Why is it important to wean from the pacifier?
Sucking is a natural action for babies and provides contentment. Babies and children will often choose to suck their thumb if no pacifier is provided. Weaning from a pacifier is often easier than weaning a child from sucking their thumb, making most dental professionals in favor of pacifier use. Weaning from the pacifier should take place between ages 2 and 4. If a child has not stopped sucking on the pacifier by this point it can affect the development of the shape of the mouth. Possible effects are overbite, malformed jaw bones, and crooked teeth.
How can the daycare help?
Children spend a large majority of their time in childcare so it is important that the childcare provider is on board with the pacifier weaning. Childcare providers can also offer tips to parents who are having trouble weaning their children from the pacifier. Here are some proven options:
- Give the pacifier away as a gift. Wrap it up, write a note and gift it to a new baby (or leave it at the doctor’s office and ask them to throw it out when you leave). The new baby, of course, will not actually use the gifted pacifier, but it is a way for the child to pass on the item that they care about to a younger child.
- Trade it for a gift. The child can leave the pacifier under their pillow and the “pacifier fairy” takes it and replaces it with a gift they’ve been wanting. Santa, the Easter Bunny and other characters can also be used.
- Remove it gradually. Start by limiting the pacifier to naps and bedtime and gradually reduce these as well until they no longer get the pacifier at all. If the child needs some extra comfort during these times, try introducing a stuffed animal or comfort blanket.