How and Why to Use and Lose the Pacifier

when to use and wean the paci

The pacifier is one of those sleep aids that people tend to shy away from fearing their baby will become addicted to it and will end up a social pariah when they show up at the Senior Prom with their adult-sized binkie pinned to their lapel. But despite all the bad press pacifiers have gotten, pacifiers are a powerful tool that I encourage ALL parents of newborn babies to embrace, along with swaddling and white noise, WHENEVER their baby is sleeping. Pacifier use has many benefits including:

  • Sucking on a pacifier while falling asleep has been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS. (Note: You don’t need to put it back if it falls out, the benefit comes from having it WHEN falling asleep, not necessarily after.)
  • Pacifiers are enormously soothing to babies and can when combined with other soothing techniques (notably swaddling and white noise) can significantly improve sleep and reduce crying.
  • Pacifiers can meet baby’s need to suck while giving Mom’s boobs a much deserved break (and give Dad a chance to step in). And despite previous beliefs about pacifier use undermining breastfeeding efforts, current research suggests pacifier use doesn’t negatively impact breast feeding and may even help.
  • Pacifier use leads to more saliva which is a natural antacid (especially useful for refluxing babies).

Do you Need to Wean Off the Pacifier?


Many babies can happily use the pacifier for months or even years. Dr. Karp suggests that babies should continue to use the pacifier for up to a year or longer. He also suggests that getting rid of the pacifier is no big deal. Which seems to contradict all the parents for whom the paci has become the bane of their existence.

So it seems that some proportion of babies will have no issues weaning the pacifier but the remaining babies will wake up screaming about the pacifier every 1-2 hours all night long until they are 3. Which means their parents will need to get up 4,380 times to reinsert the paci before their child a) outgrows it or b) figures out how to get it and replace it for themselves.

If you’re running into any of these issues then it’s time for the pacifier to go:

  • Your whole life has devolved into paci hell. If the path between your bed and baby’s crib has become your own personal Trail of Tears as you shuffle back in every 45 minutes all night long to reinsert the paci.
  • Baby has chronic ear infections.
  • Baby is over two years old. There is some conflicting recommendations about dental care and pacifier use. But there does seem to be some evidence that consistent use of a pacifier past 2 can lead to tooth misalignment (although the real issues seem to happen when using a pacifier past 4). It’s also been linked to tooth decay.

When to Lose the Pacifier?

The easiest time to stop using the pacifier is just before ~4-5 months of age. Babies don’t remember things exist at this point so out of sight is literally, out of mind. If you’ve been giving them lots of soothing sleep cues (swaddle, white noise, sleep routine), the loss of pacifier at 4 months may go virtually unnoticed.


If you stop using the pacifier before 4 months you…

  • Miss out on the SIDS protection provided by pacifier use at the time when the risk of SIDS peaks (the risk significantly decreases after 6 months).
  • Remove a powerful tool from your arsenal in successfully navigating the dreaded 4 month sleep regression.
  • For some particularly oral babies, even WITH all the great soothing you’ll continue to provide, you’ll see more night waking and shorter naps.

Still for most of you, gradually weaning off the pacifier before your baby is 5-6 months old is probably the easiest and least error-prone option. I would encourage you to discuss this decision with your pediatrician to help weigh the potential advantages (ease of weaning) against the disadvantage (forgone reduction in SIDS risk). Babies at greater risk of SIDS (preemies, exposure to smoking, etc.) might be encouraged to continue to use the pacifier until their first birthday for safety purposes.

But what if you DIDN’T ditch the pacifier by 4 months? What if you’re now the parent of an 8 month old baby who screams as if in physical pain if the paci isn’t reinserted within 5 seconds after waking throughout the night?

It’s time to come up with and execute a paci weaning plan.

Weaning the Pacifier

There are two basic strategies to getting out of paci hell. But regardless of which strategy works for you, every parent who is working on ditching the pacifier should do ALL of the following:


Give your baby MANY sleep cues.

If you’ve been popping in a paci then plunking baby in bed you’ve got a “not enough sleep cues” problem. When you remove the paci you’ve left….nothing! So before you lose the paci, make sure you’re giving your baby as many age-appropriate sleep aids as possible. At any age, this should include a consistent bedtime routine, loud white noise, and a dark room. For younger babies (under 6 months), also use a swaddle. For older babies/toddlers, a lovey.


Cut down paci use during the day.

Lots of babies simply exist WITH a pacifier. But if you’re ready to drop the pacifier at sleep time, it’ll go easier if you start with day time. Start with small windows of time and use lots of distraction (songs, play, go outside) to distract baby from the loss of beloved pacifier. Gradually increase those windows until there is little or no paci use during the day. (It’s OK to keep using the paci for particularly rough spots if you need it.)


Market the lovey.

Talk about the fairy who said good-bye to her paci but had a magic lovey who cuddled with her whenever she slept. Wear the lovey under your shirt so it smells like something wonderful (YOU!). Play with the lovey together.

Two Methods to Quit the Paci

#1 – Go Cold Turkey

I love Ferber. His book isn’t fabulously entertaining but it’s a fantastic resource based in credible science. This is a direct quote from his book about how to loose the paci.

Often, falling asleep just once or twice without the pacifier is enough for a child to master sleeping without it. If he is very sleepy at bedtime, the learning will be even easier, so starting with a later than usual bedtime for the first two nights will help. Sleeping without the pacifier should certainly be routine after one or two days.

So simple, right? Honestly I don’t know what all the pacifier fuss is about. Just stop using it.

However if we squint a little, it should be clear that what Dr. Ferber is talking about here is CIO. And depending on how things are going, your baby’s age and temperament, and just how exhausted everybody is, this is definitely an option to consider. Or at least consider it as a fallback plan. But first you might want to have a go with….

#2 – The Pull Out Method

Of course if you were successful with this strategy you wouldn’t have a baby to begin with (badum-CHING!). Some of you may know this method as the Pantley Pull Out/Off. You do your normal soothing bedtime routine and put baby down in the crib with the paci. When baby’s sucking slows you gently break the seal and remove the pacifier BEFORE baby is fully asleep. If baby drifts off to sleep, it’s time to catch up on Survivor.

If not try to use minimal soothing to settle baby back down without the pacifier. Often jiggling the crib (so baby’s head jiggles lightly) or gently patting baby’s back like a tom tom are good non-invasive techniques. If your baby continues to fuss, reinsert the pacifier and repeat the removal process until baby falls asleep. This may take a while (hours) so it’s best to Tivo Survivor or you might miss out.

Repeat this process when your baby wakes up looking for you to provide your standard paci reinsertion services throughout the night.

The process should get easier with subsequent nights until eventually you don’t use the pacifier at bedtime at all. Some lucky parents will be done with this within a few days but don’t be surprised if you’re still at it for 10-14 nights. This technique requires consistency and patience. Just don’t give up and LEAVE the pacifier in baby’s mouth as this will undo all your hard work.

some babies love their pacifiersIf you feel it’s not getting you anywhere or your baby is just getting frustrated/angry with you and you’re ready to give up and just pop the pacifier back in, don’t feel bad. You aren’t the first parent who couldn’t make the “no cry” option work. There are many factors that feed into your ability to make “the pull out” work and most of them (baby’s temperament, level of attachment to the pacifier, sleep deprivation) are beyond your control. But it’s probably time to take Ferber’s advice and just. Stop.

So, anybody have any paci stories they care to share? Any super secret paci tricks that worked for you? Stories from the trenches?
{Photo Credit: Julie Chapa}

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  1. We never thought our 2 1/2 year old daughter, Destiny would EVER give up her “Nummy!” She had about 100 stashed all over the house like a Squirrel storing nuts! Finally I had a talk with her about 2 months before Christmas. We made a plan to give up the “Nummy” & she made a video to send Daddy, who is an over-the-road truck driver. She explained on the video how she is going to find all of her “Nummies” & collect them in a basket. Then on Christmas Eve (along with milk & cookies & reindeer food) she was going to leave the basket for Santa. The story was Santa was going to take her “Nummies” to all the new little babies, & in exchange he would leave a BIG GIRL toy! I posted her video to my Facebook page & when our friends & family would “like” or comment to her video, she was getting more & more proud of herself for being ready to give them up. We decorated a basket with ribbon & she said her goodbyes…meaning she had 1 last suck on each, then she went to bed, leaving her basket on a table with a coloring book page that said “Just for Santa.” She went to bed easily & when she woke up in the morning she had seen that Santa wrote her back! He thanked her for the milk & cookies & the reindeer food & her special gift! Although her “Nummies” were gone, her basket wasn’t empty! She had some small gifts inside of it & next to all the usual festivly wrapped gifts was 1 BIG PINK gift for the BIG GIRL! (A play kitchen!) She’s been so busy making food for her babies & being a little mama, I think she forgot all about her “Nummies!” :-D

  2. I have an almost 5-month-old and (compared to my first), I’d say she is “easy.” She falls asleep fairly readily — for naps by being held and walked for a few minutes, with the pacifier in her mouth. I have been trying this “gradual pull-out” method for two months, I feel like …. and she’s fine, she stirs a bit and settles to sleep without the thing in her mouth. But I can NOT get her to just fall asleep without it. And at night, we’ve gotten into the “soothe 2-3 times before I really fall asleep” routine. As in, she’s asleep I set her down, I pull the paci out, she stirs and falls asleep. anywhere from 20 minutes to 1 hr later she’s awake and we do it again. Might happen 1 more time and then she’s asleep for her first long stretch. So basically we’re stuck in a pull-out rut and can’t seem to move past it. Luckily the rut exists only for bedtime and not for naps or other night-time wake-ups.

    • Have you tried to let her fall asleep on her own without the paci? I mean, lay her down and let her fall asleep. What I did is sort of CIO: I let him cry while I was in the room with him, patted him 4 or 5 times and stood right outside his door. He would cry for about twenty minutes at first but then gradually he started falling asleep right away. He just started sleeping more than 3 hours at night because of this method. It takes soooooooooooooooooooo much work so don’t be discouraged!

      • thank you Alicia! i want to wait until she’s 6 months to let her fall asleep on her own. she might be able to do it now, but i want to wait until i’m on spring break from work and can get her good naps during the day so she’s well rested. then i want to remove the pacifier and also move her into a crib in another room (she’s still in our bedroom, but wakes only twice a night to eat so i can’t complain except for the repeat early night wake-ups).

    • I realize that this post is a year and a half old! But, my 8 1/2 month old has been doing the same thing since he was about 6 1/2 months old…I think it started a few days after I started giving him purées and I immunizations. But he’s STILL waking up 30 mins to an hour after he falls asleep the first time, and sometimes he does it 1-2 more times. He never has his binky during the day except naps, but I’m just curious what you did for your baby, because no one else knows what I’m talking about. SOMETIMES I can just stand near by when he wakes up and rub his back and make sure the binky doesn’t fall out, other times I have to pick him up and restart since he’s sooo wide awake! Thank you!

      • Hi Taylor,
        ha, i remember 5 months old being a real turning point for me, the apex of bad bedtimes. at 6 months old we did cold turkey on most things — no more swaddle, no more nursing to sleep, no more pacifier. we let her “cry it out,” but for her it was really more of a “complain it out,” as she cried the 1st night 20 minutes, 2nd night 5, 3rd night pretty much nothing. i felt paranoid for weeks when i put her down awake but she seemed fine. are you putting your baby down awake for bedtime? it may be time to lose the binky once and for all and help him learn to fall asleep on his own. i hope this helps!!

  3. Just a quick success story to share…our third baby is now 5 months old and has never been a great sleeper. He would wake up 45 mins into every nap and would only sometimes go back to sleep if we went in and gave him back his pacifier. Nights were sometimes ok – no night nursing but often several times of getting up to give him the pacifier to fall back asleep. Last week, though, the nights got crazy. We were doing the once-an-hour trip to give him his pacifier, and even then he sometimes wouldn’t settle. After finding this amazing website, I was pretty convinced that we’d reached the object permanence issue and needed to teach him to sleep without the pacifier. He sleeps swaddled and with white noise, so it seemed like he still had plenty of other sleep cues to get him to fall asleep. This past Tuesday, I put him down for his first nap without his pacifier. He cried for 8 mins and then slept for 45, cried for 5 more and then slept til I woke him (to go get big sis from preschool) – a 2 hr nap in total. We continued to do naps without the pacifier for the rest of the day with mixed results. Bedtime was about 20 mins of crying, and then he woke up 3 or 4 times during the night and cried for various lengths (up to 25 mins). I wasn’t really sure if we were going to do full-on CIO, but that’s kind of what it turned into (even though he’s not quite 6 months yet, he’s not a kid who responds well to having us come in and comfort him, unless we have a pacifier to offer!). Second day and night were pretty similar to the first, but then the third day and night were awesome. He slept through every nap (with a bit of crying at the 45-minute mark) and through the night (without any crying at all) and did so again yesterday and last night. We’re pretty amazed. And he’s actually a lot happier when he’s awake too. Losing the pacifier and letting him teach himself to fall back asleep has been fantastic so far. Here’s hoping this is the new norm!

    • Hello MamaO!

      Your comment has given me hope, given that losing the pacifier seems to have improved your situation. I am in a very similar situation with my 5 1/2 month old – hence the web surfing at 2 am. The only difference is that mine still wakes up once or twice a night for nursing (over a 12-hour period). Quick question – when you say you put him down for his nap without the pacifier, are you putting him down awake? Or did you hold him while he cried for that 8 minute period? And did you just let him cry without going in, or were you patting/shushing, etc.?

      • Hi Sarah! I did (and do) put him down awake. And I let him cry without going in – my offers of shush/pat type comfort have not been well received in the past, so I just decided to give it a shot cold turkey. It worked great for him. Two weeks later, he’s still going a full night without any assistance from us. He’ll often wake up at least once during the night and chatter/wimper for a few minutes, but he settles himself down without our help. Naps aren’t perfect, but certainly overall better than they were when he had the pacifier. Not sure if your little one is still swaddled or not, but I feel like that was key for our success…he’s very clear on when it’s time to get ready to sleep and seems to accept it pretty well. Good luck to you!

        • Hi.. I have a 2 month old and I use the soother only to put my little boy to sleep. I would like to stop that habbit as I stated using the soother to calm him down as he had severe colic.

          Please advise.

    • How did things continue to go? I realize it’s been a year since this post…I too have a 5 month old who sound EXACTLY like your little one. I am on day 1 and half of no paci and having similar results. Really curious if you are still glad you took away the paci. Did he start sucking his thumb in absence of the paci? Any insight you have is VERY much appreciated! Thanks : )

      • Hi! So we continued on without the pacifier up until our little guy was ready to be done with the swaddle, which was right around 8 months for him. We’d still been giving him the pacifier for comfort (and, honestly, to keep him quieter!) during awake time, and he had slept with it occasionally in the car seat. So, when we stopped the swaddle, we actually gave it back to him in his crib. He used a sleep sack (and still does, at almost 18 months), and transitioned no problem. He still does a 12-hour stretch at night, and seems to be able to find his pacifier when he wants it. We’ve had the occasional times where he’ll toss it from the crib if he doesn’t want to go to sleep…my approach is to give it back to him once and then leave him to handle it himself. If he tosses it again, then he’s sleeping without it (and, surprisingly, he has done that a few times).

        We’d used pacifiers with our first two kids from the start, and I think I’m the one who really has the addiction around here. :) I felt like I wasn’t going to know what to do with an older baby who didn’t take a pacifier, so I intentionally kept him receptive to one. It ended up working out great for us, since we often have our kids nap other places. Having the pacifier as a sleep cue is so helpful for us! So, to summarize a really long answer, I’m glad we pulled the paci so that he could learn to self-soothe and sleep through the night, and now I’m glad that he takes it and sleeps with it again. Good luck to you!

  4. Hi Alexis,

    Thanks for your site, it’s been very helpful. I have a 5.5 month old and over the last two weeks she had been sleeping through the night (a 12 hour stretch!) with no work from us. We originally did a lil sleep training a month ago to break her of her swaddle cause she was rolling over in her crib; we were still feeding her twice a night, and out of nowhere she started sleeping through the night on her own. We were obviously stoked!

    Here’s the problem: 4 days ago she randomly started waking in the middle of the night. When she did I started using the paci to get her to go back to sleep. Prior to this I would use it to initially get her down, it would fall out, but there would be no problem. Night two she woke more, I used the Paci more, night three got even worse, and last night was awful. She was up every 45mins/one hour, I’d give her the paci, she’d fall asleep, it would start all over again. I’m wondering if you think an object permanence problem can happen this fast? We didn’t always use the paci to get her to sleep, we just started to in the face of this abnormality, and things are rapidly deteriorating. I don’t want to start giving her the bottle in the middle of the night – she slept through by herself without any weaning and I feel that even though it may have been early it would be a step back to do that. Is it possible she’s just going thorough a growth spurt or something? Is it possible the 2 weeks period of sleeping bliss was the abnormality and I just need to think of it as a fond memory? Please help!

  5. My four-month old daughter relies on her paci to fall asleep – she’s not interested in it at any other time. Waking up when it falls out is not an issue during nap time, but it is an issue overnight. Right now her evening schedule is: bedtime between 7-8pm, dreamfeed at 11 before I go to bed, then next feeding is at about 7 a.m. However, the night waking for her paci starts at about 3 a.m. Sometimes it’s just the one time, but other nights it feels like I’m up every 45 mins after the first waking to put the pacifier back in.

    I am happy and willing to wean her off the pacifier at this age – especially ahead of ‘object permanence’- but my husband and I do not want her to start sucking her thumb as a substitute. What are the risks that this will occur if we wean her off the pacifier now? Any thoughts on the lesser of two evils in the long term? i.e. happy to wait this out until she can replace the paci herself if it means avoiding the thumb-sucking attachment.


    • Im right here with you at 6 months. For me I think its time to go im just plucking up the courage to deal with all the crying to come. Good luck.

    • My daughter sounds a lot like yours. Do you mind sharing what you ended up doing and how she responded?

  6. My little guy is now 6 months old. He loves his pacifier as much as he loves me I think. However, his older brother had a difficult time getting rid of his because we finally took it away at 1 yr. With my new little guy, we started the process yesterday. COLD TURKEY. He fussed for nap a bit {I am still nursing to sleepy state} so here is my question. How long do I allow him to adjust to not having a pacifier until I start not nursing to sleep and to try the 20 minute thing before nap/bedtime?

    • Update- My little guy is not longer using a pacifier. It really took 1 night without it. The only problem now is that he is using me as a human pacifier. I think I need to bite the bullet and now work on eat-play-sleep. He has a STRONG will and associates breast + mommy holding him= sleep.

      He is now waking up about 4 times a night for a breast, holding him won’t work. After I feed him and hold him for about 20-30 minutes, he goes back to sleep without the pacifier.

      I need any mom’s help out there that was successful with the eat-play-sleep thing. How long do you wait to go in to console him? Or do you? How long did it take to be successful? Did you use it for naps as well? Again, any feedback is wonderful. I need some encouragement that I can do it. PLEASE HELP…. ANYONE.

      • I tried it. I actually went ahead and finally decided I am a big girl and I can do this. My little bean survived his first night with CIO without the pacifier. After a good week or so without it. The plan- I followed Alexis bedtime routine boob, bath, massage, pj’s, book, song, kiss and phrase to go to sleep, then bed. NOT EASY BUT Alexis is pretty much a genius. He fussed for little less then an hour. I know this is the right thing for our family. Those of you out there that are reading these messages, you can do it too. Make a plan, get a support buddy, stay strong, and get busy doing something else while you little one learns how to fuss until he/she learns how to fall asleep. Alexis already has the plan for you… CUT the associations. Your baby is capable of it. It may be YOU that is holding him/her from becoming a good sleeper because of YOUR fears. GOOD LUCK. Sleep well.

        • Hi Joanne,

          I feel like I am in the same boat as you were. My 6-month-old was addicted to his pacifier, and I ditched the pacifier (cold turkey) a little less than a week ago after some rough nights. However, he still has a very strong sucking/sleeping association, and usually freaks out if I’m holding/rocking him close to bedtime or naptime, as he wants the boob. I know he’s not hungry because I will have just fed him, but he will not go to sleep without either falling completely asleep at the breast, or sucking on his thumb (if he can find it).

          My questions for you are:

          1. Are you now feeding 20+ minutes from any sleep? (naptime AND bedtime?) I’m pretty sure this is my next step – change the schedule so that feeding is at the beginning of the bedtime routine.

          2. When you say he fussed for an hour, was he full out crying, or just kind of whimpering? I feel like I can’t handle the full-on crying for that long a time, but bedtime is becoming a lot more difficult these days.

          Your post has given me some hope, but any other advice or hints would also be appreciated!

          • Hi Sarah,
            We must have twins separated at birth. I am not sure I can help because my little guy is still waking up 3 to 4 times a night to nurse. I let him cry or fuss for about 10 or so minutes before going in. Once or twice a night he will go back to sleep without my assistance but the other times, he works himself up so I have to go feed or he will wake the whole house up.

            Regarding your questions-

            1. I am feeding about 10 or so minutes before bedtime and knock on wood… he is wonderful about going down without fussing. Now, we have been working on that for about a month and he has finally started to only fuss/cry/bang his legs on the bed for less then 5 minutes. Tonight, not a peep. Small victory. Naptime- I feed to sleep because otherwise he is not going down unless we are in a car without me nursing him.

            2. Like I mentioned above, the first week was the hardest, he cried for about 5 or so minutes, then whimper off an on, then be silent, then cry and this would continue for about 45 minutes the first few nights. Then it all worked out and he has been MUCH better falling asleep on his own.

            My problem continues to be night feeding. The weaning deal isn’t working for me. I tried reducing the amount of time he nurses {worked on the 12:30 feeding}and he just gets really agitated and cries to the point he is AWAKE not sleepy anymore. He is stubborn. He uses me for a little sip of milk and then as a pacifier.

            I hate to even imply it but I think night feedings will diminish on their own when I stop breast feeding. I will stop around 8 months. I did with my now 3 year old and that is when he dropped most night feedings because he didn’t want a bottle.

            Time will tell. Good luck with your journey.

  7. Hiya,

    Just found your site, wonderful!

    Quick question, I’ve been trying to research the paci/SIDS thing. I know that it’s great for putting baby to sleep in a crib/swing, etc., but what about co-sleeping breastfed babies? Obviously they can still self soothe (On the breast).

    Any idea on that? My 3.5 week old will NOT take a paci…and she gags if we try to “give” it to her.
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  8. I am at the point where I have a 10/11 month old baby and I ready for him to get off the paci it seems like he cries for it now and then when you give it to him he get’s quiet. I have removed it from his mouth when he falls asleep and he does wake up at night crying for it.

  9. I have a 15 week old baby girl who is generally a pretty good sleeper – especially considering she has reflux along with what our pediatrician believes is allergic proctocolitis (have tried elimination diets and cannot find the culprit).
    She naps in the swing through the day and sleeps in the propped up bassinet at night.
    I have used a paci with her since 2 weeks of age to help with her reflux and it is part of her bedtime/nap routine (white noise, swaddle, paci, lullaby). She used to spit it out when she started to go to sleep and it would stay out no problems. However a couple of weeks ago her reflux flared up along with a bout of constipation and I really used the paci a whole lot to help settle. She loves to suck! Everytime it would pop out I would quickly shove it straight back in.
    Anyway I knew I was digging myself a hole and have again started to cut back on paci use during the day when she is whingy but still use it for sleep with the eventual goal of weaning her from it by 5 months.
    However I just went to put her to sleep for a nap with the usual routine and found every time she was close to sleep she would spit the paci out then lie there moving her head from side with her mouth wide open like one of those clowns at the fair! At first I popped the paci straight back in how I usually would and immediately her eyes would get sleepy then POP! Out it would come again and her eyes would be looking for me to put it back in. I gave her the benefit of the doubt and put it back in for her again….and again…and again. This went on for 30 minutes until I freaked out thinking how everytime i put it back in I am reinforcing this behaviour. It was clear she knew spitting the dummy=mums presence to put it back.
    Then i did the unthinkable – i let her cry it out. It took 15 – 20 mins but she finally went to sleep for 40 mins.
    So my question is do I commit to cry it out now that I have done it once? If I backtrack now do I make it harder later? I did want to have that paci in my arsenal for teething etc. Or Do I go back to putting her to sleep completely in my arms with or without the paci before putting her down?

    • She also started rolling over today meaning I wont be able to swaddle her much longer either. And we were going to move her from bassinet to crib within the next month. If I do decide to CIO is it better to do it all at once or will we have to relive the CIO nightmare again? She goes from fussy to hysterical quickly and CIO is something I really wanted to avoid due to her reflux.

  10. We are now 2 weeks and 2 nights post cold-turkey-no-binkie, and I wanted to leave a comment about how it’s gone for us. I trolled these comments religiously while going through this process so I wanted to make sure to contribute to it as well!

    Right before our LO turned 5 months, we reached the pinnacle of sleep deprivation–she was regularly waking up 10-20 times a night (pretty much every sleep cycle). It got to the point where she wouldn’t let us put the binkie in her mouth until we first picked her up (smart girl)!

    After reading Alexis’s paci article, we decided to ditch it cold turkey. We started on a Friday night so we wouldn’t have to go to work the next few days. We decided to do a modified CIO by staying with her the whole time, patting her belly. We also did some preliminary rocking in the rocking chair before putting her down. We used white noise and had her swaddled, but with one arm out (so she could find her thumb). She pretty much screamed and writhed through all of it, but on the first night she fell asleep after only 20 minutes! She then woke up every hour and cried for 20 minutes.

    During that first week she was waking up probably 5-7 times a night, crying sometimes for an hour at a time, but sometimes just letting out a peep and putting herself back to sleep. She did find her thumb, which she now sucks regularly at sleep time. We went cold turkey without the binkie for naps too. They continued to stay b/w 30-45 minutes on average.

    We have had a few really good nights with her…maybe 3? She did some nice 6-8 hour stretches, and even had one night when the only time she woke was to feed (2 x). Mostly, however, our nights are still really rough. The last few days she wakes up at either 11, 2ish, or 5-ish, and cries for an hour +. Tonight, for example, she woke at 10:20 and wouldn’t settle until midnight. I nursed her, rocked her, patted her belly, and finally put her in the swing until she cried herself to sleep. I think she cried just as long in the swing as she would have in the cosleeper, to be honest. While we aren’t spending the entire night anymore reinserting the binkie into her mouth, we are still feeling pretty lost as to what is preventing her from consistently putting herself back to sleep. Even with some soothing from us she just isn’t wanting to fall asleep!

    Lose the binkie if it’s causing you problems. Everyone will be better off for it. BUT–it may not be the cure-all you’re hoping for.

    • Hi Colleen,
      How did it turn out with your LO? My LO is just over 4 months and waking us up every 20 to an hour all night long! She’s very sucky and needs it every 20 mins during naps as well. I’ve got a feeling that weaning her off is likely to go a bit like your experience rather than one of the more positive ones and I’d love an update on where you’re at now with the dummy/sleep situation.

      • Hi Helen,

        I’m sorry to hear you’re in the paci hell boat! Our LO is now 7.5 months and life is MUCH, MUCH better. I think it took about a month post-binkie before things really became more sane. It’s crazy to think we went a half a year without any real sleep!

        We continued to make more changes after we took away the binkie. By 6 months she was in a crib in a room next to ours (instead of in our room in the swing or cosleeper) and was sleeping without a swaddle (but we do use a sleep sack…a great cue that “it’s bedtime!” to keep in your arsenal). At 6 months her bedtime routine started looking like this: nurse 30 minutes before bed, read a book to her while she’s in her crib, sing a song, change her into jammies and nighttime diaper, put her into the sleep sack, turn up white noise, close blind, and then rock her BRIEFLY before putting her in the crib. She starts sucking her thumb as soon as she is rocked and I oftentimes find her asleep with her thumb in her mouth. She doesn’t suck it any other time than at nap/bedtime. She always cries before falling asleep. I’ve just come to terms that she will always cry before naps and bedtime–it’s really frustrating but it is what it is. The crying is usually very short (5-10 minutes) and then she’s asleep. Sometimes, though, it can be an 40 minute off-and-on endeavor :(

        She still has some bad nights, but the amount of sleep we get is much more sustainable than when she was on the paci!!! Ditch it. You don’t want to be taking it away when your LO is older…I think it would only be harder.

        Good luck to you…it WILL get better.
        Colleen recently posted..Eat Play Sleep FailMy Profile

        • Thanks so much for your post Colleen. Wedging the paci in my LO’s mouth between typing…! It’s very reassuring to hear that your LO has now managed to adjust to life without a paci and your experience has provided me with the motivation to ditch the dummies. I think we need to come up with an action plan quickly and prepare ourselves for a tough few weeks at least! Thanks again and best wishes to you and your LO.

  11. For the past month we have been having our 5 month old nap in the swing. Two weeks into swing napping I was committed to putting her down awake at bedtime in her pack n’ play. She goes down between 8:15pm and 8:30pm and will fuss a bit, but eventually she will put herself to sleep. I don’t use the pacifier to put her to sleep anymore unless she is extremely worked up and overtired. I haven’t had to use the paci for naps at all.

    We put her in a sleepsack, with the velcro swaddle “wings” wrapped around her body. Her room is dark and white noise is on. She does well going to sleep unswaddled. She has a lovey, which she likes to chew on and sometimes rub and put on her face (which scares the heck out of us – thank God for visual night monitor).

    She will give us some good 4, 6, hour stretches. However, when she does wake up from these stretches, I’m a bit at loss as to what to do to help her fall back to sleep. I usually shift her to her side, give her her lovey, pat her butt, stroke her back (can’t shush as she will turn to look at me, can’t pick her up as I’ve discovered it only pisses her off) sometimes this works and she will go back to sleep. Other times it doesn’t and I have to give her the paci, which yes, defeats the purpose of trying to wean off the paci.

    Last night I watched for ten minutes (on the monitor) as she tried to settle holding her lovey, arms flailing about stretching said lovey over her face, and getting frustrated. So I went in, reswaddled her, and did the old stand-by, …pacifier (I know, Alexis, but she went back to sleep – and slept 4 more hours!)

    I try to only use the paci as a last resort if everything else I’ve tried won’t work, and she will give us 2 – 4 hours at the most. Pediatrian and my husband aren’t worried about the paci use as much as I am.

    Is she just not old enough for the lovey? Should I just swaddle one arm and see how she does? Am I overthinking the paci use?

    • We were going into baby’s room at least 8 times each night to reinsert paci. She was also still swaddled. Finally when she turned 7 months we decided to get rid of the swaddle (should have done it long ago since she was rolling). I also wanted to get rid of paci, but my husband being a softie, thought she needed soothing since she would b without a swaddle. The first night without a swaddle was horrible…she cried most of the night but we went in and soothed her and inserted paci every time. Second night was much better, but the third night was a repeat of the first. So the fourth night we decided to CIO but leave the paci in the crib. We bought a wubbanub (best ten bucks we have ever spent!) and put four pacis in the crib. Of course she cried and woke up several times in the middle of the night crying, but each time she found her paci and put herself to sleep. Second night and third she cried less and less and after that she now might wake up for five mins and cry in the middle of the night but always finds one of her pacis and now sleep 10 to 11 hours straight (she stopped eating at night when she turned 6 months) . She is turning 8 months this week. So if you don’t want to take away the paci, this may be an option. I had read that kids can’t find and insert pacis until much older, but didn’t find that to b the case at all. Of course having four pacis helped! Life is great now!

      • Oh wow, 8 times a night! You are a trooper. I’m glad to hear things improved with your LO.

        It hasn’t quite gone that way here, but a week ago for a couple of nights we were heading that way. The number of times kept increasing and her nightwakings were getting earlier and earlier and more frequent. Finally, on day 4 of going in there at 11pm and 1am to give her the paci and 15 mins later she started fussing again, I was nearly in tears, I was so tired. I didn’t go back in, and I didn’t have to, she found the paci, resettled herself and slept 6 more hours!

        I decided to put 2 more pacis in the pack n’ play with her. Sometimes she finds them when she wakes up, sometimes she doesn’t. Though now we are dealing with her rolling on her tummy, which conveniently happen when we stopped swaddling her. If she gets stuck on her tummy I still wait 10 mins to go get her and put her on her back and give her the lovey. One night as I did this, I had the paci in my hand, she took it and shoved it in her mouth.

        Now we are back to going in there only once or not at all.

        The wubbanub looks genius! I wish I had seen this a month ago. I just ordered one. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.
        Jonelle recently posted..Strange Things Are AfootMy Profile

  12. How can I teach my 5and half month old to not rely on the breast or a pacifier to fall asleep? I am trying sleep cues, but it doesnt seem to be working and she will continue to cry until she gets the breast. What steps do I use to wean her off my breast and the paci?

  13. I am SO scared to take away MG’s paci. She isn’t like Maggie Simpson or anything, but she is surely a falling asleep paci addict… We are young, first time parents and we are definitely guilty of using it as a ‘quiet button’ at times, which has made the problem worse, I’m sure. We have to take one EVERYWHERE; to the grocery store, the doctors, church, the park…everywhere. When she spends the weekend with my sister in law, she trains her to fall asleep not only without a paci, but on her own. That’s not something she will do for us. Only ONCE has she. I wouldn’t care as much, but I’m a full time working mommy and my husband is a full time stay at home daddy. And since I have to be at work at 7am, he has to get up with her at night, too. (Doesn’t HAVE to, but he’s a good man like that) Help!! My honey needs some sleep!

  14. We used the CIO method to wean off pacifier on our 9 month old this weekend. Our Pediatrician said it will take one night… she just didn’t say it is a very very very long night.
    Our 9 month old has been using pacifier only at naps / bedtime. We worked on not using the pacifier during awake time using distractions / play / toys etc.
    Thursday night the saga begin on bye-bye-binky.
    7pm – Normal bedtime, loud white noise, lovey in hand, read a night story. Put in crib… cried 20mins… Mom couldn’t do it, rocked her to sleep for 40mins. Finally asleep at 8pm.
    8:30pm – Awaken, cried looking for the stupid binky.
    9pm to 11pm – Mom rocked her to sleep after 30mins of continuous crying.
    11pm – Finally fell asleep
    3am – Awaken, cried looking for binky… had to rock from 3am to 5am…
    5am – Mom completely exhausted gave up… baby CIO for 30mins continuously…
    5:30am – slept till 8:00am, awaken by Mom to be fed / start morning routine.

    Naps that day (Friday) still no binky…
    9:30am – put down for naps, fuss 5 mins, fell asleep. slept 2 hrs!
    1:30pm – put down for nap #2, fuss 5 mins, try to sleep, play with lovey, talked for 15mins, feel asleep for 1hr!

    Friday night, night 2 no binky
    7:00pm – put down, usualy night routine. 5 mins fussing. fell asleep at 7:10pm. STTN 12hrs straight.
    7:00am – talked in crib / happy baby!

    Saturday night, repeat 7pm bedtime, 5 mins fussy, woke at 7:30am.
    Sunday night, repeat 7pm bedtime, 3 mins fussy, woke at 6:30am.

    No more running in a 1am / 3am / 5am to look for dropped binky!

  15. Thank You!

    About 4 weeks ago my then six month old started waking at night and it escalated to the point where I was up 5 times a night putting his soother in, and that was taking numerous goes (20 minutes) before he would finally fall asleep and not wake up when the soother dropped out. His daytime naps were usually just for about 30 minutes too. I was exhausted (still am a bit!)

    So, I came across this article as I desperately trawled through the internet on Sunday night.

    We went cold turkey on Monday. No more soother.

    He roared himself to sleep after 15minutes on his first walk/nap (we have a dog, and he always gets his nap in the buggy while we walk the dog each morning). I let him cry for ten minutes on Monday night and then went up and sat with him as he roared at me for twenty minutes before he gave in and dropped off. He woke that night at 11, I went in and he fell asleep with in a few minutes and slept silently till 6am!

    The following day he napped with out too much trouble (including and hour and a half midday nap!) and that night he dropped off immediately and slept ALL night till 6am.

    Yesterday he only cried going down at one nap, but actually settled himself after about 3 minutes! Last night he did wake a few times, but… he went back to sleep himself!!!

    I’m sitting here at lunch time and he is asleep upstairs having gone down with only a little yelp as I left the room…

    I can’t believe how well this has worked out. I’m nearly afraid to post this comment in case I jinx myself!

    I think the practical, honest tone of the article really gave me the confidence to give it ago. Thank you!!!! Here’s hoping it lasts!

  16. hi moms, im just wonderimg if its ok for me to leave my 6and half mth boy with his paci all night, he wakes up and seems to be able to find it on his own, but last night i had to carry him up to feed around 5.30am,(he had been asleep since 8pm the night before). so my question is, do i leave him on his paci all night, or try to break the habit? is it safe for him to suck on it all night?

  17. We did CIO with my son when he was 5 months old. I was waking every 2 hours to reinsert the Pacifier…I was exhausted! So, we did CIO and cold turkey pacifier. Well, I say cold turkey I had been keeping it from him as best as I could during the day for a week. (Not very successful) So, if you count that it wasn’t completely cold turkey. But, CIO worked after a month plus our little guy hit a sleeping stride that worked for him and us and he has been a great sleepier ever since. It was not easy but, it was worth it. My blog post To Cry it Out or To Not goes into greater detail on our CIO Journey : )
    Joanna Bailey recently posted..To Cry It Out or To NotMy Profile

  18. Swimming! We just successfully weaned our 7 month old off the paci at bedtime without tears – and I credit swimming lessons! Our LO still needs the paci for naps, but we got her used to no paci at bedtime by taking it away for the first time after a late afternoon swim lesson. By the time bedtime comes on swim days, she is so ready to fall asleep that she was willing to ditch the paci. (Before this, we gradually cut down on its use during the day – now we only use for naps – a work in progress – and for major car cries). We keep one paci in the car and one in her crib and it gets used nowhere else. Anyways, thought I would pass on the swimming idea as a possibility for moms looking for a no-cry (or less cry) solution. I know naps are controlled by a different part of the brain, so it doesn’t seem to confuse her that she is getting a paci at nap time but not bedtime. Good luck!

  19. I just wanted to post my dummy weaning success story…. Seriously the best thing I ever did! And yes, it really only took 1 (awful) night!

    I too spent many many times being woken up and replugging my Dd since she was 12 weeks (until then she was only waking twice to feed). She always went straight to sleep from wide awake but wouldn’t stay asleep. At first I tried to convince myself it was a phase, sleep regression, she was cold, hungry (started her on solids just before 4 months to see if it helped), she also had a cold at one point…. A good night was getting up 4 times but it was usually many more times, 6 weeks later of NO sleep I finally accepted it was the dummy and I needed it to go.

    I know Alexis says 4 months is too young for controlled crying (but then again she also says its easiest to remove the paci before 6 months) but Ferber says from 4 months. I know cc would work and I much preferred to rip a band aid off then pull at it for hours! I had never ever thought I would ever do controlled crying let alone when she was soo young, but here we were. I was strong and determined after reading other success stories (hence why I am posting mine) My hubby was in complete agreement.

    I started at bedtime as recommended, naps are short and inconsistent anyway, whereas I did have a bedtime routine of feed, change in sleeping bag, book, short cuddle and bed (popping in the dummy) turn on white noise and leave.

    She cried as soon as I left the room. I did 3, 5, 10 (it actually only came to returning after 10 minutes once). I stroked her head, gave her a kiss and told her I loved her and we would get through this. And then I left. I found my visits made her cry more but It gave me reassurance she was not wet or uncomfortable. Her crying was frequent that night, every 30-2 hrs but short (less than 20 minutes). When she was due for a feed (1sh and 5ish) I would go in and feed and leave). However, she still smiled at me when I got her up in the morning.

    What helped with coping with the crying was thinking it was like being in the car. You can’t pull over when driving straight away when they cry… And they fall asleep after a couple of minutes, not traumatised, and they don’t hate you.

    Daytime was tough as I really didn’t know how else to settle her when upset so she ended up getting lots of cuddles, which she enjoyed! She napped in her swing with a little grizzling.

    Night 2.. (Doing 5 or 10 minutes for first return) Great! About 10 seconds of crying at bed….Only woke 3 times, two of those times she was due for a feed. Wet at 5am so I changed her….she was wide awake I thought there was no way she’d go back to sleep… put her down asleep after 2 minutes till 8am!

    Night 3…. Great again! No crying at bed this time :) Woke 3 times. Actually got a 5.5 and 4 hr chunk of her sleeping.

    Do it! Be strong, confident and CONSISTENT! Do not give in it’ll make it worse! She’s happy! I’m happy! It sucks at first but then it’s over… Like vaccinations.

    • I just wanted to make clear my new bedtime routine involved no popping in dummy… My previous post seemed to indicate that I gave it to her…

      • Just another update, Alexis probably is right about 4 months being too young lol …. She still goes down for the night beautifully with a smile but after a few good nights it descended into hell, crying A LOT stuck with it for a few days but hasn’t improved, it’s either teething or sleep regression now. Still better than pre pacifier days as its not hourly but she is desperate for something to suck so she can soothe herself, I feel rather cruel by not giving her a pacifier but I burnt my bridges, she will only go back to sleep after nursing (still only twice but now 11 and 3am) with lots of crying in between. Tried to let her cry until
        Asleep but she would cry for soo long that she was then due for a feed… :(
        So I recommend if you could hold off until 5 months at least maybe.

        • And my LO is only tiny so even though I attempted to stretch the night feeds or cut them down at 3 monthsbut she wasn’t gaining enough weight so I think she’ll still be needing a feed at night for a while, I heard if they are 14 pounds then they should be able to go through the night but my bubs is still way off that mark

        • 2 feedings a night is FINE for 4 months! I know everybody wants to be done with these things ( would too) but the truth is that some babies just need extra food. Between the soothing, growth spurts, teething, etc. I would say consider 2 feedings a night success for now. I know it doesn’t FEEL like success, but honestly, it really is :)
          Alexis recently posted..Is Your Crib as Safe as You Think?My Profile

          • Thank you thank you Alexis! When books including Ferber and tough old midwives telling you feeding twice a night at 4 months is a nursing back to sleep problem you begin to question yourself …
            And it is much better without the pacifier (no more 10+ times a night!) so yes it has been a success!
            Thanks for making me and other mothers feel better I think I just had a shit night last night which clouded my perspective lol
            Again Alexis you rule, everyone must stop reading all those crappy books!
            And don’t be afraid to ditch the dummy!

  20. My little girl is 5 1/2 weeks old. She wakes up a couple times a night crying ( which is down from 4 times a night when we brought her home). Should I be breastfeeding her back to sleep or giving her the paci?

  21. My son is 11 weeks old and I’m starting to go crazy with this whole paci thing. He will not fall asleep without it (starting about a week ago). The thing is he wakes up crying everytime it falls out. I’ve been swaddling, feeding, and using white noise for about a month which has been working perfectly but now he won’t fall asleep without the paci but it also keeps him from sleeping because when it falls out he wakes up crying.. help?

  22. Just wanted to throw a comment in. My baby boy is 3 and a half months, and I’ve been so afraid of a dependency on the binky.
    So, we started with not giving it to him at all during the day. He did that famously. Then we started a fairly consistent routine at night. Bath, book, and settle down time till sleep. I think the key with this article was that you need to have other points of soothing besides the binky. So with my son, I sing to him, hold him really closely, pat his back, do the “shush”‘s, white noise. So he associates all of those with comfort.

    I think we may have gotten it in time; he hasn’t gotten to the point where every time the binky would fall out he’d wake up, but I think overnight, he wasn’t responding to anything I was doing, and rather crying like crazy, only to be soothed by the binky.

    This is my second night of putting him to sleep without it. It takes a lot of patience, and a lot of time. About an hour of “settle down time” with about half of it, actively soothing him to sleep. But I was able to do it.
    And already, just now, actually, he fussed and I was able to get him back to sleep gently just with some “shush”es and some back pats.
    Granted it’s only the second night, here’s hoping I caught it early enough to break his reliance on it! And here’s also hoping it helps him to sleep through his night cycles better!

  23. Hi girls I have a 5 week old baby girl samia :) first time mammy . I’m looking to take her off her soother but as she’s a bit of a cryer I’m afraid she’s going to be hysterical , is she too young to go cold turkey as we are too exausted to be up all night tryng to ween off :) any advice much appreciated xx

  24. Somebody please help me, I’m a first time mom trying to learn all this good info on sleeping and the info really helps. But I don’t know what to do about this pacifier situation with my almost 8 week old son. At 4 and half weeks I’m pretty sure he went through a sleep regression, he wanted to eat back to back and would take 8 MINUTE NAPS…. SERIOUSLY. After he turned about 6 weeks it was like one day BAM he was taking 2-3 hour naps…. Until now. Now he falls asleep only with a pacifier and he won’t even hold it in his mouth well, I have to do it for him. And if he does it himself it’s only for 10-20 minutes while he’s sleeping then when it falls out of his mouth HE WAKES UP AND WON’T GO BACK TO SLEEP! So here is my question… Is the pacifier doing him more harm than good? Because if he is only going to get 15 minutes of sleep everytime he takes a nap, that can’t be good. And I feel that it’s all because of the pacifier. And if I don’t give him one he gets cranky and cries, or tries to ram his fist in his mouth. PLEASE HELP!

  25. Hi guys – My 6 month old does not use a pacifier to fall asleep at bedtime but does use one for naps. He actually hasn’t used a pacifier at nighttime ever…until just recently. We had left the pacifiers in the crib, and he started using them himself. The last two nights, I put him down at bedtime around 6:45 without a paci (no rocking, just a consistent routine of bath, change, nurse, book, lullaby; always leaving the room with him awake), and he spends the first part of the night sleeping without it. For 2 nights I haven’t heard him until 4 or 4:30 am, when he fusses/cries. I feed him (seems reasonable an exclusively breastfed 6 month old would need to eat after 9 hours) and put him back down without the paci. Any time I have woken and looked at the monitor in the middle of the night (but before the 4 am feeding) or early morning (after I put him down after the feeding but before he wakes up around 6:30), I see he has found the paci and inserted it in his mouth. I hear EVERYTHING, so I am thinking he is doing this pretty stealthily. This has felt like progress, since up until 2 nights ago when this happened he was waking up and crying around 10:30 or 11 (I didn’t feed him), waking up around 12:30 or 1 (I would feed him) and sometimes waking up again around 4 or 5 (I fed him). So to go from 2 feedings and sometimes 3 wakeups to 1 feeding and 1 wakeup (that I am aware of at least)and 9 or 9.5 hours of what must be relatively continuous sleep seems great (How awake must he be in the middle of the night when he wakes to find the paci?). I’d like to count my blessings, but can’t help but wonder if we have solved one problem but created another? Is he getting “good” sleep if he needs a pacifier in the middle of the night? As long as he isn’t crying for me to reinsert it, it can’t be that bad can it? If this keeps up where it doesn’t seem to be causing any issues and actually seems to result in improved sleep, how long before I should think about weaning him from it? I’m inclined to enjoy it while I can!

    • Hi Debbie- I would say congratulations and roll with it! Our 19 month old totally still uses the paci to sleep (only gets the paci in her crib). She learned to reinsert at about 5 months. It’s like magic, with the only downside being that it makes colds harder b/c she wants to suck and can’t when her nose is stuffy. But honestly, it’s an awesome sleep cue for her and she is a champion sleeper (11-12 hrs at night, 2-3 hr nap). The doc said that he isn’t worried about it until she gets to be 3 or so- more for teeth (and less of a worry if it isn’t in her mouth all day). And we have noticed that she has been caring about it less in the past month or so (giving it up readily in the morning, not trying to sneak it out of the crib).

      When she was first learning to reinsert we put about 7 in the crib with her and always put them in the same corner. Also put a breathable bumper on the crib to keep them in. Nothing ruins your night like waking up to “BINKY!” and going in to see them all on the floor :)


  26. My little guy is 2 and we just took away his sucky. I cut the nipple part off and left it for him to find. (we were down to one sucky left.) he was sad and i explained it was broken. I said it was garbage now. He got up, threw it out and went back to bed. Few sad tears and telling me “sucky garbage” and we haven’t looked back.
    Good luck!

  27. I don’t know if anyone still looks at these comments, but I’d love some advice. Up til now my 4 month old has woken to feed every 3 hours at night, but somehow she’s suddenly started sleeping through, which astounded me because she’s very petite and I assumed would need night feeds for many more months. Except of course, she’s not quite STTN because I’ve been doing the paci shuffle. We co-sleep (by necessity in the early days, not intention) and my question is this: do I first try to change the co-sleeping or ditch the paci? At the moment it’s easy to reinsert paci because she’s right next to me, would be more of a problem in her crib. But if I wean her off the paci first, I’ve got less chance of soothing her on her own in crib. What do you think?

  28. I need help..My daughter is 10 months old and when she was 3 months I sleep trained her into falling asleep on her own. I read this website and really did all the training that was recommended at that time and it worked well. I used the pacifier some nights because she needed it to help sleeping and then eventually it just became habit to have it in her mouth ready to sleep. Part of it was the habit and the other part was laziness for not wanting to get up if she started fussing.

    You would think when she turned 4 or 5 months I would have kept reading the site but I didn’t because I am an idiot and now I have a baby who USED TO sleep through the night (12 hours!) but now wakes up at least 4 times/night to get her paci

    now this started around 8 months old and at the time she would wake up YELLING in pain and Im pretty sure it was teething because she wouldn’t even take the paci and would cry for 2 hours straight. 6 weeks later and a tired mommy crying, the 2 teeth came out.
    BUT ever since, she still wakes up a couple times a night but now doesn’t yell just fusses until the paci is inserted into her mouth. Sometimes I let her fuss and it works but sometimes it turns into the biggest meltdown of the century and I am 30 minutes rocking her to calm her.

    I read many article about anxiety separation and for awhile I would go in, insert paci and calm her down because its a time we build trust and I didn’t want her to feel as if I would never come back or something. This has been going on for 3 weeks and now im thinking that isn’t it anymore and maybe its time to loose the paci?

    im a lazy mother and I always loved the paci because it was my easy way out of making her stop crying in the car or anywhere I go and I am terrified of giving it up to be honest. I love my daughter and I want her to have the best mom possible but this schedule is slowly killing me.

    What would you recommend?

  29. When our oldest little girl was 2 we had a visit from the “Paci Dragon” who in the middle of the night came in and ate all the ends of the nipples off (similar to Becky’s story above). She got it and moved on…

  30. Hi all couragous mamas out there! I have a question that maybe someone could answer. I have a 6month old daughter. She falls asleep on her own at bed time but with a pacifier. But I still have to rock her for naps. She would cry louldly if shes left alone in her crib despite using the white noise, the lovey and the paci. I want to teach her to start taking naps on her own. And heres my question. Should I first teach her to fall asleep for naps on her own but with the paci and then when she gets how to do it shuld I start working on quitting the paci? Or maybe I should do both at the same time. So falling asleep on her own both bed and nap times and without the paci? Wouldnt that be too cruel? ;-) thank for any help

    • I had to start doing this last week as it was getting more and more difficult to put my 4 month old boy to sleep (nap or night). I couldn’t believe it.. I took the pacifier away for night and naps and he found his thumb after a day. even the first day (without his thumb), he fell asleep within 10-15 minutes with minimal crying (i stayed by his crib and patted him once in a while).

      i don’t think there is a slow way to take away the pacifier (i guess you could still use it during the day when needed), but for sleep, i think it needs to be cold turkey.

      that’s my thinking anyway!

  31. What do you think about the Bye-Bye Binky approach which is something about cutting the pacifier slowly so it stops working (I think it’s poke holes it in, then snip the tip of it)? There some material you buy, but that is what I’ve figured from researching the approach. We’re heading towards pacifier hell and I want to get rid of it, but I don’t know what or how to do it. I’m sure cold turkey is the best, but I can’t handle the crying and we just moved him to the crib (it’s been about 2 weeks) and we still have issues with him sleeping in the crib (2 days ago he refused to sleep at night in the crib, but was fine for naps and last night he slept in the crib until 3:30 and then refused after that feeding to go back in the crib – he goes in his Rock n Play when he refuses the crib) so I don’t know if I should wait on getting rid of the pacifier until he adjusts to the crib fully or what. Jiggling the crib won’t work for me because I have a bad back and since he sleeps on his back (why does the easy method say pat the back, how do you pat the back when they sleep on their back?) I can only pat his stomach which doesn’t help him at all. Can we back track to month 3 when he was FABULOUS at sleeping for naps and night? At basically month 6 I’m going nuts. He does go to sleep by himself awake (with pacifier) for all naps and bedtime so we’re generally good there, it’s just now trying to get rid of the pacifier and cut down on night feedings.

    • To add: He actually doesn’t take it at all during his awake time (I no longer offer it) and he is perfectly fine with that. He fusses sometimes, but that is due to teething and is usually fine with a teething toy instead. I also want to get rid of it because I think with our dry air in the house, constant drool from teething it’s giving him a constant rash around his mouth. I can get it better, but it always gets worse again so I think it needs to go for that reason too, which is why I stopped offering it during the day so his skin has time without the pacifier.

  32. Hi Alexis,
    A pediatrician I saw said that although pacifiers reduce risk of SIDS, there is an increased risk for babies who are used to having one and then don’t have it. Have you heard this? It makes me terrified to use one in case we find ourselves without one on holiday or something.

  33. One mom posted and I’ll concur with her – getting rid of it might not be the cure all you are hoping it will. My son, nearly 7 months, slept fairly well with his pacifier (it did have to be in his mouth) for naps and night. His first nap would be 1-2.5 hours and his other naps about an hour long. He got up twice to eat during the night was a breeze to get back down. We tried getting rid of the pacifier last weekend and it was a fail more for me, then him.

    He did fairly well at the beginning of the night with minimal fussing/crying going down. His first nap was usually good with no fussing and one other nap would usually be good. His third and possibly fourth (sometimes happens sometimes doesn’t) were usually difficult with about 20 min of crying. Issue was all naps reverted back to 30 min because he didn’t know how to get himself back to sleep (we have a nap routine, white noise, we do not swaddle anymore).

    The middle of the night was what was killing me though. I might have to put the pacifier back in his mouth once, maybe twice and so a 2 second pop in and back to bed. That was glory to what I found without the pacifier. He had so much trouble getting back to sleep after his first feeding he would be up for over an hour which kept me up. He wasn’t fussing or crying which was good, but after feeding him and some light rocking he would then pound on the crib with his legs for 45 min until I gave up (because I couldn’t sleep with the pounding) and played music that helps him sleep outside of his door for about 3-4 min. That helped calm him down and usually within 10-15 min he’d go back to sleep, but I was a zombie because I have trouble getting back to sleep so then by the time I could get back to sleep after being up with him it was nearly time for his early morning feeding.

    So we gave up and gave him back the pacifier. Naps still haven’t hit an hour yet, but I’m hoping we’ll get back there. For some reason he still seems to have some minor issues getting back to sleep after eating then he did before taking the pacifier away, but I’m hoping it’s a daylight savings thing and will work itself out soon. It’s not nearly as bad as before with only about 10 min of pounding before sleeping (before taking the pacifier away it might only be a few seconds before he went back to sleep).

  34. I would love to see ideas on taking the pacifier away between 3 and 4 months. Everything I see just says it’s ideal to take it away at that time or before 5 months (some say 6). Yeah, right. Apparently that’s for some magical baby in imagination land. Have you tried doing that? Because if cry it out isn’t an option yet, the only other option is plop it back in the baby’s mouth and pray he stops screaming for it. I’m afraid to start cutting on the pacifier this early on because I don’t want him to suck air either (not to mention reflux issues).

    I’ve gotten the answer to just be patient from others and we are doing the dreaded shuffle across the house all night to put the paci back in. “Well it could be worse,” is our only recourse.

    So in addition, moms that didn’t make the magical cutoff age, don’t bash yourself. In case you didn’t already figure this out earlier, it’s far from magical.

  35. with my newborn the problem is he WON’T take the pacifier. He gets tired and all cranky and fussy and screaming – and won’t calm down and won’t take the paci :(

  36. When we first bumped into this website our baby was 7.5 months old and was waking up a lot during the day and night naps due to losing the pacifier. On an average night she would loose it and wake up between 10-20 times. We would only need to put the pacifier back and she would fall back asleep. But waking up that many times was driving us crazy. So we decided to “Go cold turkey”. On the first nap attempt she cried very much for about 25 minutes until she finally fell asleep. The nap time after this she didn’t cry for the pacifier. Later on that night we continued not giving her the pacifier, but since she couldn’t fall asleep for 1 hour she got the pacifier. That was the last time she had the pacifier. Now it passed 1.5 weeks and she is sleeping without the pacifier and not waking up as much anymore. This is the best thing we have done for ourselves.

  37. Anyone tried the CIO method with a 2 month old with reflux? I’m very interested in seeing how that went? My 2 month old will wake up from naps for his pacifier and at night several times I’m so done. He has reflux though so not sure if we should even try taking it. I need sleep! Anyone?

    • Hey Julie,

      Personally I wouldn’t recommend it. He’s young and he HAS reflux which is going to make everything harder. Are you using swaddling + swing + white noise? I would see if you can give him other soothing that may work better while simultaneously gently weaning off the pacifier. Plus the swing/upright sleep might be super helpful for his reflux.

      It’ll get better. Reflux is hard so your goal is MORE soothing and probably for longer than non-refluxing babies. Good luck!
      Alexis Dubief recently posted..Pediatrics Study on White Noise: Sounding Off on Sound MachinesMy Profile

  38. Please help! I have a 5 month old. She is addicted to the pacifier. It seems to really soothe her. She was doing ok with it up until recently. We would only need to replace it 2-3 times in the middle of the night and she slept great at night and for naps. Now for the past 4 days we are up 15 times a night replacing it. Today we deceided to stop cold turkey! She cried for 20 minutes for first nap, slept one hour and woke and cried again for 20 minutes back down for an hour. (Not bad I thought). For second nap, cried for 20 mintues again and slept for 25 minutes, then woke up screaming. Cried for one hour. Finally I fed her because it was time to eat. Do I feed her even though she didn’t take a nap really? (I dont just let her cry, I go in and soothe at 5 min, 10 min, 15 min, etc.) Tried to put her down again because she is so tired and she kept crying…What do I do? Please help. Will this get easier? How long does it take?

  39. Any pointers on how to get your baby to TAKE the pacifier. He is now 7 weeks old. He seems like he wants it because on the rare occasion that he actually starts sucking on the thing he seems soothed, but those moments are few and far between. He will just continue to scream while I hold it in his mouth. He’ll try to suck on it a bit and then the screaming starts back up. Also, when he does start to suck he can’t keep it in very long…so I pretty much have to sit there holding it in his mouth. Help!

  40. My son just turned 6 months this week. He has gone done fairly easily from early on. We’ve been able to swaddle him, give him a pacifier and put him down awake for bedtimes and naps. Eventually, the paci falls out and he stays asleep. We’ve had bumps, but all in all it’s been okay. Over the past few weeks, he’s been fighting the swaddle hard. He often breaks out of it and then pulls the paci out of him mouth repeatedly. If we put him down without the swaddle, which he seems ready for, he pulls the paci out repeatedly and doesn’t fall asleep. Bedtime has actually been better than naps, because he’s so exhausted by the time we get there. I’m thinking it’s time to lose the paci and the swaddle. My plan, which started this morning: use sleep cues we’ve been using (book, song, white noise) and help him get a bit more drowsy before he goes down. We’ve tried just putting him down without and he ramps up and cries for a looong time. Given he can cry for 45 mins in the car and has cried for 20 mins when put down without the paci and swaddle, I’m not ready for CIO, at this point. He’s also a bit young for it, in my opinion. It didn’t go well this morning, which wasn’t a big surprise. I tried to get him down for about 30 mins, but which point he was ramping up— all worked up and sweaty. I also have a five-year-old and a two-year-old at home. It’s amazing I could even get the 30 mins to try to put him down. So, I took him out and he skipped his morning nap. I couldn’t force him to sleep and I don’t want to give in and offer the paci or swaddle. We’ll try again in a little bit. Any thoughts about this approach? Is this reasonable?

    • I can’t offer any advice, Kate, but I thought I’d check in to see how things were going with you because I’m in a very similar situation.

      The only difference is my daughter is nearly 5 months old (a big 5-mo-old at 17 lbs). She’s also been fighting and breaking free of her swaddle at night (even a Velcroed SwaddleMe). She also takes her pacifier out if her hands are free, and sometimes she rolls over or sticks her legs out of her crib. So we’re thinking of transitioning her to a sleepsack. That means she’ll pull out the pacifier. So we’re thinking we’ll have to go with letting her cry until she can soothe (or exhaust) herself to sleep or we’ll be plugging that paci back in repeatedly.
      My plan is to start with nights and let her keep the paci for her naps for now, hoping that won’t confuse her. Once she’s good with nights, I can take it away for naps. (I want to make sure she’s getting rest during the day if she doesn’t get as much at night)
      Soooo, I’m really interested to hear how things went/are going for you!
      If anyone else has any advice as well, I’d definitely welcome it!

      • Hi Leslie!

        Thanks for checking in with me and sorry to hear you’re in the same boat. I totally understand! We’re okay, but not great, at this point. We did successfully remove the pacifier pretty quickly. He kept taking it out or spitting it out. It seemed more of a problem than a help. He did make sucking motions for the first few weeks after we got rid of the paci, but he did sleep without it. Unfortunately, the only way to get him down without the paci was to rock him to sleep and put him down. We pretty much went from the paci as his means of soothing to sleep to rocking as his means of soothing to sleep. He is still swaddled and in the Rock n’ Play, which is becoming a challenge because he still breaks out of it and is bracing himself on the sides and pulling up. We’re trying to transition to the crib. We have the same problem you do–he sticks his arms and legs through the bars. I just brought the sleep sack up from storage and am planning to give it a try. Naps haven’t been great (30 minutes at a time 3 or 4 times a day), but nighttime sleep is better, probably because he’s exhausted. I think we are also moving toward letting him cry. If we put him down without rocking him to sleep he cries for quite a while– we’ve tested it out. He has cried in the car for up to 45 minutes, so I know he can go for a while. I think we’re moving into a place of no other choices. He just isn’t going to sleep on his own (and staying asleep for naps) despite our best efforts. He’s my third and I ultimately let my other two cry. It wasn’t the approach I wanted to take, but it worked and I have a two-year-old and a five-year-old who are terrific sleepers. I was hoping by some combination of hard work and a miracle that it would be different this time. Please keep me posted on how it goes for you!

        • Our decision to let her learn to sooth herself without the pacifier (even if it meant tears) has gone better than I expected. It’s never great to hear her cry of course, but the durations are shorter than I thought they’d be. She’s now in the sleepsack instead of being swaddled (so her legs are still contained and can’t get out of the bars), and I think she’s much happier as a result.
          The first night (Friday) she didn’t even cry for her soother when we put her down, and she was asleep within 5 minutes! Maybe because it was about an hour past her usual bedtime and she was exhausted! She woke up in the night and cried from 2-3am, then slept through until after 7am. Saturday night, she cried for about 30 minutes, but then slept from 7:45pm-7:15am. And Sunday night, she didn’t cry when going down again but woke up about 4am, which had been her usual feeding time before. She “shouted” for about 15 minutes, that turned to crying for another 10, then she was asleep until 7:45; we had put her to bed at 6:40!
          So each night has gotten a bit better. I certainly hope the trend continues – we’re already all better rested so far.
          Since your other two are good sleepers, you know that this guy will get there!

  41. I started putting my 4.5 month old son in a swing to sleep. I had tried it several times before and it never worked. Suddenly that changed. He was flipping in a Rock n’Play sleeper while swaddled so I was forced to make a change. I tried moving him to a pack n’ play but it went terribly. I was putting him down in the swing awake and without a pacifier for naps and bedtime. He would sometimes scream loudly but always fell asleep under 10 minutes, until he didn’t. After a few days it was getting harder and harder to settle him down. I was giving sleep cues. Dark room, white noise and a lullaby. Sometimes he cries so much before I even get him in the swing that he can’t hear the lullaby so I let him have the pacifier long enough to hear me and then take it away. Also, when he won’t settle down after 10 minutes I resort to the pacifier, but try to slip it out. Sometimes it works, but the last nap is always a nightmare and I have resorted to giving the pacifier for the entire nap so that he isn’t awake for 4-5 hours between the last nap and his 7:00 bedtime. He almost always takes only 30 minute naps even before the swing.

  42. Hi Alexis (or anyone else who cares to cash-in),

    My LO is 3.5 months old and in the last week or so, I have gradually been able to wean her off rocking and paci (using the pull out method) to fall asleep for bedtime and for naps. But she still falls asleep in my arms before I put her down asleep in her crib. I feel she’s ready to be put down drowsy but awake (she does fall back to sleep on her own during the night with zero intervention on my part; this takes her about 10 mins-I watch her through my video monitor). I have a few questions though as I’m not sure what to expect and I don’t know what I should do if she doesn’t fall asleep.

    1-How long should I expect it to take her to fall asleep?

    2-What should I do if she is clearly not going to fall asleep or starts to cry?

    Thanks, I love your site btw :)

  43. Perhaps this situation has been addressed in the comments above, but I do not have time to read through all of them! Please if anyone read this and have some advice to give I would really appreciate it. My daughter is just under 8 weeks old and very dependent on the pacifier to go to sleep. I know she is young and I do not want to let her cry it out at this age, but I am Not sure what else to do! she is now only taking cat naps during the day and crying whenever her pacifier falls out of her mouth. Putting her to sleep in the evening is an ordeal because she is then an overtired and still screaming for the pacifier after just a few minutes of sleep. We make sure that she is fed and comfortable and has a clean diaper on and then try everything that we can think of, but she does not really fall asleep for good until a couple of hours later. (and I can tell she really is tired, so keeping her up with just me in a cranky baby) In fact she is just now waking up from a 15 minute nap. Please help!

    • Does she sleep in a swing? Swaddle? White noise? Read this post:

      That post saved my life with my firstborn, even though I read it way too late with him, and it has been so very helpful with my second baby. 8 weeks is a good age to start having naps in a dark room, in a swing, with white noise. And definitely swaddle and paci. It’s way too soon to think about taking it away or letting her cry. She is SO very little right now. At this point you want to be giving her as much soothing as humanly possible. Hang in there mama, the first months are hard work but you are doing a great job.

      • She normall sleeps with white noise but hates to be swaddled. We sleep her in the rock n play because she has a strong startle reflex. Thank you for posting the link to the swing information. I was skeptical but tried it today and so far so good! I even moved the swing up to her bedroom. I’m attempting to use the timer feature so that the swing shuts off after a period of time and see if she can do it that way…not needing it to be on all night. She usually fights swaddling but I tried swaddling in the swing after reading the post and she fell asleep that way. With no paci!! Due to breastfeeding issues I am “triple feeding” (breast, bottle and pumping) and it’s tough to be in the middle of pumping and have her screaming because she lost her pacifier. I’m also homeschooling my 8, 5 and 3 year old. Unfortunately they have been fending for themselves quite a bit while I take care of our pacifier dependent non-sleeping baby and do all the extensive feeding/pumping. My husband is also exhausted and dealing with additional work related stress right now, and gets up at night to soothe her and replace the paci while I pump after the night feeding. I would never have considered taking away the paci otherwise. Hopefully this swing technique does the trick so I can set aside sleep troubles for the time being and focus on breastfeeding. Thanks again.

        • Wow, you really have a lot going on! Sounds exhausting–I hope the swing continues to help. My daughter slept in a moving swing all night and for all her naps from about 2-3.5 months, and that worked great for her. Eventually she started to go to sleep better in a non-moving swing and now at 5 months she’s happy in the crib and seems not to want to be in the swing anymore, though the author of this blog says many kids stay in the swing longer than that and it’s totally fine.

          I wish you and your family the best!

  44. So…what about a 5 month old with reflux??? As I understand cio is not recommended with refluxers. And what if pull out/off is not working???

  45. ….and you are swaddling, using white noise and putting baby in swing for naps and bed awake????

  46. So I have read through all the comments and haven’t seen any answers to what I’d like to ask so thought I’d see if anyone has any advice to offer.
    My boy is now a week and a half off being 6 months and is our first baby.
    We are still swaddling his arms and using a soother but I’d like to be done with both but I’m not sure which order to get rid of them in. He’s not rolling yet so I don’t worry about the swaddle as much as the soother. But if I take the swaddle off he will knock out the soother and won’t get off to sleep (mind you I’ve not really tried but I know he won’t get off to sleep in the car because he knocks his soother out so assume it would be the same) He doesn’t suck his thumb but has sucked his fingers in the past so I don’t know whether to leave a hand out when I take the soother so he can settle or whether this would be taking away one of his sleep cues? (Bedtime is feed, bath, PJ’s, sleep sack, book, arm swaddle, music projector and soother and naps are arm swaddle and soother)
    I’d love to hear what anyone else has done and also is it likely to get a lot harder to wean off the soother much past 6 months?

  47. This has been and still a nightmare for me and for my almost 10 months baby. Since he was born jhe had several pbs such as severe reflux and heart burns and cow protein allergy… And on the top of that he is a very light sleeper i always have to use the vaccum clener so he can sleeps or rocking him and so on…. He wakes up more than 30 times every night then at 8 months this minimized to 7 times…till his doctor told us to wean his pacifier cuz it,s affecting his teeth…. And he told us to go “cold turkey”, actually he doesn,t take it that much during the day except for naps and for the night bedtime…. But honestly it has been a month now and since that day he screams for more than 2 hours at night and i mean “earpiercing screaming”… And it,s not getting any better i tried several methods such as holding him rocking him sleeping between me and his dad and even letting him cry in his bed but it,s getting worse and worse and nothing seems to sooth him after he lost it….. And after he fall a sleep he wakes up after 2 hours and don.t sleep again before 2 to three hours….
    Hearing him screaming this long at bed time every single day is torturing me and his daddy we feel hopeless tired and even depressed and nothing seems to work…..

    Any help or tips to share….

  48. Hi! My 3mo old has become a nighttime paci junkie. Crying for it every 15 min from 11-12 and again 430-6am!!

    Last night my hubby and I decided to not reinsert it all night. Tons of crying but he slept more than usual and both times he got himself to sleep within about half an hour (after intense screaming …. And crying from me lol).
    Do I have to take it away completely for him to stop the night wakings? He is a terrible napper and the last week or so will only really fall asleep in my arms or the carrier. I used to put him down awake and sleepy, but that turned into every nap time being play in the crib time…..

    I’m afraid if I take it away for naps he will never sleep during the day – become an over tired monster – not sleep at night…..

    Thoughts?? thanks!!!

  49. I’m about to quit this paci cold turkey, but my worry is that I’ll have to stick s bottle on my 14 week olds mouth to calm her down!! She sleeps 8-11 hours at night, but I don’t sleep…at all!!!! I’m reinserting her paci about 20 times a night. I refuse to move her into her crib because I’m not getting up to do this!! She’s still in a bassinet next to me so I just reach in and replace. But…she’s about to outgrow the bassinet. I won’t have a choice! I don’t want to stick a bottle in her mouth after she’s stopped feeding at night since week 6. Letting her cry it out is almost impossible since my husband works at 4am (wakes at 2:45am. Don’t know what to do!!!!)

  50. I’m about to quit this paci cold turkey, but my worry is that I’ll have to stick a bottle in my 14 week olds mouth to calm her down!!

    She sleeps 8-11 hours at night, but I don’t sleep…at all!!!! I’m reinserting her paci about 20 times a night.

    I refuse to move her into her crib because I’m not getting up to do this!! She’s still in a bassinet next to me so I just reach in and replace. But…she’s about to outgrow the bassinet. I won’t have a choice!

    I don’t want to stick a bottle in her mouth after she’s stopped feeding at night since week 6. Letting her cry it out is almost impossible since my husband works at 4am (wakes at 2:45am.)

    Don’t know what to do!!!!


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