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.

If 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. I don’t have a paci story, as my little one wouldn’t take to it (he decided it was a chew toy rather than a sucking toy).

    However, this article could have been written about the swing. I know you tout the swing as one of the best tools out there, but I’ve often wanted to throw that stupid machine out the window, especially while trying to wean. My baby was motion-addicted from the time we introduced it at 2 months to just two weeks ago when we finally used CIO to get rid of the association, just after 6 months. FINALLY he doesn’t wake up any more often than he did in the swing (and even starting to wake up less often), nor does he cry at bed time usually, but he still complains LOUDLY about naps in day care when they put him down in the crib. He’s taken to falling asleep in the vibrating infant seats they feed him in, obviously because it’s the shape of his beloved swing (and because he likes to sleep on a full stomach).

    Like the paci, Dr. Karp suggests that EVERY infant is easily weaned from the swing by 5 months (NOT!). Ferber and Weissbluth also suggest CIO to wean. I can also equate the Pull Out Method with the suggested gentle weaning technique of turning the swing down lower and lower until you turn it off, which DID NOT work for our baby. He just cried if the swing wasn’t going fast enough. We’d go down one notch, only to go back up one or two notches on a particularly difficult nap time to avoid crying, and then no lower setting was good enough all of a sudden.

    Apologies for the long post, but I’ve been itching to tell you my story for awhile now. I relied heavily on your blog to get me through the first 6 months, and I think for the sanity of your readers, you need to state the caveat that swing weaning isn’t always so easy, depending on the temperament of your baby.

    So, how’s that swing-weaning post coming along, btw? 😀

    • I haven’t done any surveys to back this up so this is just anecdotal but if I had to guess, a pretty significant percentage of paci-loving babies will evolve into “up all night so Mom/Dad can reinsert the paci” babies who will eventually be forced to LOOSE their paci so Mom/Dad can quit the reinsertion business. Like 60% of babies who use pacifiers? Definitely more than half.

      The percentage of swing loving babies who will gradually and relatively easily be weaned off the swing? 95%.

      So I would say that with ANYTHING there is the risk that your “gentle weaning” plan will not be as gentle as hoped. But I do feel pretty confident that in the vast majority of cases, getting baby out of the swing is a pretty drama-free path.

      And for probably 99% of babies, FAR more drama-free than most alternatives (unwilling co-sleeping, chronic sleep deprivation, using Mom as human pacifier). So I stand by my love of swings and will use my totally-made-up-but-probably-true statistics to back it up!

  2. My baby never has taken a paci. And I’ve single-handedly kept the industry afloat during this recession buying every make and model of pacifier out there. :( Now at 7 months she plays with them, but usually puts the wrong end in her mouth anyway.She’s also not a great napper, which is probably no surprise that I’m here reading this blog! She’s also currently on a swing boycott and Queen of the 30 minute naps. Sigh.

    Interesting post though…maybe my next baby!

    • My secret super power is that I can get any baby sleeping in the swing. Not so much with the paci. You try the Karp “paci stealing” move, buy every paci at the store, and they just WON’T.

      Unless they love pacis in which case it’s generally not that hard to get them to take them 😉

  3. We instituted a paci-only-for-sleep policy at about 4 months and it worked great. I was actually surprised it worked so well- she was very dependant on it for soothing. We also played at practicing putting it back in her mouth and made the crib a ball pit of binkies. At 5 months we started the paci shuffle and I thought we would have to take it away (probably with crying), but by 5.5 months she handled it. Sometimes we hear her wake up and shuffle around to find her binky, but she doesn’t fuss for us to do it for her.
    Little Miss is 7 months now and a rockstar sleeper. Being able to keep the binky made teaching her to put herself to sleep a lot smoother.

    • “ball pit of binkies”

      I’m SOOO stealing that.

      So did she figure out how to find & reinsert the pacis by herself? Or did you simply blanket the crib with so many pacis that the simple process of rolling over would result in a paci falling into her mouth?


      • “Ball pit” may have been a bit of hyperbole…there were usually 4 in the crib. We totally lucked out- she has excellent fine motor skills for her age (she has been doing the pointer-thumb move to feed herself since 5 mo). Before she was super mobile we would go in after she was asleep and make sure they were all within reach. Now that she’s almost crawling she can find them no problem (there is a nightlight). We just make sure the extras are always in the same corner. As soon as you put her in the crib she lunges for that binky corner :)

        • We do the same thing, Paige, and our baby also finds her own pacifier in the middle of the night and replaces it herself. It works a lot better for us than no pacifier. I’m going to just go with it.

          My first baby sucked his fingers, which are always available and attached, but that’s now a problem – they’re ALWAYS AVAILABLE AND ATTACHED and at age 3, the dentist can tell he’s a finger-sucker. I hear we need to try to stop him by age 4, but I don’t see it happening. So I think pacis are great; you can take them away when the kid is old enough to soothe him/herself.

          We also only use the paci at bedtime, which the baby is amenable to. She’s 9 months and up once per night…somewhere in the range of 2-5 am. Though I’m thinking it’s about time to only respond after 4 am (after a 6 or 6:30 pm bedtime).

      • I just wanted to share that I LOVE this solution as well. I wish more parents would try it before determining that they have to give up the paci. I think it can be such a helpful tool for sleep training. I like that I can leave them with something that is truly soothing and they have control of it. I did a good bit of paci re-insertion when my two were still swaddled (months 4-5 were pretty rough), but around 6 months they were both ready to unswaddle, drop night feedings and learn to get back to sleep at night unassisted. I literally had 10 pacis in my daughter’s crib at one point. My son is more of a roller so he only needs 4 or 5, but he can always find one and get it back in. (Cost was about $25 for her and $15 for him–TOTALLY worth it to me!) We practiced during the daytime when he was playing on the floor. And as soon as he started putting toys in his mouth, I would try to put the paci in his hand, instead of his mouth, so he could learn to turn it the right way and get it in. My daughter kept her paci till 2 and gave it up without so much as a peep of protest (talked it up and traded for a pillow pal and a new quilt from grandma). Hope it will go as smoothly for my son. Thanks for letting me share what worked for us!

  4. We recently used the cold turkey method to get rid if my son’s pacifier obsession. He’s 26 months and loved to suck. I got tired of telling him to take it out when he talked and just felt like it would be easier to wean him sooner than later. He has a blankie and lovey, so those comforts have helped. I don’t think he sleeps as deep. Naptime was really rough for a few days, not because he asked for the paci, but because he wouldn’t settle down and relax. He only asked for the pacifier a few times, but I would remind him that Curious George, Daniel Tiger, and Caillou do not use pacifiers. It seemed to make sense to him.

    I would much rather have a paci addict than a thumb/finger sucker. I have a feeling that my 4 month old is going to be a finger sucker eventhough I’ve been pushing the paci.

    Thanks for the good info!

    • All the dental studies show that the thumb mucks up their teeth far worse than pacis do. And it’s a lot harder to get rid of because YOU can’t simply toss them out. On the other hand, they don’t wake up screaming for you to reinsert the thumb for you. So while you’ll have to start saving for thumb-sucking induces orthodontia, you’ll sleep better when she’s a baby. Yay?

  5. I’m so excited to see this post. My mother came to visit when baby was two weeks old, and introduced the pacifier when I had gone out for groceries. That was six months ago, and although I’m grateful for it when it comes to soothing baby in the car (I can reach his seat from the front, and have gotten pretty good at the blind-fumble-and-reinsert-while-driving)and helping my husband keep him calm in the early years, I’ve wondered whether (as Gob Bluth put it) I’ve made a huge mistake.

    Anyway, we use it for naps and bedtime, and throughout the night, especially when I’m trying to deal with night-wakings without feeding. He hasn’t learned to put it back yet once it’s completely fallen out, but I don’t have to run in and re-insert every sleep-cycle.

    During the four-month sleep regression, baby learned to protest *through* his pacifier, which I thought was a pretty good trick. We didn’t fully recover from that regression until close to six months, using a “fuss it out” method. Putting the pacifier back during checks was a good way to help him calm down, but he has sometimes cried a litle longer before falling asleep.

    Anyway, right now it’s helpful and I shudder at the thought of weaning, but it doesn’t seem to be critical or problematic, so I’ve procrastinated.

    I’m really looking forward to reading other stories so I can plan appropriately if baby doesn’t learn the reinsert-trick in the next month or two.

    • 1) Anybody who quotes Arrested Development is MORE than welcome to come sit by me :)

      2) If he’s pretty chill about the paci, you could try Paige’s technique of creating the paci ball pit. Some babies are more relaxed about finding and replacing their own. It’s up to you if it’s worth spending the $$ to create your own ball bit to try it out. No harm no foul (except for the money you spend on pacis).

      Or, if it’s not an issue, maybe it won’t be. Except that it probably will be. But I don’t want to say that since things are good now so just forget I said that. OK?

  6. Omg – my three month old is addicted to her paci. She cries for it every hour or so at night when it falls out, she also won’t nap, or ride in the stroller or car, without it. How early is too early to remove it? She was sleeping nine hours at night until two weeks ago. I’m going insane!

    • Well it could be a few things. I’m wondering if this isn’t an early sleep regression?

      I wouldn’t necessarily ditch the paci for car rides or stroller rides. If paci+car=no screaming then YAY!

      What other soothing are you giving her when she sleeps? Still using a tight swaddle and loud white noise? This REALLY is the key. If the paci is her only source of soothing then I wouldn’t suggest you take it away from a 3 month old. However if she’s got lots of sources of soothing then maybe yes, loosing the paci is the way to go. You just don’t want to leave her empty handed, right?

      • Hi,

        She has a sound machine, and we have a nightly routine. We ditched the swaddled by she would wake up struggling against it. It’s been about ten days and she has been up 2 to 3 times a night, which is an improvement. We did ditch the paci in the car bc my doctor thought it would be better?

        • Alexis – please help! A month later and things are worse. She’s almost 4 months, and we still swaddle but she breaks out of it. She’s been up 12 or so times a night for the paci. We tried to take paci and swaddle away but after 10 nights things hadn’t changed so we gave it back to her. But I have to get more sleep or I will seriously die!

          • After trying almost every swaddle on the market, I bought one of these..


            They are an Australian Stockist, but they are amazing. They can’t move as much which may help the pacifier stay in their mouth. Worked wonders with my little demon.

          • Hey Colleen – wondering whatever happened with this? I fear I am heading towards a similar situation with my almost 4 month old. Would love to hear how things went for you! Hope it turned out well!

            • No, she’s still up all the time? We ditched the paci at night but use it in the car and for naps so I don’t go nuts!

            • Hi, how are things for you? Our 6 mo has nights where she is up all night and nights when she sleeps, but we have ditched the paci and swaddle for good.

          • You could also try a sleep sack with the velcro. I use one of those for my 6 month old but we don’t swaddle her arms in but she still gets the “closeness” because it is wrapped under her armpits and around her body

            • Allyson, I also use the sleep sack with velcro since my baby girl has been fighting swaddling since she was about 3 months. Instead of helping her sleep, she was up in the middle of the night fighting to get her arms out of it. I finally decided to purchase one with the velcro and I wrap it under her armpits so she still feels the closeness.

  7. As first time parents, we resorted to the pacifier when our baby started really crying a lot at 2 weeks of age. It wasn’t something we had planned on, but friends had given us new unused pacifiers just in case and after a big bout of crying, my mother helpfully suggested trying the pacifier. What a mistake..

    The pacifier worked well, but looking back on it we’d say too well. By the time baby was 4 months old, my husband and I were absolute pros at getting up the second baby stirred in the middle of night, to replace the missing pacifier in an attempt to keep baby from fully waking.

    This continued for months and when many of our friends started reporting their babies sleeping through the night, we were still up at least 5-7 times each night to replace the pacifier which fell out. Eventually, we had it and decided something had to be done. After a good root around the Internet, it seemed there was no real ‘weaning’ method to rid a baby of the pacifier so it was decided cold turkey would be the way.

    We picked a Friday evening to start, knowing it would be several nights of hell and little sleep. The first night was horrific – our son cried for about 2 hours straight when it was bedtime, because he couldn’t fathom why we were trying to put him to sleep without his pacifier. Though we had many bedtime cues still in place, it would seem the pacifier was still a big one for him and so we took turns comforting and carrying him whilst he bawled his eyes out. I was surprised he didn’t end up puking with all the crying he did. IN the end, it was closer to 3 hours past his bedtime before he finally fell asleep out of exhaustion. But when he did sleep, he slept for a good number of hours and when he woke, it took only a short amount of comforting before he went back to sleep.

    Night #2 was a shorter repeat of Night #1 – still cried, but it wasn’t continuous and not for as long. He basically cried in bursts (more like tantrum crying) but then would give in every 10 minutes or so and stay quiet for a while before giving it another go. We had to put up with maybe 1 hour of crying this way before he gave in and went to sleep. I don’t recall exactly but I don’t think he woke in the middle of the night.

    Night #3 was a marked improvement on Night #2, with almost no crying and before we knew it, he’d happily gone to sleep. From then on, we noticed he slept a lot better with significantly less wakings. I wouldn’t lie and say he then instantly slept through the night from then on but he certainly didn’t wake as much, and started learning how to put himself back to sleep if he did wake.

    By the middle of the week following that harrowing weekend of crying, my husband and I were positive that quitting the pacifier was the best thing could have done for the baby (and ourselves). Should have done it earlier is all we could keep saying to each other!

    • My husband and I are starting tonight to try and implement what you did. We are getting up sometimes 20 times a night to put the pacifier back in our 4 1/2 months old mouth so he will go back to sleep. We just cannot keep doing this. We are utterly exhausted. I am nervous about how tonight will go because I am a big softy. It breaks my heart to hear my little one cry. But I know that if he learns to self soothe, we all will be much happier and better rested. Here goes nothing!

      • So last night we did It to wean him off the paci, and it was amazing! It was the best night sleep any of us have gotten since he was born. He cried for about 12 minutes when we put him down. We checked on him every three minutes and then every five minutes. He woke up around 9:45 and cried for about an hour. My husband did this one, and just put headphones on downstairs and did checks every 7 to 10 minutes. Then he slept until 4:45 when it was time to eat. I fed him and put him right back down. He let out one soft cry and then slept until 8 o’clock this morning. He was happy as a clam and all smiles when I got him out of the crib.

        We were very hesitant to let him cry it out, because as a two and three-month-old he regularly cried for 5 to 8 hours a day. That was even with swaddling, swinging, rocking, you name it. He is a sensitive and fussy little baby. But I learned that that does not mean he is not capable of putting himself to sleep!

        • WOO HOO!

          Are you still using other forms of soothing (swinging, swaddle, white noise, etc.)? I ask because if SO it would validate my theory that if you give lots of soothing options, the loss of paci will go relatively smoothly. Thoughts?

        • I am in the same boat with my 4.5 month old…is your little one still sleeping well without it? I think I am going to have to try out your method while my husband is out of town because he cannot stand to hear her cry and always gives in to give her the paci.

        • I am in the same boat with my 4.5 month old…is your little one still sleeping well without it? I think I am going to have to try out your method while my husband is out of town because he cannot stand to hear her cry and always gives in to give her the paci.

    • J Low,
      Can I just say I think you are gorgeous and I love your music videos!:P

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. Yes it was an unusually rough road. But that’s what makes it SO great that you shared. So other people will know it’s not just them. That it does get better. That it’s not forever.

      I hear you when you say you wished you would never have started in the first place. But it’s so hard to say. You had a newborn baby screaming and unsoothed in your arms. You put in a paci and the screaming stopped. How much crying/screaming did the paci avoid in those early days? I’m going to guess that it’s more than resulted in the end. So in my head anyway, the paci was a net plus. Hopefully?

      • I love this comment of yours and think about it often when I replace the paci at night 😉 But seriously, in an ideal world baby wouldn’t need any help falling asleep but, alas, it is not so. And it helps so much to think about it in terms of how many tears were saved thanks to the paci. Also, I have a friend whose baby will not take the paci and requires the boob. So I figure I am better off fumbling around the crib feeling for the paci and plugging it in (takes 10 seconds) than having to co-sleep and nurse the baby for 2 minutes every hour.

  8. We gave our little one a pacifer from the start and it was mostly used for sleeping. At about 5 months she started waking ever 45 mins to be replugged. At that point we decided to take it away at night instead of teaching her how to replug. It took a few nights of extra soothing to get her used to it but after that she was good and began sleeping for longer periods.
    We do however still use it for nap time and if she needs extra comforting. She is now 9months old and this has been working well for us. I tried to take it away at nap time the same time we did at night but it was causing shorter naps and which was causing overtired for bedtime. So I gave in during naptime and let her have it. She did not look for the pacifer at night and then her nap times were again extended.
    Alexis do you think that I should now try and take it away at naptime? It was only after reading your blog that we realized what was happening with the pacifer at night and waking ever 45mins to be replugged and really appreciated all the help you gave. I am not sure we could have got through that time without the advice you had on your blog!
    I am just wondering now if we should just leave her with naptime and pacifer and bedtime no pacifer?
    thanks so much

    • Is she taking long chunky naps or is she waking up after 45 minute naps because the paci fell out?

      The paci is not in itself evil. So if she’s napping fine then there is no pressing need to get rid of it. The REAL reason to ditch the paci is if its preventing her from taking longer consolidated naps. Or because baby is 2+ and your dentist and giving you the hairy eyeball.

  9. Thanks for your blog Alexis!

  10. Ooops…I pressed submit before my comment.

    After reading Babywise, Happy Baby Healthy Sleep, The Baby Whisperer, and the Happiest Baby on the Block, I understand that sleep is vital for healthy development. However it’s so easy to get confused because the philosophies contradict each other!

    I have an 11 week old that uses a pacifier for naps. For about 3 weeks, I have had a consistent nap routine (swaddle, rock for 3-5 min depending on how stimulated she was before nap, pacifier, put down in crib). With this routine, my daughter goes to sleep fine and is rarely asleep when put into the crib.

    However, when the 45 minute sleep cycle is over, she starts kicking, rolls her head from side to side, whimpers, then starts crying. After 5-10 min maximum, I go in and replace the pacifier. Sometimes I only go in once, other times I go in 3 times. I’ve been going in to try to extend the naps to 1 hour and 30 minutes because I’m so afraid of her being over tired.

    Is the pacifier too much of a prop? Because I am going in to replace the pacifier, am I inhibiting her ability to sleep longer?

    At night, our bedtime routine is nurse, bath, rock, pacifier, and then in her crib around 7pm. I do a dream feed at 8:30pm and 10:30 pm (with bottle of breast milk). She then awakes to be fed anywhere from 3-5am. I never replace the pacifier at night, it is just given when she first goes to sleep. Should I discontinue this too?

    She’s approaching 3 months and I’m nervous that I may have started a bad habit.

    Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated!

    • I wouldn’t say you have a bad habit. MOST newborns are struggling to sleep longer than 45 minutes at naptime. And MOST will wake up even though they still seem super tired. So this could be happening regardless.

      At 11 weeks she won’t remember the pacifier was IN her mouth so if she’s waking up, it’s not because it fell out per se. It’s because she needs the extra soothing of sucking TO sleep. Does that make sense?

      Anyhoo you could test this theory by helping her fall asleep without it and see if she organically takes 1.5 hour naps. But I suspect she won’t. I suspect the problem is less the paci and more this:

  11. I’m so jealous when I hear about babies using pacifiers! My girl is 3 months and started refusing any pacifier at around 6 weeks, I don’t know why. Every so often, we try to get her to take one again, but it’s as though she has “reverse” nipple confusion and has no idea how to suck on them. She just rolls her tongue around them. I can’t even successfully try Dr. Karp’s trick of pretending to remove it when the baby starts to suck it because she never starts to suck it! Ah, well…

  12. For once I have a success story and not a “Sleep is driving us crazy, please help us, Alexis” comment! (By the way, I can’t thank you enough for always responding to those…) We did FIO at about 4.5 months, but let her keep the paci because she usually ended up spitting it out before she fell asleep anyway. She started falling asleep on her own, and by 6 months, she was taking consistently long naps and sleeping for longer stretches at night. Suddenly, a couple weeks ago, she started having all these random 45 minute naps. Grrr. I was convinced it was good old object permanence and the paci, so we decided to go cold turkey. She mildly protested for about 20 minutes the first night we put her down without it, and the same for her first day of naps. She’s been fine without it since! And…. Her naps have gone back to normal! (I love that normal is now 90-120 minutes. For months it seemed like it would always be 30-45…)

    • Wow, I am impressed. And jealous. Good work!

    • That IS good work! And look at all the great things you did….

      – Made “falling asleep alone” a priority.
      – Didn’t freak out when naps mysteriously got short. Instead played Parent Detective to suss out WHY they got short.
      – Successfully diagnosed sleep problem, made reasonable adjustments.
      – Were rewarded with the happy return of long naps!

      This is a great case-study, thanks for sharing!

  13. Now we need one about thumb suckers!!! our 8 month old never took a paci, but at around 3 months started sucking her thumb. I even tried to take her thumb out and put a paci in and she would just spit it out. she only sucks her thumb when she is tired, and doesn’t suck it when shes sleeping just when shes falling asleep. she is a great napper with most being an hour and sometimes 2 hours. She sleeps all night,going to bed around 7 and wakes up a 6am to eat then is back asleep till 7 or 8 and she goes down awake and falls asleep on her own.
    I was really sad when she started thumb sucking because of all the hipe about teeth problems etc, but wasn’t sure what to do about it, and it helps her fall asleep.
    when should i try and break her of it. and the big ? is HOW!!!!!!????

    • I wouldn’t blink an eye about your 8 month old sucking her thumb. It sounds like she is a sleeping CHAMPION – YAY! It sounds like she’s found a way to keep herself happy – YAY! It’s totally normal and natural to enjoy sucking on one’s thumb – YAY!

      Yes LITERALLY years from now you’ll need to break the habit of thumb sucking. And really even that is only if she’s sucking CONSTANTLY, which she won’t be because by the time she’s 3-4 years old she’ll be too busy climbing on trees so her hands will no longer be available.

      So she sucks her thumb for a few minutes a day. Who cares? Honestly! This is ALL great stuff. All.

    • I’m not a parent, but know a fair bit about stopping thumb-sucking, from the other end.
      I never had a paci (or dummy, as we Brits call them), and sucked my thumb from the word go. I had to break the habit 3 times, because I would end up starting again.

      I’d say, don’t bother about it at all until she’s at least 3, or even later. The possible teeth issues won’t start until her permanent teeth start to come through. And if you hear anything about thumb-sucking being a hygiene issue, ignore it – if anything, she’ll be healthier, since we’re always hearing about how modern kids have loads of allergies and poor immune systems due to *not* eating dirt. In anecdotal evidence, I was the only thumb-sucker out of my family, and I’ve always been the healthiest. At any rate, it’s certainly a normal thing for babies to do, since some do it even before birth!

      The most likely outcome is that by the time it could be a problem, she’ll have outgrown the habit, Most kids stop thumb-sucking of their own accord.

      The potential issues with teeth in the future are very far from a given, even if she keeps sucking well after her permanent teeth start to come in. I’ve seen statistics that only 40% of people who suck their thumbs *all the way to adulthood* needed braces, and of course some would have needed them anyway. It seems likely that it’s related to how much and how hard you suck. And even if your daughter is going to have issues, she won’t develop buck-teeth overnight. There’ll be warning.

      If you do get past toddler-hood and she’s still sucking her thumb, I would say, based on my own experience, that the best thing is not to try and force her to stop but to convince her to decide to give it up. Explain to her why it would be better not to suck her thumb any more.

      A word of warning, though: when I was about 5 or 6, my parents told me that thumb-sucking would damage my teeth, but didn’t explain any more than that, and I was left terrified that it might already be happening. Better to show her what normal and ‘thumb-sucker’s’ teeth look like. Plenty of pictures online.

      And warning her that other children might tease her might also help get her on board with giving it up. Then it’ll be a case of helping her remember not suck her thumb until she’s broken the habit. Putting a bandage or plaster on her thumb is a good one. That’s way in the future, of course.

      • thank you both. I’m not worried about it but was wondering what you thought. Alexis thank you so much for all that you do. you have helped us so much, i tell everyone about your blog :)

  14. Thanks for your blog, it’s helped us stay sane since our LO was born! She’s just gone 5 months now though and we’re not sure where to go from here. She went through the 4 month sleep regression where she woke every hour and has been sleeping ok again for the last week. She goes to bed around 8 or 9. For the last couple of months we’ve been down to one night feed at about 3 or 4 am. But since the 4 month regression she now often wakes randomly at midnight, or 1 or 2am, then at about 6am. We give her the paci and she goes back to sleep. Then she’s up for the day at 7 or 8. The last few days she’s also taken to fighting naps for ages. I’ve gone back to rocking her in the pram for a whole half hour to get her to sleep! he’s not overtired I think because I put her down within 2 hours. She’s always had naps in her pram (not moving) which we use as a bed. At night she sleeps in her swing. She’s swaddled and we have white noise. She gets her paci for naps but not at bedtime usually unless we’re desperate.

    We’ve tried to wean the swaddle but it’s hopeless. She really fights having it put on now but without it she just waves her arms round. feels the side of the pram and takes her paci in and out then can’t get it back in. We’ve tried weaning the paci but she can’t nap without it and we don’t know what to do at the night wakings without it. The swing has been a lifesaver but now the motor has died. We need to wean her off it anyway as she must be getting close to the weight limit. Plus we don’t have a swing to use at our parents houses when we travel. And we need to move her out of her pram soon as she’s getting too big for it. We live in a one-bed apartment and my partner does most of the night shifts (I know lucky me!!), so we put her to bed in our bedroom in the swing and the move her at 11 or 12 into the living room where he sleeps with her overnight. She rarely wakes up when we move her but I guess we can’t keep that up when she develops object permanence. Or maybe she already has?

    I just don’t know where to start with weaning her off anything, including her night feed. Should I invest in a Graco swing for her and just accept that travel will be a problem? She does love motion when all else fails – hence the pram-pushing for naps – she even wakes up when I stop after 20 minutes of it!! Please help!

    • Elaine,
      Here’s my 2 cents…

      – So she’s not done with the swaddle. GREAT! Lots of babies still need to be swaddled until 6, 8, or even 10 months. I don’t know where this myth of “I need to get my baby out of the swaddle” came from but it’s ridiculous. Don’t sweat the swaddle. She needs it, so swaddle that baby.

      – If the motor is busted, does that mean she is sleeping in a non-moving swing at night? If the answer is YES then I think she’s probably all set to transition to the crib for night sleep. Loud white noise, swaddle, crib, and possibly the paci (on rough days).

      Although I doubt she’s outgrowing the swing as Graco has a weight limit of 30 lbs which she can’t possibly be hitting at 5 months right?

      – At 5 months it is probably time to get her out of the pram. Honestly I don’t know why you sit there and push the pram for 20 minutes when you had a functioning swing right there. But now you no longer HAVE a functioning swing so maybe it’s time to bite the bullet and work on napping in a crib? Actually I could argue either way (crib OR swing for naps). But if you don’t have $130 lying around for a new Graco you could totally work on the crib.

      I would try extending the window just a little bit (maybe 2 hours 20 minutes?) swaddle her, LOUD white noise, DARK room, and put her in the crib. If she doesn’t settle on her own relatively quickly I would jiggle the crib myself so that she gets a bit of the motion she loves but IN the crib. Once that was working for me, I would gradually wean off how much crib jiggling it takes to help her get down.

      It’s a gradual process so your FIRST piece of homework would be to get her napping comfortably in the crib. I would also consider a little FIO – what happens if you leave her alone for 10 minutes? 15 minutes?

      As for the feeding, at 5 months I wouldn’t really sweat it. You have a GREAT overnight sleep thing going. I know getting up at 4:00 AM is rough but the alternative is probably having her wake up earlier in the day. I would however try to wean off the paci or at minimum get out of the middle of the night reinsertions. I’m wondering if loud white noise might not take care of that for you?

      • Thanks Alexis! Yes she’s been sleeping in the non-moving swing. My only worry about the swaddle is that once we move her to the crib she might roll over in it. She’s super strong and can roll over both ways. Hasn’t done it in her swaddle yet though. I guess leaving her in the busted non-moving swing for night sleep would solve that worry?

        I could put her in the crib for naps to get her used to it as I can keep an eye on her during naps in case she rolls. Is it possible to keep the paci just for naps do you think as she’s much harder to get to sleep for naps without it?

        Don’t worry I’ve only been doing the pram pushing since the swing motor finally packed it in last week! It’s a Fisher Price swing that’s broken so the weight limit is 20 lbs I think. Must get her weighed and find out how close we are I guess. Have tried putting her down for nap after 1.5 hours and she’s going down great now! Weirdly enough 2 hours is just too long for the little sleepyhead I think. Also, she’s gone to bed the last 2 nights without her paci and we’ve had only one extra waking each night and we know what caused those so yay!!

  15. First off, thanks for maintaining this blog – the advice and tone here are a lot more practical and sanity-saving than on so many others.

    Have you seen anyone have success with situational paci use at night? My wife and I decided, after two weeks of 4-month sleep regression madness (frequent wakings to replace the pacifier that led to us panicking and adding a night feeding just so she’d stay asleep), to implement some Ferber on our daughter.

    First, we took his advice on eliminating night feedings, and it worked like a charm. She bumped up her daytime feedings perfectly. A week later, we went after the pacifier. Had an epic 2 1/2-hour cry-it-out session the first night, but, about two weeks later, she settles pretty quickly without it for both sleep and naps at five months.

    But here’s the problem: she still has major wakeful periods usually between midnight and 4 a.m. There are usually two of them, one is usually at least 45 minutes (sometimes as long as 2 hours), and one shorter. They’re completely unpredictable in terms of timing and duration, and she usually (but not always) wakes up in a good mood, but then gets extremely angry when she can’t settle. We’ve been trying to continue with the progressive waiting method, but, as my wife commented last night, with these long wakeful periods, we’re actually sleeping just as poorly, if not worse, than when we were replacing the pacifier 10-12 times a night.

    We’ve tried shifting her sleep schedule from 7 p.m.-7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.-7 a.m., but it hasn’t made a difference. We don’t think we can hold her off until 8, because she doesn’t nap well in the late afternoon, and she’s usually already falling apart by 6.

    So last night, after a 1 1/2 hour wakeful period that started at around 3 a.m., we gave her the pacifier, she settled immediately, and we never had to replace it. Our thinking is that we’re going to continue to settle her initially without the pacifier, but we’ll continue to use it for these early morning wakeful periods, since we hear some kids simply can’t sleep through the night until 6 months or later. Are we asking for trouble with this plan? Are there any other alternatives you can think of? Reswaddling her doesn’t seem to do the trick, and PU/PD just makes her more annoyed.

    • Dave,

      I’m guessing that the middle of the night thing you’ve got going on is due to her desire to enjoy your company. This is actually pretty common as babies get older. Once they’ve had a solid 5-6 hour chunk of sleep they rouse themselves because they would much rather hang with you than sleep. Now they’re wide awake for 2-3 hours in the middle of the night and EVERYBODY is unhappy about this.

      The key to get over this bump is to help her get back to sleep with as little intervention from you as possible. Because you going in to diddle around, of course just reinforces the reason she’s waking herself up to begin with – her desire to hang with you.

      So if the paci helps her fall back asleep with almost no intervention and everybody avoids the dreaded 3 hour “party” in the middle of the night, I think it’s OK.

      I would be mindful that hopefully this is a temporary fix. If you see signs of sliding back into becoming a professional pacifier reinsertion expert, it’s time to stop again. Maybe you do this for a week or 2 and then try to wean off the paci. If she continues to wake at 2:00 AM, don’t go in for 10 minutes. See what happens.

      Because I’m guessing that the “night party” phase, is just that, a phase. And in a few weeks she’ll hopefully be done with it (and the paci).

      Good luck!

  16. Hi Alexis, I love your website and keep coming back to it time and again. We’ve got a 13 week old baby, she’s not a bad sleeper I’d say but sometimes I feel like I’m stabbing in the dark with what we’re doing with her sleep – we broke the boob /sleep association early as she’s got reflux (but not bad reflux – she’s not currently on meds and it generally doesn’t wake her at night although wind often does) and I’ve got to really make an effort to wind her after a feed and hold her upright for ages, which normally wakes her up. We use a pacifier for pain and for sleep only – she had colic til 6 weeks – what a lifesaver the dummy was! She usually goes down well (in her crib) for her first nap, often with a pacifier, then things get progressively more difficult for naps during the day. She rarely naps for more than 40 minutes. Her last nap (around 6pm) is usually in the swing. She’s been really unsettled for a week (since her vaccinations) so recently I’ve been letting her fall asleep on the boob around 9-10pm. The last couple of days she’s been up more than usual in the night – around 2.30am and again at 6am.
    My question really is pacifier related – she gets kind of frantic but not outright crying in the crib when I put her down for naps, and she’ll take the dummy but keep spitting it out after a few minutes (this is before she goes to sleep). This often goes on for 45 minutes or so. Sometimes I give up and get her up again before she has gone to sleep, because I’m so frustrated. Oh, and I pretty religiously follow the not letting her go too long between naps from your baby sleep chart!
    Should I give up on using the pacifier? She doesn’t wake up crying for it in the night (yet – I’m aware this is a future danger). I don’t know what else to do for getting her to sleep but I’m aware that it might not really be working well. The swing is great for the late nap but I don’t want to get too dependent on it as it’s not practical for all naps especially nighttime as we would never be able to fit it in our bedroom! Thanks very much for all your wonderful advice :)

    • Emma,

      Well I’m really glad her reflux is mild, but whenever somebody says “reflux” a reflexively answer – PUT THAT BABY IN A SWING!

      There is no problem with her napping in the swing and sleeping in the crib at night. Plus it sounds like you’re nights are fantastic (seriously – 2 night feeds at this age is pretty great even though they’re a huge hassle with the gas and holding upright part).

      But given that you’re having a hard time with naps AND she’s got reflux, I would definitely put her in the swing. Refluxing babies are notoriously crappy nappers because the heartburn is just enough to make them not nap well. They often, however, sleep well at night because they’re SOOO tired from the crap naps all day.

      The other thing that could be tripping you up is the 4 month sleep regression:

      Also I hope you’re also swaddling and using LOUD white noise? Those are the key foundation to everything else you’re doing. So if you’re NOT using those things, I would start with the swaddle and white noise (even if you think she hates the swaddle) and see where that gets you. If the answer is, “Nowhere” then I would start using the swing for naps and crib at night.

      Good luck!

      • Thanks Alexis, you’re a superstar for taking the time to answer all these desperate parents’ questions! I’ve had her in the swing for a while this evening and even though it didn’t send her to sleep it seems to have chilled her out to the point where she’s happily cooing in bed right now… Will take that all on board and try more swing naps :)

  17. Hi Alexis,

    This is a very timely post for my situation! I have a 3.5 month old who I am considering pacifier weaning but not sure if it is worth it/needed.

    My baby has never been a huge fan of the paci. He never wants it unless he is sleepy (no non nap or bedtime use) and usually just uses it to calm down and then almost always spits it out before going to sleep. If I took it away now it isn’t like he’d really “miss” it as I usually am the one who is pushing it on him a little. However, he usually isn’t able to calm down enough to fall asleep without it. I always try putting him down without it first and then try to give it to him if he isn’t able to calm down without it. This is most of the time. He probably uses it 3 out of 4 times he goes to sleep. Our ratio seems to be slowly improving though. Other than using the paci, he has wanted to be put down fully awake since a month old. I can also rock him mostly to sleep and then put him down and would probably have to do a lot more of this without the paci.

    So, since we are fast approaching that 4 month mark do you think I should get rid of the paci now before he possibly develops more of an attachment to it? Or, does it sound like he’s probably ok using it as needed as he isn’t that into it/mostly spits it out before sleeping to object permanence probably won’t be an issue.

    We have no extra health/SIDS prevention reasons to keep it.


    • Hey Jenny,

      Well I think I could argue either side on this one. But since you’re working on using it less and making progress gently reducing your paci use, I don’t really see a compelling reason to just STOP right now.

      So if it’s worrying you, you could ditch the paci now. But it sounds like things are going great, he’ll gradually us it less over time, and probably in a month or so will organically be all done, no?

      Good luck!

  18. So quick question. The only time I really use a paci is at nap times. Never bedtime. I have to do everything to get my little man asleep for naps so I started adding the paci to the swaddle swing white noise routine for naps which made a big difference. He sleeps pretty decent at night (5-8 hrs) so my question is: when can I stop using the paci at nap time??

    • I think you can stop using the paci by Thursday. Maybe Friday?


      You don’t say how old your baby is but I’m assuming he’s little given that he’s still doing the swaddle, paci, and swing for naps. I can’t say “when” to wean the paci but of the three (swaddle, swing, paci) I would gently wean the paci off FIRST before dialing down the speed of the swing or popping one arm out of the swaddle….

  19. This post truly came at the right time….
    I am having trouble determining if my situation is a leave/ loose situation. My LO is 4.5 mnths and has had a VERY rough time settling herself without the paci for any sleep day or night since she was 3 mnths. I usually put her down to sleep at both naps and night sleep without it, but always end up giving in. Lately at night she has been waking 2-4 times. I only feed her at one of her wakings. The rest of the time she just needs the paci and she’s right back to sleep. Recently, she has started pulling it out and flinging it across the room which makes it longer and harder for her to fall asleep. I am not sure if this is just a phase or if I should I pull it all together? If I pull it at night do I have to pull throughout the day too? Please… HELP.

    • If she USED to take long naps and NOW is taking short naps, you may have a nap paci problem. If however she’s taking great naps WITH the paci then I don’t see a problem?

      The night thing is hard. If she’s waking 2-4 times a night, it really depends on how often it’s “2” and how often it’s “4”. I mean at 4 months, you expect to get up 2-3X a night. So the question is – do you think she would be getting up LESS frequently without the paci? Or would she still wake up needing some soothing from you in a different from (rocking, comfort nursing, etc.)?

      If you suspect the paci (or loss of) is actually waking her up it’s definitely time to start weaning off. You’ll KNOW if the 2-4X a night becomes 8-10 right?

      The upside of doing it NOW is that you still have other soothing options (minimally swaddle + white noise) so you aren’t leaving her with nothing. When babies are 8 months old, the swaddle option is generally off the table so the loss of the paci is a harder blow.

      Also, I’m not saying you have to stop TONIGHT AT ALL COSTS. I just think it’s good homework to give yourself ~2 weeks to gradually reduce how much you’re using it. Start with bedtime and once you’ve mastered it at night, dial back for naptime. Cool?

  20. Great post! I have so been stressing over this!! Despite me promising the husband I wouldn’t ‘google’ anything anymore, I stumbled on your blog. My baby Molly is just over 3 months and I introduced a dummy pretty early on. During the day she goes out like a light when I pop it in, but wakes up after 30 mins usually crying. The thing is I can’t bear to hear her cry, I sometimes wait a few minutes but she gets in such a state I cave in and pop it in. I really want her to get over that 30 min cycle and I’d like to get rid of the dummy, but I’m so anxious of listening to her cry!!

    She is a good sleeper at night, although usually falls asleep on breast and I put her down. She wakes up about 10 mins later but usually resettles herself by turning her head from side to side. She sleeps usually on a good night 7pm – 2 or 3ish, then to around 5.30/6. I also get anxious about the swaddle during the day as she squirms so much and seems to protest, and won’t let me straighten her right arm down now since the last week so I end up leaving it out. She fiddles about with a little furry comforter toy with her right hand.

    Should I lose it now? Will she ever get over the 30 min sleep bump without me?

    • Hey Cheryl,
      You and most other parents on the planet are struggling with the fundamental issue of helping your baby learn to fall asleep on their own.

      Some babies are motion junkies. Baby Molly likes to suck a lot. So nursing to sleep or the dummy are working great because she’s 3 months old. But you are locked into a 30 minute sleep cycle because she falls asleep, dummy pops out, she wakes up and isn’t sucking and thus doesn’t have enough soothing to continue sleeping. (Note: lots of 3 month old babies take 30 minute naps so ditching the paci isn’t a guarantee of long naps, but eventually the paci WILL have to go so….)

      Mostly when babies take short naps you can TRY to get them to fall back to sleep but generally it doesn’t work. Letting them cry when they wake up almost never works. So while there are times to let your little one fuss a bit, this is probably not one of them.

      Check this out:

      I think the broader issue is that you want to start gently removing sucking (either paci or nursing) from bedtime because soonish this is going to be a problem for you. And THAT is really the issue, more so than the soother. Does that make sense?

      I would play around with the pull out method for naps and bedtime. You’ll probably have better success starting at bedtime. But if it were ME I would want to keep the swaddle and ditch the paci first. Again don’t let her cry, but try working the pull out for a few days (yes it’s hard and will take more than a few times to get it working). But this is sort of a great time to do that.

      And sadly, it won’t be any easier next month. So good luck and let me know how things go!

  21. He’s 3.5 months old. So even though he has reflux the paci should go first? I got him to sleep in his crib for a nap this morning but he didn’t sleep as long. How long should I let him fuss in the swing without the paci before giving it to him? Sorry for all the open ended questions!!

    • If he has reflux he may be in the swing a lot longer than average. My own little refluxers were in the swing for 10 and 13 months (note: this is NOT the norm). But the upright angle of the swing, even when it’s not moving, is really helpful for refluxing babies.

      So yes I would work on gently removing the paci now but keep everything else – swaddle, white noise, swing, going strong.

  22. Hi Alexis,

    Thank you so much for your site. I wanted to give an update on how things went with getting rid of the pacifier. I posted the original query on another post, but this one is obviously more appropriate. For the sleep history and background see the comment from “Jillian”:

    Anyway, here’s how things are going with getting rid of the pacifier:

    Night 1: Put down awake in crib, but shush/patted her instead of binky & walk away. She cried for about 10 minutes, but eventually fell asleep. She woke a million times in the night (every sleep transition, maybe?), each time we shush/patted her instead of popping in the binky. Finally, after being up for an hour at 3:00 am, I caved and gave the binky to her. Fail.

    Day 1: Put to sleep awake for both naps, but shush patted instead of binky/walk away. She cried, but eventually fell asleep. Slept about 1.5 hours for both naps. :) Success!

    Night 2: Repeat of night 1 except I was stronger and prevailed! No binky! I had to rock her for an hour at 4:00am, though. :(

    Day 2: Repeat of Day 1, except second nap was short.

    Night 3: Repeat of night 2 except no hour long rocking session. Progress?

    Day 3: Repeat of Day 2, except she fell asleep with no patting for nap #1! Huge success! And second nap was long again.

    Night 4: Put down awake in crib, and shush/patted her until asleep. Magical. Slept the whole way through! 7 to 7, baby! Rock on.

    Day 4: Repeating from here on out…

    Night 5: Again, slept the whole way through! 7 to 7!

    Night 6: Woke around 4 and settled with shush/patting.

    Night 7: Woke around 5 wanting to breastfeed. Hmmm…

    Night 8: Again, woke around 5 and would only settle with breastfeeding. Hmmm….

    So, I think we may be over the pacifier hump! Hooray. I’m trying to phase out the shush/patting now, stopping when she is calm but not asleep. I can see she tries to settle herself the rest of the way, but then gets frustrated and cries. We’ll keep trying. The early morning wake-ups (between 4 and 5) not sure what to do about those. Maybe a dream feed before I go to bed would help her go the distance? I am reluctant to try it though because 1. I could potentially wake her up and 2. create a need for food in the night when really it wasn’t there. Or, just carry on? What do you think?

    • Jillian,
      I wish I had a way to push your comment up top so EVERYBODY could read it.


      Seriously, that is FANTASTIC work. This is a case-study-worthy example of how to make it happen.

      The 5:00 AM thing is REALLY REALLY common. You could try a dream feed and see what happens. I suspect she’ll wake up at 5:00 AM anyway. BUT TRY IT and see! Maybe she won’t.

      Lots of babies wake up early and can’t resettle without a feed, co-sleeping, or getting put into a swing. All of these I feel are a fair compromise compared to waking up at 5:00 AM. So it may not be something that you can fix, so much as it is something you sort of adapt to.


  23. I feel like I am on the fine line regarding the pacifier. I have 6 month old twin girls. One if off the pacifier and doing great. She was always my good sleeper at night (during the day we CIO for 20 min before every nap, but that is a different post). My other daughter needs the pacifier to fall asleep and cries incessantly if she doesn’t have it. During the night she commonly wakes up once around 1:30 for it (she is starting to be able to put them back in if they are near, but she commonly knocks them out of the crib) and then wakes again at 4:30 for an hour+ game of talking/playing/crying for the pacifier. I don’t know if this wake up is simply that she isn’t tired anymore or if it’s pacifier related. It isn’t as though she goes back to sleep once she has it. She plays with it, taking it out and putting it back in over and over. I really would love her to sleep til 6:30 like her sister, but that 4:30 wake is clearly preventing that. Is the 4:30 wake up just in her nature? They both go right to sleep at 6:30pm and she naps well during the day. I’m terrified to take it away. Thank you for this site! It has been great!

    • Naia,
      If she’s not waking up constantly seeking the paci then maybe it’s not a problem. Somebody else solved this problem with their baby by making their crib a paci ball bit (I just like the visual). Put a few in there. Point them out to her, “Here’s where your pacis are!” If she can figure out how to get and replace them by herself then GREAT!

      I don’t think the 4:00 AM thing is related to the paci. This is a really common thing where babies have JUST enough sleep that they don’t easily fall back to sleep at this point. Even though technically they need more sleep and 4:00 AM makes the night too short.

      Usually people handle this by putting baby in a swing, co-sleeping, or nursing back to sleep at 4:00 AM. None of these are great options but all are generally preferable to waking up at 4:00 AM. Also the 4:00 AM wakeup messes with naps and ESPECIALLY for you this is key because you want your babies napping simultaneously.

      So I would pile o the soothing (whatever you need to) at 4:00 AM to keep her in sync with her twin.

  24. I just saw this book at the library and thought of your post. “Little Bunny’s Pacifier Plan”. It has a cute ending.

    • YES! Books are awesomely helpful at reinforcing the message in a fun way. Thanks so much for the recommendation!

      (Alana – your avitar has some serious unibrow – don’t ask me why but that makes me laugh 😉

  25. I have a little boy who has just turned 3 months. We are just starting the ‘putting him down to sleep awake’ routine, as he has been sleeping less and less well over the last few weeks. We did have some success with putting him down sleepy in the past but this changed as our routine got very haphazard (we had to stay at my parents house whilst our kitchen was redone).

    We did manage to get him to take a paci (and he was initially a hater – the trick was to pick a slightly larger paci and insert it when he was sleepy and after a breast feed, still holding him close like he was feeding) but he is very selective about when he takes it. Happy sleepy = ok but overtired he spits it right out. However getting his to sleep is a real mission! We put him down in his cot now for naps as well as night time sleeps, and sometimes it seems to work like a dream – other times he hits the cot sleepy and wakes right up and screams and screams, and no amount of paci or rocking works. He isn’t a fan of movement – hated the swing we tried and hates the car, and rocking doesn’t really send him off. Feeding is about the only thing that actually soothes him, and as I have very little milk and we are primarily bottle feeding, that is a concern. The paci is great for when he is just drifting off but we also have issues with getting up to reinsert it.

    Totally exhausted! (As I am sure most of us are!)

    • Rachel,
      Do you have a paci problem or a “how to help baby fall asleep” problem? Also keep in mind that you are nipping at the heels of the 4 month sleep regression/growth spurt so if you feel you aren’t making any headway, it’s OK to pause for a few days and regroup.

      At 3 months I would keep working with white noise and a swaddle whenever he sleeps. And if his schedule was thrown off by camping at Grandma’s house he may be a bit overtired so you may need some time just to catch up on sleep and THEN work on hurdling “put down awake.”

      Feeding to sleep is fine and REALLY soothing even if the milk supply is low (it’s more about comfort than calories). You can use the pull off method for nursing to sleep too. Or with a bottle. But it will go better if he’s not overtired and has other soothing sources such as the swaddle and white noise. So hopefully between those three things (more sleep, swaddle, white noise) you will see some improvement weaning off the suck to sleep association.

      Also? Your blog is lovely.

  26. Okay, so I posted on your other post about my 10-week-old who loves to nap in is swing, but it seems like now we have a pacifier problem. If he falls asleep in his swing without his pacifier, he’ll generally take a nice long nap. But over the last few days he’s appeared to be absolutely addicted to the pacifier (mouthing for it constantly), and his naps have become a disaster. Usually during his transition to the second sleep cycle it falls out and that wakes him up, because he continues to suck in his sleep. Even with swaddle and white noise he’ll cry in his swing unless he has the pacifier, and his naps have become a LOT shorter. I’ve tried the “gentle removal” with no success. I know he has a strong need to suck and it obviously calms/comforts him so I feel bad taking it away, but I feel like it’s becoming a major issue :(

    • No luck at all putting him to sleep with swaddle, white noise, swing and no paci? Even if you try the varsity method of head jiggling and such?

      I also wonder if the reason he’s sucking so viciously lately is this:

      Is he extra hungry because of a growth spurt and that’s why he seems addicted to the paci?

      • So he’s now going on 13 weeks and I’ve decided that what we have is not a pacifier problem but a developmental short nap problem. Because he’ll sometimes wake up with the pacifier still in his mouth. Sometimes he falls back to sleep on his own, sometimes I’ll rub his head for 10 minutes and he’ll go back to sleep, and sometimes he’s just plain awake (which is the worst, because he’s generally cranky and tired again within a short time frame). He’s still napping lots in his swing but I think I might transition him to the crib because he’ll fall asleep fine there, he just won’t STAY asleep — but lately he won’t stay asleep in the swing either! I also think we might try to lose the pacifier, but I’m sort of terrified to do so as it’s his favorite soothing technique. We have a hard-core bedtime routine and we do swaddle, white noise and stroking his head, but I’m convinced it’s the pacifier that really puts him over the sleep edge. Right now when we put him down for bed he has the pacifier and drifts off to sleep with literally no protest — I’m afraid without the paci we’ll be in CIO territory!

        • Rachel,
          I wouldn’t sign up for hard-core CIO at 13 weeks. If he complains for 10 minutes great! If he’s really seriously crying then I would help soothe him. Try to keep it as minimal as possible but if he needs your help so be it. Or maybe this isn’t the time to loose the paci entirely – he is still quite young?

          Maybe he’ll surprise you. Definitely test the waters a bit. If he cries, wait 10-15 minutes, see what happens. If he needs some more soothing (head rubbing, a snuggle, etc.) that’s cool too. Some babies respond well if you put them in the crib and then jiggle the crib so that there is a bit of movement. That plus swaddle and white noise might do the trick?

          • I definitely do not plan to do CIO with him yet — sorry if I gave that impression! Unfortunately, the past two nights he’s been awake from 4-6 am crying when the pacifier falls out every FIFTEEN MINUTES (!), so I think it may be time to lose it :( He’s still napping in his swing — I think he COULD nap in his crib but I figured without the pacifier he needs all the soothing he can get — and this morning I did the loud SHHHH by his ear and stroked his head for ten solid minutes after he appeared to be asleep. (Bonus: It’s much easier on my back to do this while he’s in the swing, and I basically just have to hold my hand in place and his head strokes itself. Small victories!) I also did this through TWO transitions rather than just sticking the pacifier back in his mouth and he napped for just over two hours. (And woke up STILL tired and cranky, probably because of his poor sleep early this morning.)

            This afternoon, he fussed in the swing for about ten minutes before really starting to cry and I couldn’t calm him down, so I gave him the pacifier…he was super-drowsy within minutes and I pulled it out and held my hand under his chin. His eyes opened but he did drift off, and then I did the head-stroking through two more eye-openings until I was sure he was fully asleep. Then he woke up after 30 minutes and gentle removal only made him so hysterical that he couldn’t keep the paci in his mouth even if I wanted him to because he was crying so hard :( Then we were BOTH crying and now I don’t know what to do!

            • Hey Rachel,
              Sorry you’re having such a rough time :(

              I’m wondering if maybe this isn’t about the paci so much as it is something else? Could this be the 4 month growth/spurt sleep regression just come a bit early and the screaming about the paci is simply a side effect of that?

              If so the GOOD news is that everybody goes through this and it’s temporary. Even if it super sucks today :(

  27. The paci has already become my enemy and my LO is only 7 1/2 weeks old! Slowly but surely she has gotten to the point of needing it to fall asleep. Just a couple weeks ago it could fall out after she was asleep and she would be fine, through transition and everything. Suddenly we have been playing the paci game all nap long. The second it falls out she wakes up. Is it too young to do CIO cold turkey??? I can’t exactly do that right now because she has a nasty cold and any bit of crying just gets her super stuffy. But once this cold is gone I am so ready to be done with the paci at bed….or do you suggest waiting until she is out of the newborn stage? My first daughter found her thumb by two months and never took the paci again which made her a rockstar sleeper. My new baby still gets up twice a night…which I realize is probably appropriate for her age…but when my first was already sleeping through the night at this point still getting up twice is hard! And sometimes I wonder if she is waking because she is hungry or because the paci fell out. It’s so hard to tell at two in the morning :-) HElp!

    • Dear SAHMommy,

      Your first was sleeping through the night at 7 weeks? Dear God woman you won the easy-baby-lottery with that one!

      At 7 weeks I would feed 2X a night and feel lucky that it is only 2. In fact most people will read this and envy you only getting up 2. So when you go to new baby playgroups you may want to artificially inflate that number to 3-4 night feedings. Just so the other Mommies don’t want to punch you in the face 😉

      At 7 weeks I say EMBRACE THE SOOTHING. Give her lots of tools (not just the paci). Swaddle + white noise. I’m wondering if the paci alone is just not sufficient but if you give her lots of OTHER forms of soothing, you could break free of the nap paci game.

      Start with swaddle+ white noise. If you’re still paci shuffling, throw in the swing. She’s 7 weeks old so more is better!

      As for the night wakings, I would generally feed her. If the paci helps her sleep then she’s probably NOT hungry, but typically 7 week old babies can’t go more than 4 hours without food so when in doubt, feed.

      Yes it IS tiring, even more so because you presumably have an older kid bouncing around. So the whole “nap when the baby naps” thing doesn’t work anymore. #2 is WAAAAY harder for this reason. Welcome to the tired mommy club :)

  28. If take the paci away at bed time should I take it for nap time as well? Will it confuse her to have it for naps and not for bed?

  29. Hi Alexis

    Firstly, thank you for this blog – it seems a very readable and realistic approach you suggest.

    Having read about object permanence, we have decided to wean our 20week old daughter from her dummy in the past week. Doing so has really made us realise how heavily she depended on it as a cue for sleep – day and night. Using the dummy thus far however has not been all bad – it has enabled me to really develop a good sleep and nap pattern to this point – including the much sought after 2-3 hour daytime naps, (and two-three other shorter ones). In addition, generally, she has been a good nightime sleeper (using the dummy), waking usually once at 4am for a feed and otherwise sleeping from 8pm to 7-8am. But, on occasions we have resorted to the ‘paci shuffle’, and i suspect, therefore when she really develops object permanence in full we’ll be playing a dangerous game if we continue to rely on it.

    Weaning off the dummy so far has been a mixed bag, with plenty of screaming and distress…until i discovered the power of white noise! My worry, however, and my question to you is exactly that. Am I now risking her attatching permanence to white noise; will she not become as attatched to the sound of the hairdryer (our chosen provider of white noise), and as dependent on it to fall asleep as she has been the dummy? Will it be a matter of ‘weaning’ from white noise too? In the meantime, we’re working on strengthening other cues, but i was really interested to hear what you thought with particular regard to this – the hairdryer was on a couple of times last night….and i’ve no doubt our electricity bill is creeping skywards, but then it really, really works.

    Many thanks again, Mel

    • Hey Mel,

      White noise is THE BEST. For so many reasons. Check this out:

      Use till their 1 for multiple benefits. Gradually wean off whenever.

      I WOULD however ditch the blow dryer. For starters, it’s not continuous (you aren’t standing there with the blow dryer all night are you?). Secondly it’s probably a bit too loud (although in desperation I’ve used it myself, here’s a picture of me doing do in fact!

      But you really want 50 dB which is roughly the volume of somebody taking a shower. Check the article I linked on white noise. Try working with an old radio or something with volume control. You shouldn’t have to buy something. Anyhoo then it’ll be cheap, easy, effective, help protect against SIDS, and easy to wean off of a long time from now.

      Good luck!

  30. Well, my second son is 5 months old. He has been addicted to the paci since birth, needing to suckle to sleep. By 3-4 months i had lost way too much sleep returning it to him every hour through the night and during nap time. So, i took it away cold turkey. This was painful. I was getting to the point of thinking cio wasn’t going to work when a week went by, but it finally got better. Now he seems to have come out of his remission for it and woke up every 2 hours last night wanting to use me as a paci since i won’t give him one. He is still in our room because i want him to be sleeping almost through the night before he shares a room with our 2 yo. Should i allow the paci again? I thought of a way to clip it to his sleep sack so that it should stay near his face ( i use the wubbanubs and i am going to sew a suspender clip to it). Or should i stick to my guns and not give in? We travel to florida in 2 daya where me, him and my 2 yo will be sharing a room. My biggest fear is that my 2 yo will lose sleep and he is a nightmare when he is overtired.

    • Hey Melissa,
      That sounds super frustrating. Well for safety sake, I’m not on board with attaching the paci to him in any way. In fact I might be more inclined to take a step back and ask – what does he really need?

      Is he:
      A) Hungry? Lots of babies have growth spurts where they are legitimately more hungry at times. Is he really using you as a human pacifier or is he just extra hungry right now?
      B) Seeking soothing? If he needs more soothing to get through sleep cycles (why now? who knows!) then are there other ways to give him that soothing that don’t require the pacifier? Loud white noise? swaddle? Maybe even (temporarily) a swing?

      I suggest this because popping in the paci every 2 hours doesn’t really solve anything and potentially puts you on the path to another 1 week CIO session in the future. Unless you feel he is old enough to “find” it on his own again? This is where you put a pile of pacis in his crib and he can figure out how to find and replace them without your assistance. If you DON’T think he can do that, then I would really encourage you to find another way for him to get the soothing he seeks at night :(

  31. My son is just over 4 months and I want to lose the pacifier as I see trouble ahead (it’s starting already). Is it too early as I know there will be protesting (read: all-out crying)? Should I just ditch it for both night and daytime sleep or just work on nighttime for now and do naps later (or is that just crazy)? Or should I just wait 2 more months when I’m more comfortable letting him CIO? He falls asleep on his own fine but wakes for his pacifier at EXACTLY 48 minutes for naps and several times throughout the night. Thanks in advance for your insight.

    • Are you providing lots of OTHER soothing? Swaddle and white noise minimally? I like the idea of weaning off now because you can still offer ALTERNATIVE soothing. When baby is 6+ months your options are far more limited. And I hate to leave a baby with no soothing options at all if there is a way to avoid it. Thoughts?

      • Hi Alexis,

        Thanks for responding – yes, lots of other soothing & well established routines for both nap & bed (white noise, swaddling) but to no avail! Went through a very hellish 4 month sleep regression with short naps and many night wakings (pure torture). Things are getting better but only slightly (he’s just 5 months now). He’s starting to consolidate some of the naps and his night waking is less but still – I’m exhausted. I’ve decided to just continue as we are with routine, soothing, pacifier (for now) until after the holidays and life is back to normal (we go away for Christmas). He’ll be 6 months then and I’ll start the sleep training w/o the pacifier. Only one more month…

      • I have the same exact issue as Monique and am wondering about whether to ditch the paci for naps and night sleep, or just for night sleep.

        My son has never really napped for more than 40-50 minutes at a time and is up many, many times at night for paci reinsertion (6-8 times a night?) or feeding (3-4 times a night). I would say this is part of the four month sleep regression, but he’s never been a good sleeper so there wasn’t much to regress from. Sigh.

        He’s just over four months old, so I guess he shouldn’t do full on CIO, but I’m pretty desperate to get some sleep. He has many sleep cues: dark room, sleep sack, white noise, and good routines for nap and bedtime. Should I just give the cold turkey approach a try? Thanks so much for your help and for creating this amazing site!

  32. When my 4 month old starting making me get up anywhere from 5-10 times a night to put his pacifier back in his mouth, I knew something had to change. I did lots of research on the subject of “losing the pacifier” and read lots of parents’ comments on how things went with their baby when they did so. About 4 days ago, my husband and I decided cold turkey was the way to go. I’ve read all of the comments on this article, and I thought for sure my baby would be the one who screamed for 2-3 hours the first night. He seemed very attached to his pacifier even though we did many other sleep cues–swaddling, white noise, dark room. We took it away last Friday night and he only cried for 15 minutes before nodding off to sleep. We were shocked! I thought he might make more of a fuss at around 2am when he usually woke for his first “paci reinsertion”. He did wake and cried but only for 20 minutes before going back to sleep. He woke once more that night, but only cried for 5 minutes before going to back to sleep. Naptimes went similarly–some crying, but overall better sleep quality for him. Last Saturday night was the first night I’ve gotten a full night’s rest without any interruption from him requiring me to get out of bed. I feel like a new person! He is a champion sleeper, though naptimes are still hard for him to fall back asleep if he wakes. Overall my husband and I were SO impressed with how well he did and are so glad we took this step. This is to encourage any parents out there who may be nervous about how their baby will react. We thought for sure he’d scream for hours and not do well and we’d have to go back to using the paci. You can do it! It’s so worth it!

  33. Hi Alexis,

    I’ve posted before with CIO questions (thank you for your help!) but now we find ourselves at the beginning of what I see becoming a paci problem. My husband isn’t so sure – I’m hoping you can help.

    Our daughter is just over 8 months old. We sleep trained using Ferber at 6 months. It took about a month for bedtime to not be a cryfest. Since then, she’s been sleeping 7pm to about 3am, when she nurses and then goes right back to sleep until 6:30/7am. We were thrilled with this!

    However, now her two front teeth are coming in, and she is not happy. I can tell they are really bothering her. So we’ve been giving Advil at bedtime. With the teething, a new pattern seems to be emerging. She’ll go to sleep fine around 7 (no paci) but then wake up screaming bloody murder between a half hour and an hour later. She’ll settle right down and go back to sleep with a pacifier. But for the past three nights, she’s been waking again around midnight and then again at 4am. I’ve been nursing her at those because I feel bad for her being in pain.

    Tonight, she’s already been up 2 times and it’s only 9:30.

    So I’m worried she’s waking to get the paci put back in, and is now getting used to me coming right in to comfort her.

    However, I don’t feel like I can let her CIO if she’s in pain.

    Do I just keep comforting as necessary until these teeth are all in? Then re-sleep train? Won’t there be teeth coming in for the next two years?!

    Any advice?


    • Hey Nicole,
      I don’t think your options are “up all night” vs. “teething+CIO” maybe there is a third option.

      And that is generally more/different medication 😛
      Check this out:

      A few ideas:
      – Try a different medication
      – Give it to her PRIOR to bedtime (if it takes 30-40 minutes to kick in she may not be getting any benefit 40 minutes post bedtime thus the crying)
      – Check the dose with your pediatrician. Maybe she temporarily needs a bump in dosage?

      I would do what you can with those options and see if you can’t make some improvement without all night nursing or future CIO. Good luck!

  34. Alexis,

    I would love your thoughts on this. I have a refluxer since one week old. She is now 3 1/2 months and coming along with the reflux. From day 1 she was dependent on the paci. I know the paci has been very helpful with her reflux. However, she is truly paci addicted. We can put her down for naps and bedtime wide awake, however, she is dependent on the paci to fall asleep. We are popping the darn thing in 6-8 times a night! We are sooooo sleep deprived. I would love to try the Elizabeth Pantley Method first for 2 weeks before going cold turkey. This might be an odd question, but if you do this method for sleeping does it mean that you eliminate the paci totally during awake time in the day (for example, when out and about and driving in the car and doing errands and baby is still awake, can she still have it if you are practicing the Pantley method for sleeping?)

    • You are welcome to use the paci when not sleeping. Most babies have no issue with this. However I will warn you that…

      Most refluxing kids sleep like crap. And you’re heading right into the 4 month sleep regression where most babies also sleep like crap. So you are looking at crap sleep squared.

      I know you’re exhausted from shuffling in there 8X a night but make sure you are giving baby TONS of soothing. For refluxing kids I like swaddle, white noise, swing, and sometimes even THEN, still the paci.

      At least that way if you take away the paci there is still other sources of soothing right?

      But keep in mind your little refluxer will need more soothing for longer than non refluxing babies. I don’t say this to bum you out (although you’re probably pretty bummed out now – sorry about that) but so that you understand that your path will be different from the other Moms at the baby group. You can try things – there is no harm in that. But if they don’t work (because your path is harder) it’s OK to accept that for now, it’s as good as it’s going to get.

      Sorry :(

      • Alexis,
        Thank you so much for your reply. Whether you have had a refluxer of your own or not, you truly understand what we are going through with ours. So many people have said to me “My baby used to spit up too!” It hurts because they really don’t understand. Their babies hadn’t screamed bloody murder and had been on Prevaced and Zantac since a week old. Ok, there is my rant! Off topic, I know, but I really appreciate your response and to know that it is ok to accept it for what it is right now.

        Cheryl :) xxx

        • Hi Cheryl,
          What ended up working for you? Does you LO still use the pack to fall asleep? I have a 6 month old with GERD and its horrible. I get your frustration when people say “my baby spits up too”. It’s so much more than that . Anyway, I’m trying to figure out how and if I should take the pack away. She’s waking up almost every 45 min now and I’m exhausted. It could be that she has a head cold so I don’t know if I should bother trying now or when she’s over being sick.

  35. Hi Alexis,

    Your website has saved me. My daughter is 10 weeks old, and since I found your site 5 weeks ago, I’ve embraced swaddling, white noise, and the swing, and the household slept great!

    My daughter was sleeping great in her crib. I’ve been putting her down awake for just over two weeks (with her pacifier), after a routine of bathing her, cuddling and feeding her in a rocking chair for 15 minutes, then having loud white noise and making sure she is swaddled tight. Things were great up until this past week. She wakes up every single time the pacifier falls out of her mouth. Every time. I am putting it back in 15 to 20 times each night (some nights its more than that). I attempted to take it away two days ago, and it went horribly. She LOST HER MIND. I stuck it out for a couple hours but in the end I caved. I started to worry that I was taking it away too soon, since everything I’ve read says that sucking is still a reflex at this age. I also felt awful that she cried for so long – I tried putting her down, holding her, walking, rocking, putting her in the swing… everything – all while she was swaddled, with loud white noise going. She screamed her head off for hours. I feel like I have no choice but to keep stumbling to her crib time after time to put the paci back in her mouth. Is she too young for me to take it away??

    • That doesn’t sound like a party :( I think the real issue is that she’s barely 10 weeks old – she’s still itty bitty. And while you consider that you were putting her down awake, you kind of weren’t. I mean yes you PUT her down awake but she wasn’t really falling asleep on her own, she was falling asleep WITH a paci. So the fundamental issue is that she doesn’t know HOW to fall asleep on her own.

      When you take away the paci I doubt the problem is that she really NEEDS the paci. I feel like the problem is probably more about the fact that she doesn’t know how to fall asleep on her own. So without her paci to help her fall asleep she is stuck. And her screams are her own frustration/inability to fall asleep on her own. “WHAT DO YOU EXPECT ME TO DO IN HERE!??!?”

      At 10 weeks teaching her to fall asleep is a great thing to work on. But I wouldn’t do so if it requires a ton of screaming. If the paci results in her waking up 10X a night however, then the paci isn’t really reasonable. So…is there some other form of soothing that will remain consistent throughout the night. What about using the swing at night for a while?

      The swing would be consistent so you don’t have to pop it back in all night long. And it can be a powerful tool to help her learn to fall asleep on her own. And generally weaning off the swing (when she’s a tad older) is not a huge production.

      So I guess that’s my best bet for how to get everybody sleeping better without tears. Good luck!

  36. Hello!

    I read through all the comments, trying to find a similar situation to mine…maybe I’ve missed it but here is our current scenario:

    Our son is almost 5 months (next week) and is an avid pacifier user…since birth he loves to suck. Right now we use a pacifier for naps and bedtime, and occasional soothing during the day. He’ll spit out the pacifier once he falls asleep, both for naps and at bedtime. He is a great sleeper, sleeps “through the night” most of the time. We keep him swaddled and we have white noise on during the night (static from an alarm clock), that has definitely helped his sleep. We’ve started laying him down awake, but drowsy with his pacifier and he’ll fuss for a couple minutes but then go to sleep. Lately he’s been waking up a few times in the night (almost like clockwork the past few nights, 12:30a, 3:00a and 5:30a) and we put his pacifier in and he’ll go back to sleep (all three times).

    We like that he goes right to sleep after getting the pacifier but I’m starting to wonder if we should stop with the re-inserting at night? Are his sleep cycles maturing where he is waking up more? And should we let him fuss a little before going in and putting his plug in (as my husband likes to say…)

    Thoughts from you, and anyone else, are appreciated. We’re not going crazy yet but just want to avoid going down that road…if possible :)

    • If you want him to not seek your paci reinsertion services throughout the night the key will be no not use it AT bedtime. Does that make sense? If he has it at bedtime he’s going to be pretty chuffed when you fail to put his plug back in throughout the night. So generally your options are:
      – Embrace it. If he’s outgrowing the swaddle in another month or so maybe you can help him find them and self-plug on his own. Most babies aren’t so great at this (you can make a paci ball pitt but they still can’t figure out how to get them into their own mouth). But some will figure it out if you put a few in the corner and repeatedly point them out to them.
      – Stop using the paci AT bedtime. His requests at night will continue as long as he’s using it AT bedtime.This may not be a super smooth process – I can’t promise no tears. But the root problem IS falling asleep WITH the paci.

      Hope that helps!

      • Yes, this helps. He’s been very “chuffed” (as you put it, love that word) when he loses his pacifier in the middle of the night…although as of late, he has learned to roll over while being swaddled.

        So now we are having to get rid of both his swaddle AND his pacifier…all of his soothing gone away (besides the white noise). I’m in full compliance of getting rid of the swaddle first (for safety), or at least swaddle with his arms out. Although we tried that last night and he still woke up, rolled over and looking for that pacifier. I was up 5 times last night doing the reinsert walk-of-shame. I will try and create a paci ball pit, and see if that helps?

  37. I think we need to do this. My baby is almost five months old and falls asleep well “on his own” with the pacifier but wakes up often in the night needing it. We’re in a conundrum because he sleeps best swaddled with the pacifier but he is desperate to get his hands out of the swaddle to suck on. When he does he cannot get himself back to sleep. He gets his pacifier out and is lost. So do we do the cold turkey with the swaddle and pacifier at the same time, or just let him break out of the swaddle and not redo it? Desperate to get more sleep.

    • I would vote for keeping the swaddle. That’s pretty much my general feeling on swaddling – when in doubt, swaddle.

      If the problem is that he’s breaking out, try a different swaddle. Or people SWEAR by a double swaddle.

      Younger babies struggle with actually soothing themselves with their hands. Often they sort of bat themselves in the face with their hands in the process and get frustrated about it. So if the swaddle IS working, I would hate to loose a “this definitely works” in exchange for a “may or may NOT work” option.

      Also I fear that if at 5 months you take away ALL his soothing, you’re going to be left with a baby who is pretty unhappy. So personally my vote is cold turkey with the paci, double swaddle to keep that rolling along.

      Good luck!

  38. Hello! I just found your site this week and it is a life-saver! My son is 6.5 months old, and his sleep-related goals are 1) falling asleep on his own and 2) losing the pacifier. Since turning 6 months he has struggled with frequent night wakings. (Like, 6-8 per night.)

    I have a question about loveys. Is 6.5 months the right age to allow a lovey in the crib, or too young? If it is OK, can you give some specific guidelines for choosing a lovey for a baby? My son received a very nice one as a gift at his birth–a stuffed puppy whose body is like a blanket–but I worry it’s too big/thick to take to bed and would pose a SIDS risk.


    • Loveys are wonderful! Usually they’re fairly small (maybe 6 inches across) so if this one is truly like a blanket, it could be too big. The real challenge is finding one he really takes to. Some babies like ones with rubber nubbys on them that they chew on. Some babies love ones with small tags on them that they rub with their fingers. Some babies like it when Mom “wears” the lovey next to her skin so it smells like Mom.

      So if you sorry the lovey is TOO big I’m inclined to go with your gut and find one you feel more comfortable with. But you may have to try a few to find one that your baby will really cleave too.

      It’s a bit of a trial and error process. Good luck finding a winner!

  39. Overall we’re really really lucky, and our baby is a great sleeper. I think, however, we have or are developing a pacifier problem. Right now it’s a little problem, but I’d love to be able to prevent it becoming a big problem.

    My daughter is 14 weeks old. She started sleeping well early on and has kept it up, despite dealing with MSPI and reflux (thank goodness for Prilosec). She sleeps with loud white noise, swaddled, on a shallow wedge in her crib, in a dark room, wearing a sleep hat (so LOTS of sleep cues). She used to sleep in a Nap Nanny, but we successfully transitioned out of that once her reflux was under control. She’s never been a swing sleeper, and now she’s started to try curling up out of it (she prefers sitting or standing up to lying down), so we can’t leave her in it unattended. She generally goes down for the night at 6:45 – 7:45 and sleeps until 4:45 – 5:45, when she’s up for 45 – 60 minutes to eat, and then back down for an hourish. (Hence really really lucky). She used to take consistent hour naps (followed by an hour awake time), with occasional longer naps thrown in. For quite some time we’ve been able to put her down awake with her pacifier and she’d suck herself to sleep, not worrying when it came out.

    In the past couple of weeks, however, that’s started to change. At night it can take 5 – 10 pacifier reinsertions before she actually goes down (and one memorable evening this week, many more than that over two hours), often followed by a brief wakeup 30 minutes later for yet another pacifier reinsertion. She’s started waking up some nights around midnight or 3am and needing the pacifier as well. And her nice 60+ minute naps have become 30 – 45 minutes (though I can sometimes stretch them if I get the pacifier to her right away when she wakes up).

    I suspect part of this may be an object permanence problem (though she’s young for it), because the same day the naps got short she started screaming when the babysitter had her…and the grandparents…and a friend who visited and talked to her while I was out of the room.

    My question is, what now? If the pacifier is a problem, what are our options? Without it she just fusses and won’t settle, and she seems to young for CIO. Her attempts to escape the swing seem to rule it out as an option.

    Thanks for your fantastic blog and help!

    • Well it also could be a sleep regression/growth spurt which is really common at 4 months and typically makes everybody miserable. If SO you may want to reconsider loosing the paci just now?

      Otherwise there is no awesome way to loose the paci sans-tears beyond what I’ve put in this post or tons of soothing (often the swing is helpful). So if THAT isn’t an option then I’m not sure what you can do sans-tears. HOwever if bedtime is devolving into a 2 hour mess, maybe it’s worth consideration?

      • I wanted to send a quick note to say thanks so much for the feedback. Between you and a postpartum doula friend, you “talked me down” from the ditch-the-darned-pacifier ledge. She did indeed seem to get beyond it after a week or so (going back to needing it replaced once or twice at most,) so perhaps it was a sleep regression (if so, I know we actually got off quite easy!) And she was even taking longer naps for awhile there, but once again seems to be regressing, with short naps/pacifier freak-outs at nap time. I’m trying to learn from last time and give it a bit before panicking. And, on her doctor’s advice, working really hard on rolling so she can sleep on her stomach, which we suspect would solve a variety of problems.

        Thank you again for your great site and help!

  40. Hi,
    I have 6 month old twin girls. One who does not take the pacifier and is the “perfect” baby. I put her in her crib awake, she may fuss for a couple of minutes if even at all and then falls asleep. If she wakes up in the middle of the night, no intervention is needed and she is able to fall back to sleep on her own. However, my other daughter is complete opposite. We have been battling GERD with her for 5 months and she has become to rely on the pacifier to help soothe herself at bedtime. She is still sleeping in my room in a rock n play sleeper next to my bed. We use white noise and she is in a sleep sack. She is able to sleep in her crib for naps and at the beginning of bedtime but once she wakes up looking for the pacifier its a downhill battle from there (Partly because of my exhaustion and laziness). I do not want to keep getting up to reinsert the pacifier in her mouth all night long. I have tried not giving it to her and she just cries and cries and cries. If I am not to give her the pacifier back and she wakes up screaming, Ill have to pick her up to calm her down but she then needs the pacifier again to go back to sleep. At this time we are dealing with teething and a head cold. I don’t know what to do because she is now waking up approx every 45 min and I’m exhausted. I’m not sure if it is because of the cold or not. In the recent past, I was able to just put the pacifier back in and she would go back to sleep and not need to be picked up. Any advice or help would be appreciated. I’ve considered the CIO method but her temperament will not allow. She is a 0-60 type of baby. She is either happy and quiet or screaming bloody murder with no in between.


    • Hey Allyson,
      Well my motto is: GERD+no sleep=swing

      So that’s probably where I would go. Loud white noise, sleep sack, swing. Of course you already have the rock n play so you could experiment with manually swinging her in it. See the varsity method in link below.

      Swinging her manually isn’t much better than popping in the paci but it may be a way to help her fall asleep without TOTALLY freaking out. If she wakes up needing you to manually swing her all night long, then YAY it’s working. And you can race to Target to get a nice swing for her. Refluxing kids are often in swings far later than happy-tummy babies. So while she seems “old” its’ not that unusual for refluxers.

    • This is slightly off topic but this comment is very interesting to me. Some people have suggested to me (either directly or indirectly) that the fact that my (then newborn) baby cannot fall asleep on his own is my mistake. That it’s something I tought him (he would only fall asleep nursing). As a new mom I felt miserable and like a failure. I still wasn’t willing to let my 5-day old baby scream his head off because someone thought I shouldn’t give him the breast.
      So when I read about parents of twins where one baby falls asleep on her own and the other one doesn’t it makes me think maybe all those people were wrong. I have no experience with twins but expect it would be quite difficult to raise the two of them differently. If one is a natural self-soother and the other one isn’t I imagine it is a skill you either are born with or not and to blame the parent seems to be wrong. Wonder what you think about this…

      • What remote jungle tribe are you writing from? I can only assume that is why your fellow tribemates are telling you that you are a failure because your 5-day old baby can’t fall asleep on his own. Seriously….


        Because they’re newborns. NONE of them can. Send these people who think you are somehow failing over to come sit by me and we’ll have a nice long chat about what newborns do.

        I’ll give them the whole “4th trimester” speech a la Karp, let them know that our babies are born TOO early because we’re smart and have huge heads so they have to (otherwise they would never fit through the birth canal). I’ll tell them that compared to all other mammals on the planet we’re effectively giving birth to fetuses (again because we are smart and have bigger heads than other mammals) which is why they need SOOO much assistance from us for the first few months.

        This is why. Not because you are failing as a parent. Not because your baby got bad genes. And not because you weren’t quick enough to teach him some crucial life skill that all the other 5 day old babies had already mastered.

        Sorry – it’s dinner time and I’m cranky. I shouldn’t respond to comments on an empty tummy. But gheesh louise people…

        Why are we judging people who nurse their 5 day old baby? Why can’t we just spend our judgment hours talking about that Mom who took her kid to the tanning salon. Cuz she actually deserves it 😛

        • Thank you :)
          I am the sort of person that needs to understand things so when sleep fell apart after 3 weeks I ran to the Internets and read everything I could and fell upon the 4th trimester theory so I knew what was going on but still, it is is soooo easy to make a new mom feel miserable. I guess the topic of mommy guilt is a hot one for everybody.

  41. DD is 6 months and overall a easygoing kid and decent sleeper. We just made it through 2 teeth, a cold, the 6 month sleep regression and holiday travel. All of that threw us all for a loop. While everything was crazy anyway we decided to lose the pacifier. She was already up screaming so it couldn’t get much worse. We have been doing cry it out for night and naps. Overall it has been going okay though tonight was a big step back (still crying at 30+ minutes). I am still struggling with it but so far keeping at it.

    My question relates to day care. We have been on vacation until tomorrow. She goes 5 days a week and takes 2-3 naps a day there. They do not have all the wonderful sleep cues that I am able to give at home (dark room, white noise and lovey). Can she use the pacifier there without setting us back at home? Since I am already struggling with the cry it out I really don’t like the idea of her crying even more at day care, though I don’t want to go through this all again as we are 4 days into extinction. Any thoughts?

    Happy new year! Thanks so much for your wonderful website and information. It has been SO helpful.

  42. We need your help! Our little girl is 13 weeks old and has always really struggled with sleep. Literally, since birth. We have had a consistent bedtime routine since week 2 that includes a bath, massage, swaddle, song, nurse, white noise. Up until she was about 8 weeks I would nurse her, pull her off just before she fell asleep and she would finish falling asleep in my arms. Then, around 8 weeks she started crying after I would remove her from the breast. She would start rooting again, like she wanted to suck, but would just cry louder if put on the breast. We would just hold her and try and soothe her until she finally calmed down and fell asleep. Well, around 10 weeks she started fighting her swaddle and wanting to touch her hair and mouth to soothe herself so we removed one arm from the swaddle. She suddenly went from sleeping for 5 hr stretches to 7-8 hr stretches. Then, we removed the 2nd arm from the swaddle and around 11 weeks she started sleeping for 10 hr stretches!!! But, we still had the crying at bedtime which was frustrating. Also, around 11 weeks she started taking a pacifier at naps which helped her fall asleep then without crying. Around the 12 1/2 week mark her crying at bedtime got worse – she was wanting that pacifier to suck to sleep. Against my desire, my husband really wanted to give it to her. So, we tried it. Well, since then she wakes up 15-20 times a night needing it to be reinserted. She has stopped soothing herself with her hands when she stirs at night and looks for the pacifier (which has fallen out) and when it’s not there wakes up and starts crying.

    We can’t continue this way so we are going to have to get rid of the pacifier at night. After that long story, here are my questions:

    1. Is it possible to not give her the pacifier at night but offer it at naps? It is very hard to deal with crying when she goes down for every single nap.

    2. She has NEVER put herself to sleep on her own (except in the swing). Though, with the pacifier I think she’s capable. Should I get her to put herself to sleep with the pacifier, then take away the pacifier or take away the pacifier and then get her to sleep on her own? I had planned on taking the pacifier first so I could hold her and soothe her through the crying when she doesn’t receive it.

    Any other suggestions?? I feel like such a jerk giving her the pacifier and then taking it away a week later.

    • I have the exact same questions! My guy is just about four months old and I have started trying to get him to nap without me. I’ve gone a little insane from my messy house at this point of course, so that is why. Also, it’s good for HIM. Anyway, he only naps 30 minutes at a time. Boo. But that is fine because I read here that his brain isn’t ready for longer yet. (Still, my schedule is up 45, nurse 15, down 30, up 45, nurse 15, down 30—needless to say I am praying for his brain to be ready for longer naps soon.)

      I see that the pacifier is going to be a problem in the long run, but don’t don’t want to take it away WHILE trying to get him to sleep alone. I get the one arm out thing which is great but do I do that AFTER he learns to fall asleep on his own? So far, when I catch that magic moment of sleepiness he goes down like a champ, but I can’t imagine that working without the paci. At night it’s not a problem, as he sleeps with me and nurses as he needs to. We both get great rest. He sleeps from 7pm to 7am with some short nursing every 2 hours or so. I barely wake up, for that i feel blessed.

      Ditto to the above two questions!

  43. Just a suggestion in case anyone finds it helpful: a friend of mine weaned her kiddos from pacifiers by slowly cutting more and more of the tip off until it wouldn’t stay in their mouth. Then she would tell them it was broken. I haven’t done it myself, because my kiddo isn’t stuck on the pacifier – no, he’s stuck to my boob instead – but best of luck to everyone.

    • And you know, I can’t cut off the tip of my boob.

    • My VERY orally fixated daughter kept the paci for naps and bedtime only till she was 2.5 years. Yikes! But progressively cutting off the tip did the trick for us. She never looked back. She’s now 5 and is a champion sleeper. So don’t worry, it can be eliminated later too.

  44. Hi Alexis –

    Thank you for your blog. The paci-predicament has been a hot topic in our house for a couple of months now and we are finally at the point where we are taking the bull by the horns to start removing it. I’m quite happy to go cold turkey, I just wasn’t sure what that would actually look like (although Jillian’s above post was really helpful!). When we read about the swing, I was skeptical as I was one of those new moms who poo-pooed it when it didn’t work immediately in the early days but my husband said we should try it since our 5 month old doesn’t need his paci when we are in the car, or in the stroller or baby carrier to fall asleep. After a week of sleep deprivation due to illness (we all had bad colds), I’m willing to try and guess what? We did the 5 minute check to see how he was doing in the swing sans paci and … asleep! You have made me a believer that we can do this. It is going to take time but that’s totally okay.

    It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you’re so tired but reading what others have written really helps. We have agreed to start moving towards the crib with your suggestions about using the swing as a medium to do that. I feel like we finally have some tools to actually make this happen – even if it takes a month or two.

    Thanks again.

    • I just wanted to add that the reason I was so resistant to weaning the paci is because I was convinced that the first time we didn’t give it to him, he would cry and cry and cry. Instead he just put his lovey to his cheek, we used the white noise as we always do, and the swing soothed him.

  45. First of all, i love this site Alexis. You have eased my mind of a lot of new mom worries and I have continually visited with new issues since my daughter Ava was born!

    I was wondering what your thoughts were on paci problems and swaddling. We still swaddle Ava at 4 months (both hands) because she sleeps better with it but she is slowly starting to learn how to suck her own fingers. Do I dare leave an arm out and see if she uses her fingers instead of crying for the pacifier a million times a night?

  46. My little one is 3 months 2 weeks and she has acid reflux. She takes the pacifier when it is time for naps or bedtime. She also takes it while in the car seat which normally leads to a nap. We moved her to her crib a few weeks ago and she is doing really well in there but now that she is not in her bassinet next to our bed we are noticing a problem. Our bedtime routine is pretty much the same every night. Bath, lotion massage, bottle, burp, swaddle on and pacifier in then i rock her for a couple minutes and in the crib she goes with white noise. She will sleep most nights until around 4:30am at that point she cries but never really opens her eyes and I go in to put her pacifier back in then she is right back to sleep. The problem is sometimes this goes on for the rest of the night. sometimes she will go back to sleep until around 5:30 but then every half an hour she is back up for her pacifier. I don’t know what to do. I know that it is very soothing to her especially because of the reflux but I am getting so little sleep! I’m not sure if I should stop using it completely ;( please help!

    • Our experience with our daughter (who is four months) is that when in the early morning she won’t really resettle like that, she’s hungry. The pacifier may put her off for a bit, but when she loses it or stirs, the hunger wakes her again. At three months it seems like your little girl might just still need to eat in the early morning. Our daughter has now gone to waking between 4:30 and 5:30 and then back down until 6:30ish most mornings – not fun, but not terrible, either. And I console myself by looking at my slightly obsessive sleep logs and realizing that the first wake up is slowly getting later and later…

      • I agree with Kristin. Our LO is 3.5 months also and generally stirs around 4-5 a.m. to be fed and will go back to sleep until about 7. He actually wakes between 1-2 a.m. also. I think only waking once at that age is great! I think most babies at that age will still wake up at least twice through the night. I would maybe try feeding LO at that time instead of paci and see if she will settle down so you can at least have a couple more hours of sleep.

  47. Yup I love the dummy alright. I was terrified that it would ruin my life eventually and is be up all night re-plugging it once she was 6 months old, BUT have had NO issues at all! In fact I think it’s been really good for her hand eye coordination because by 4.5 months she had worked out how to take it out and put it back in her own mouth. Now at 8
    Months she’s a master of the dummy and can pop it back in her own mouth while she’s still asleep.
    Definitely don’t be afraid of the dummy I say :)

  48. We are currently a week and a half into CIO to lose the pacifier with our 7 month old. She went from a wonderful sleeper to waking up every two hours so that we could give her the pacifier back. So, we ditched it cold turkey just for night time sleep. She cries anywhere between 5 and 30 minutes to fall asleep which is livable. The thing that really kills me is she is still waking up every two to three hours and cries herself back to sleep. We have been very religious about the CIO and never go back in after we put her down until her 5:30am crying spell where we go in and try to just pat sooth her so she can make it to a 6:00am wakeup time. She goes to sleep at 6:15pm right now because she also recently lost her third nap so that is really as long as she can make it before it is bed time. On average she gets about 3 hours of total napping in so I feel she is very well rested. All this CIO work has basically resulted in me still waking up in the night every two to three hours but instead of getting up to put the pacifier back in I just get to listen to her cry. It feels like all we have done is successful taught her not to use a pacifier to fall asleep but to use crying to fall asleep instead. Maybe if I read between the lines this is the point of CIO?

  49. Hi Alexis,
    I’m not sure if anyone else had just this issue, b/c I am tired and couldn’t quite read through all the comments, but here’s our paci situation where we are hesitant to “wean” when we also have an older child whose sleep we’re trying to protect:

    Our son will be one in 5 days, and he is a major paci baby. For a while when he was younger (like 4-8 months), he liked it but he was able to sleep without it. He could fall asleep for the night and for naps without it but we would use it during the day when he was fussy, or in the car, or the store or whatever and he always really liked it. Somehow we had managed to not always use it at night. But little by little, as naps were challenging, we let him have it for naps if he woke up early and then he’d go back to sleep. And then if he woke up early in the night and we didn’t want to feed him yet, we’d give it to him. And then some evil combo of being sick and teething and travelling basically led to us letting him have it go to sleep too b/c we were at the end of our ropes and would’ve given him his own phone or a car or something if that seemed to help.

    So the situation now is that he loves that paci, and we should’ve bought stock in Soothies b/c we’ve bought a million of them. He likes it during the day but doesn’t have it in his mouth all the time, but then for sleep it is an all the time thing. The reason we’ve let it go on though is that sometimes he sleeps just fine. He’ll sleep through the night for a bunch of nights. And he’ll have great naps a lot of the time too. And if he’d keep that up I’d let him go to college with it, whatever. But then other nights/naps he wakes up and can’t find it and freaks out, and then sometimes even when he can find it he freaks out anyway and we end up feeding him early or getting him up early from a nap or at 5am just to calm him down.

    So our problems are:
    1. his inconsistency. Sometimes we feel like we’re doing fine, and then he’ll wake up a bunch freaking out and we’re back to thinking that maybe it’s b/c of the paci.

    2. our older son. We’re hesitant to let the baby CIO during the night b/c we don’t want to also wake up our 4 year old (who has night terrors sometimes and doesn’t nap so we just want to get him as much sleep as possible)

    3. Not knowing what the baby’s real issue is: is it teething, is it the paci, is it a growth spurt?? Is he just crazy? ; ) I have a worry that we’re going to take away the one thing that seems to help at least some of the time, and he’s still not going to sleep better.

    So that is my crazy long rambly story, and I’d just love to hear any advice or thoughts. Thank you for this site and your humor, totally helps so much. :)

  50. Hi Alexis, I had a question for you. I have a 3.5 month old formerly veeeeery fussy baby. He recently just started mellowing out a little bit (meaning we no longer feel like he hates us because he can actually be awake now without crying). Putting him to sleep used to be a trial and has slowly gotten a little better. We recently moved him into a crib in the nursery as he was outgrowing the bassinet and hasn’t done too badly in it. He actually doesn’t really like to be held and rocked to sleep very much anymore (started arching and crying when we tried to hold him) so instead we just tightly swaddle, put on white noise and pat him on the chest until he sleeps. Sometimes he would FIO a bit but would settle down and sleep. However, in the past week or so he started this suckling motion with his mouth and can’t seem to settle down. He was never much of a pacifier user before but now seems like he can’t settle without it. This sucking thing is totally new to me and I have no idea what to make of it and am wondering if this is a bad time to have him start using a pacifier as we are approaching the time when object permanence might start to occur. I do not want to trade in one problem for another! I’m going to work soon and don’t relish becoming one of those wake up 10 times a night to reinsert a pacifier moms.

  51. 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!” 😀

  52. 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!!

  53. 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!

  54. 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!

  55. 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?

  56. 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!

  57. 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.

  58. 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.

  59. 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.

  60. 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.

        • 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.

  61. 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.

  62. 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?

  63. 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!

  64. 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!

  65. 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!

  66. 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?

  67. 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 : )

  68. 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!

  69. 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 :)

          • 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!

  70. 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?

  71. 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?

  72. 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!

  73. 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

  74. 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!

  75. 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 :)


  76. 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!

  77. 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?

  78. 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?

  79. 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…

  80. 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!

  81. 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.

  82. 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.

  83. 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).

  84. 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.

  85. 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 :(

  86. 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.

  87. 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!

  88. 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?

  89. 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!

  90. 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!

  91. 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.

  92. 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 :)

  93. 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!

  94. 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???

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

  96. 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?

  97. 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….

  98. 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!!!

  99. 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!!!!)

  100. 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!!!!

  101. It’s been awhile since someone last posted so I’m not sure if you are checking these still…but here’s to throwing a question out there. I CIO with my 6 month old for the past week. The biggest struggle was the loss of the paci. He gradually fell asleep with only a little bit of crying and I’ve been able to get at least 5 hours of sleep – hooray! BUT I went in to check on him and he was sucking his thumb!! :( My question is, is it better to have him suck his thumb or have a paci? I assume the paci b/c I can’t ever take his thumb away… Or is there a way I could not have him have either?

    • Best advice I got: “lighten up. No one goes to college sucking their thumb or pacifier. Let her be a baby.”

      • Not true my sister is going to be 19 and still ends up sticking her thumb in her mouth.. Also my best friend had a teacher in high school who sucked their thumb. She would start talking to you and then stick thumb in mouth.

        • What? WHAT?!?!

          I have never seen an adult sucking their thumb and I can’t imagine a high school teacher who would do so. High school kids are unmerciless and I would imagine a high school teacher who was also a thumbsucker would get get bullied within an inch of their life (not saying this is OK, just that it would happen).

          • I was a thumb sucker until I was 13 yrs old. Go with a paci over thumb ANY DAY simply b/c of the turmoil your child will go through trying to break the habit. It’s something that is done unconsciously, and can absolutely inadvertently happen in public, or at inappropriate times. Not to mention the damage that sucking a thumb does to ones teeth/jaw over time. The way I weaned my kids off of their paci’s was to simply snip the tip off, a week later snip a little more off, and continue until all they have left is to carry the plastic piece around w/them. Turn it into a game and have them tell you how much to snip off. It’ll be tough the first few sleeps, but overall the paci is a security blanket, the point is not to take it away entirely, it’s just to get them to stop sucking on it.

  102. Hi!

    This is my first time checking out this site and I am already hooked! My little girl is 6 months next week and I really want to get out of the habit of using a dummy at nap and bedtime. I am up 10-15 times a night just putting it back in her mouth, she immediately falls back to sleep after but then I’m up doing it again about half an hour later when she stirs. She has never slept through the night not once, sometimes we have good nights when the dummy doesn’t fall out and everyone is happy (she still wakes up 2-5 times) but recently it’s been terrible. We are down to 0-1 feedings a night which is great but now I definitely need to tackle the dummy issue. I do leave her in the daytime during her naps if she has a little moan about the dummy falling out and she does settle herself back to sleep quite quickly. But at night when my husband gets woken up and he has to go to work I seem too quick to put it back in he mouth just to settle her and stop her from chatting / crying. She has a little blanket with a bear attached which she loves to touch her face with so hopefully this is enough. I plan to try to get her to sleep in the day without the dummy and then slowly introduce the same thing at bedtime. Wish me luck! Any advice would be great. I’ll keep you posted!!

    A very tired mum from London, England – Jodie :)

    • Very tired mum in NYC too!! Hang in…..

    • Hi Jodie,

      Just wondering if you have any updates on your mission to ditch the paci??? I’m about to start and I was hoping for some tips

      • Hi Anita, well we are now on day 3 with no dummy and it has changed our lives!! The first day was fine, we did cold turkey so all day there was no dummy for naps and then obviously we had our first night without it. Apart from a 3 minute moan from my little girl about an hour and a half after she went to bed everything went really well. I didn’t go to her when she started this cry because I didn’t want to replace the dummy with me going in to her every time she made a noise. Thankfully the cry didn’t last long and she soon settled herself back to sleep :) The second day we had a bit of a meltdown from her in her afternoon nap and I ended up laying with her on our bed until she fell asleep. I was worried that I had now started something and she would want me to do this all the time, but last night was brilliant. She went in her cot awake but very sleepy, as I placed her down she made a slight noise but then instantly fell to sleep. She seems to settle a lot quicker without the dummy because I’m not watching on the monitor for it to fall out and then going in to her to replace it a million times.

        So day 3 and she just went down for a nap and was asleep in about 4 minutes! It’s brilliant! I hope your little one does well without it, I think we’ve been lucky. I am so glad I don’t have to search around for a dummy day and night! I actually feel like I have slept now which is amazing!!

        Good luck with it, not many tips really but be strong and once you get passed the first day and night, for me the dummy coming back was definitely not an option. You just feel like you’ve made a decision and that’s that :)

        Hope it goes well!! keep me posted! x

        A not so tired mum from London! :)

        • Just a quick update, no cries at all all day during nap times…just put her down awake and 5 minutes later she’s asleep! Amazing!!!!

        • Hi!
          When you took the dummy away on the first nap, did she cry and u just ignored her until she went to sleep? I don’t have the problem of gettin up in the night but it takes 45-60mins to get her to sleep at bedtime because she drifts off and it falls out and she wakes! Just now tho I held her and after 1 minute the dummy started to fall out so I took it out and she is stil asleep…but on me at the moment…I want to be able to put her down awake like we normally do but without the dummy!

          North Devon

        • Brilliant indeed – congratulations No Longer Tired Mum from London!

        • Hi Jodie, I just wanted to say a huge Thankyou for your post. It gave me the courage to stop using a dummy with my daughter who is 6months next week. I was a tired mum from Australia having to go in a replace dummy all night. I went cold turkey, starting during the day naps, she missed on having 2 of her 3 naps as I was determined to not give dummy and no amount of patting was helping. Come bed time she went down earlier than normal, and was so exhausted fell asleep while feeding. When she did wake 5 hours later at midnight for a feed, I was up for 2 hours resettling, but she did fall asleep with some patting. Then at 5am she woke again, took 40min to resettle after feeding. Day sleeps on day 2 was 15min, then 20min then 3 min. Night 2,last night took 45min of settling, she only woke once, quick feed back in cot and not a murmur, straight to sleep. Feeling refreshed and taking dummy away has been great. Thanks again!

  103. Our toddler turns 2 soon. He suffered through a nasty double bout of pneumonia last month, and my primary suspicion is on his pacifier picking up the germs at daycare (he started at daycare just a few months back). Our pediatrician has cautioned us that his immunity will remain poor for a couple of weeks, and that we should be extra careful he doesn’t pick up another bug too soon.

    In our determination to protect him, we took him off the pacifier COLD TURKEY. We were very anxious about how it would turn out, but mercifully his protests have been token so far. It is day 4, and we don’t want to count our chickens too soon, but things are looking good. Based on our experience, I would say don’t be unduly stressed about going cold turkey. Each child is different, and you won’t know until you try.

  104. I get that pacifiers can be a big issue, but not always. My 3rd child would not take them and I wished he would! They can be so convenient for helping baby calm down in the car, when stressed out (like just after getting shots, etc.) and yes…during bedtime. There IS an annoying period of time, a few months where baby cannot put the pacifier back in her mouth and you are up and down replacing it. This happened with my 2nd child. We ended up putting in one of those breathable crib bumpers and then putting pacifiers all over the crib. Worked fine! When we needed to wean her from the pacifier, we poked holes in the end of it and after awhile she was no longer interested in them. Of course some kids get really attached and it takes alot of doing to get rid of pacis. For us though, the easy sleep/calming association that is formed with a pacifier has been worth it. My 4th child is now 9 months old and only uses pacifiers at sleep time and in the car. She nurses to sleep for naps and we make sure there’s 2 or 3 pacis in the crib at naptime and bedtime. She finds them on her own now. I never really had to get up at night to replace them. Of course we had other issues going on at the time! (she slept in a RnP until 5 months)

    Anyway just wanted to say that pacifiers are not all that bad and don’t need to be thrown out as an option completely. JMHO

  105. Hello Alexis

    My beautiful daughter is 8.5 months and thankfully I found you, maybe a little late but better late than never.

    She is breastfed and eating 3 solid meals a day. I am now down to 1 night feed from 3-4. The problem I have created is that I feed her until she falls asleep by 7-7.30pm and when she wakes I put the dummy in and she falls straight back to sleep. But this can happen anywhere between 2-8 times a night. Oh and she may sleep for 10 min to 2 hours for her naps once or twice each day.

    I read your article for how to get rid of the dummy and I am actually trying the pull out method. I have tried it once and she slept from 7.30am – 4.30am then fed her and then she woke at 7.40am (this I believe was an absolute fluke)

    My question to you is can I put her to bed straight after feeding if she is in and out of sleep?
    how long should she be left to cry?
    And also as she gets older and breast milk gets cut out how does one put their baby to sleep?

    By the way she needs to be swaddled as she wakes herself up all the time if she isn’t.

    I know my daughter is not as bad as some of the bubs on here, but I would love to get it under control before she gets older.



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