At What Age Should Your Kid Ditch the Pacifier?

posted: 08/11/15
by: Courtney Reimer
Little girl sitting in front, playing with plastic dishes. Her mother holding  her baby girl in the background.

The pacifier seems to be an inevitable part of every parent's life -- even if it's to decide not to go down the pacifier path -- and inevitably the question arises of when it's no longer okay for your child to have one.

David Beckham recently took to Instagram to fire back at critics who sniped that his 4-year-old girl, Harper, is too old for a binky.

"Why do people feel they have the right to criticize a parent about their own children without having any facts ?? Everybody who has children knows that when they aren't feeling well or have a fever you do what comforts them best and most of the time it's a pacifier," Beckham wrote alongside a snippet of a tabloid article about Harper's pacifier. "So those who criticize think twice about what you say about other people's children because actually you have no right to criticize me as a parent ..."

As a parent who's had to either A) endure the wailing of my 2-year-old demanding her "paci" in a public place or B) give in to quiet her down, I know it's not an easy choice on many levels. That said, it's eventually a good idea to make that break (no one really wants to be worrying about their kid keeping track of a pacifier in kindergarten), so here are some great tips we've gleaned from experts around the web:
  • The longer you wait, the harder it gets. So try to make that break sooner than later. The APA recommends kids ditch it by 24 months.
  • Teach other self-soothing techniques. This one is a toughie because you probably don't want to have her replace the paci with a thumb-sucking habit, or get her too attached to another comfort object, but if you can teach her how to breathe or just take a quiet moment, that's fantastic.
  • Trade it in. We loved this tip from Dr. Sears, who said some stores will be in on the deal with you, where you trade the paci for another toy.
  • Peer pressure. Or at least positive influences. Surrounding your kid with non-pacifier-loving children will send a subconscious message.
  • Try a three-day-plan for breaking the habit. Sometimes having a deadline for when it's time to say "bye bye binky" can help both you and your child move on.
If you have any tips to share for breaking the binky habit, we'd love to hear them! Share in the comments, on Facebook or Twitter @TLCmeNow.