, it has turned into more of a behavior. It’s a sometimes a safety net right sense of comfort to children who are otherwise unsure how to manage your balance their emotions, and one of the things that you can do is actually to use something like the Binky fairy. I think a lot of kids love stories. And so you know what I used to do, actually, when my son, when I wanted him to drop the pacifier was I took a box, I went to the dollar store. And I just decorated this really pretty box. And I put it in his crib. And I wrapped it right. So it was like a present sitting in there. And inside the box was this really cute little toy, I think he was just getting into Legos at the time. So it was like a really basic little Lego. And he was three years old. And I’m like, okay, buddy, like you got to get rid of this thing. And so I left the president in his crib, he was still in the crib at the time, and it was all wrapped. And when he went to bed that night, he pulled kind of his little blanket down and there was a president under there. And he went, Oh my gosh, the president like it had pretty ribbon on it and stuff. And I was like, buddy, you can only get that present. If you hand over the pacifier. And I read a note from the pacifier fairy that said, Please give me your pacifier. And I’ll give you this present. Other little boys and girls needed in it. So kind of you to share, right? And so my son had initially when I went to leave the room and say, you know, good night, I was like, Alright, buddy, like you either get the pacifier or the president, what do you want? His first response was the press or was the pacifier. And I was like, Oh, alright, well, that didn’t work, right. And so I went over to grab the present out of his crib, and started to walk out of the room with it. And he’s like, whoa, wait a minute, I changed my mind. I want the present, not the pacifier. So he ended over the pacifier gave him the present. I shove that pacifier down my pants somewhere I didn’t, I would just went into the abyss of my pants. And you know, it was like, Alright, well, here you go. The pacifier has gone. Poof. And now you have this present. So he couldn’t quickly ask for it back. Because I basically said like, it’s gone. I don’t I don’t know where it went, right. And the pacifier fairy took it he opened his President got a little like Lego or stuffy or a warmie® or something, I don’t know. And I think it was a Lego at this time. But basically, that was it. He never asked for it again. He never cared. He didn’t look for it, you know, and I was kind of laughing cuz I’m like, Damn, I waited three years to get rid of this stupid pacifier. And you didn’t even care I gave you a $9 Lego and all was good with the world. And he moved on, he literally never asked for it again. So sometimes things like the Binky fairy can be super helpful. As long as you’re consistent, right? You got to hide those pacifiers get rid of them. And then they’re gone. Like, once they’re gone, they’re gone. And there’s kind of no going back. Because it is behavior, they don’t need it to sleep, they want it to sleep because it makes them feel cozy, and then get something else to feel cozy. Maybe it’s one of your T-shirts that smells like you, you know, you can always replace that pacifier with something else to provide that comfort to our little ones. Okay? If you do end up just having to take it, as I mentioned, go around the house and remove the pacifiers from all over the place. I do have some clients that will get rid of it for bedtime. But if they’re in the car with their little one, they may use it because they scream the whole time in the car, that kind of stuff is fine. Like they’re still humans, right? It’s just the balance management of it so that the habit of it goes away. Okay, so when you’re talking about getting rid of the pacifier, the first thing that you need to do is identify whether or not it’s a problem, and whether or not it needs to go. Once you do that you need to look at their age and go, is this a behavior? Or is this truly a feeling that they need it to go to sleep right in their little baby minds, usually, it’s more of behavior after 18 months, sometimes between 12 and 18, it starts to shift into behavior and you can usually tell that, but before 12 months, it’s really that want versus need assessment, and then you have two choices, cut the top off, or put that pinhole in it. You have the Binky fairy or you just take it all together and say Tough luck and you know, get some sleep. So all of those different things are going to be something you can do if you want to really assess the situation with the pacifier. And whether or not it’s helpful in sleep. I’ll tell you if you’re going in five times a night, it’s not helpful, because it’s broken sleep for you and broken sleep for them. And how you feel in the morning is how they feel. They just can’t express it. Okay, consolidated. restorative, independent sleep is what kids want. It’s what you need. It’s what they need. It’s when your body grows, it’s when your emotions regulate. It’s when all the crap gets cleaned out of your brain overnight, and constantly waking even for two or three minutes is disturbed sleep and can be super agitating for you and for them. So my advice to you is to feel empowered to make the change. Kids are going to be a-okay without a pacifier. A lot of kids don’t take best hi Hackers to make the choice and move forward with the decision to get rid of that pacifier. And always if you’re stuck if you’re struggling if you don’t know what to do or if you think you don’t, I’ve tried all
this. It doesn’t work for me. What can we do Courtney jump out to my Facebook group. It’s called slumber Made Simple. I’m out there at least couple of times every single day answering questions, seeing what’s going on asking for feedback. And so I welcome you to jump out there. I do a live q&a every week where I take your questions live, it’s me on camera. Sometimes they look like a dumpster fire sometimes I look put together kind of depends on the day you’re catching me. Either way. That’s really me. And I answer all your questions, my team, the summer squads out there as well. And if you’re ready to just move forward on your journey to sleep training or coaching, I have a beautiful team of 12 folks, they’re all over the country. I’ve The only male sleep consultant in the US. They’re a husband and wife team. I have folks in every different timezone. I mean, I just have the most wonderful qualified people on my team who are there to lovingly support you in addition to myself. So if you’re feeling empowered, and you’re like, today’s the day I’m getting rid of the pacifier, go home, grab a safety pin, pop a hole in the top of it. And let’s get going on a little bit of more sleep for you and for them. So until next time, I hope everybody has a beautiful rest of the day. Enjoy the rest of the summer as it unwinds and I look forward to seeing you next week where we’re chatting all about supported sleep. Hold on one more thing before you go. As a valued listener of the kids sleep show, I want to help you build a great sleeper not just in the times you’re listening to the show. But all day every day. Every week of the year. I have a new Facebook group called slumber Made Simple. It’s a place together with other parents looking for sleep support, laughs and the latest in sleep research, to build a family that is rested and at their best day in and day out. If you want to be part of the community where you can get free sleep support, weekly training sessions, unbelievable content and so much more. Head on over to tiny transitions.com forward slash community. That’s tiny transition stuff comm forward-slash community or head over to Facebook and search slumber Made Simple. drop me a note and let me know when you join. I can’t wait to see you there.