Menu

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?

MAYBE.

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.

HOWEVER

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:

1

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.

2

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.)

3

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}


273 Comments


  1. 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!!!!

  2. 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.

          • Hi please help me I’m almost at the finish line and don’t know what to do. I started sleep training my girl at 3-4 months and was successful thanks to this site. My one oversight was the pacifier . I failed to wean her in that great 4-5 month window. She is now 6 months and I have started needing to go into her room about 4-5 times a night to reinsert that paci. So we decided before things got worse, to lose that paci. For bedtime we did CIO extinction , 45 min the first night of crying , second night 10 min of crying … Great.

            But the naps haven’t been improving. I’ve resorted to rocking , holding , placing asleep everything but the pacifier to get her to sleep. I read that better success for nighttime cio is a rested baby. It’s like I took a step back in a major way. This child is In Hysterics without that pacifier and it doesn’t seem to be improving. I need advice. Sage advice. Do I give her the paci for naps only? Should I do full extinction cio like nightime? I just don’t know what the best route is. im a little lost on what to do .

            Ps I have all the soothers In place ( dark room, white noise and marketing the lovey) Nap routine is diaper, white noise, sleep sac, dim lights and a few min of cuddles ( by this point is is rubbing her eyes and begging for the pacifier)

          • I knew a woman who sucked her thumb too. But, I’ve only met one. My son is 7 and stopped during the day at 5, and at night by 6. Sometimes at night it’s near his face. My daughter had a binkys till 4 and a half and gave it up on her own.

  3. 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!

          Gemma
          North Devon
          England

        • 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!

        • Jodie Kane: how old is your little one?? We’re having similar issue. My girl slept like a charm, fell asleep on her own when laid her down till about 14 weeks old and then it all fell apart. Frequent night wakings, etc and then we went away for a week and gave the pacifier another try… And now she is hooked so hard! 5 months old, just getting over her first cold (toddler brother) and her sleep needs are no longer just paci but paci + singing + rocking and I’m afraid of what’s next. I could continue along this path till she’s older and no longer needs such help self-soothing or we could get it ALL done this month (aka sleep training sin paci). Don’t want to hurt this poor second child’s sense of security but also don’t want a screaming maniac 8 month old. That is btw the best age to sleep train as per our experience with older son. Old enough to get the routine, young enough that he can’t stand and shake the rails of his crib 🙂 took 3 nights and we have still a great sleeper on our hands!

  4. 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.

  5. 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

    • Poked holes in them -brilliant!

    • They are a big deal when the sucking need ceases but the kids love to chew on them. Our result is a pretty slanted bite. My 2 chew on one side of the mouth and the teeth over there are stunted. Their older sis (5 yrs) who sucks 2 fingers backward (since rejecting paci/dummy at 6 mos) is pushing against the roof of her mouth. Dentist recommends all of them quit. That is why I’m reading around for tips. Now, perhaps braces would be recommended in their future based solely on genetically crooked teeth. But, I have decided to help along any natural shape correction by weaning from paci early. The 1 yr old is having the hardest time relearning how to fall asleep. I can see that we parents will have to establish new and consistent bedtime cues. The teeth and bite are clearly abnormal as compared to sis and the need to eliminate is not a parental over reaction.

  6. 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.

    Thankyou
    Ros

  7. Hi Alexis,

    I just came across your site and I’m not sure if you even check these comments anymore, but I am desperate! My almost 4 month old (in 3 days) hasn’t always been the best sleeper at night but it has been getting progressively worst in the last 2 weeks. She goes down easy between 6 and 7 (with a paci) and will go 3-4 hours then after that is every 1-2. My husband and I are exhausted. From your article, we thought maybe the pacifier was causing a lot of the night waking so we decided to take it away last night cold turkey. She absolutely LOST it. Bedtime wasn’t horrible, maybe 20 mins of crying and soothing, eventually sucked on her hands. But all night it was every 30-60 mins and screaming like crazy. Even though we were in there soothing her (we didn’t let her CIO). So needless to say I feel like a horrible mother that she was so upset. Is she too young?? Is that amount of flipping out normal?? From everything I read it, other babies seem to settle much quicker in the night. It took up to an hour multiple times. Any suggestions? Should we keep it up?? also if I take it away at night, do I have to take it away at naps as well? She used to go to naps great but again starting 1-2 weeks ago has been fighting naps (I guess that’s another story). Thank you!!!!

    • Well I think you’re on the right track – the paci IS the problem. Few thoughts:

      – how can you give her more soothing? If you take it away she’s flipping out. Can you give her some more sustainable soothing option as an alternative? Short-run, what about putting her swaddled in the swing (no paci). That would be a fantastic alternative to either USING the paci or flipping out.

      – Yes you can use the paci for non sleep times or naps if you feel you need to. Naps may also benefit from swaddle + swing.

      Good luck!

      • Hi Alexis,

        You’re blog is great, thx so much. One question: Weisbluth says motionless sleep…do you promise we won’t be starting a new bad habit if we try swing no paci?

        • You asked how to escape the huge meltdown and still get rid of the paci and I gave you a solid plan.

          Weisslbuth says no motion sleep because he doesn’t sleep well that way. Adults also don’t sleep well while swaddled. None of this applies to babies and there is no evidence that it’s poor quality sleep. Will you have to wean off the swing? Yes. Is it easier than the paci? Yes. Poke around my site – I cover weaning off the swing in great detail.

    • Jennifer!

      I’m in a similar situation with my almost 4 month old (though not as bad at night, pretty bad for naps). I’m also not sure if he’s too young to take the paci away so I haven’t tried it yet (I just going back in to replace it, try sh-pat, put my hand on him). Let us know how it’s been the past few days/nights? Did you give her the paci back? Will you try the swing?

      • Thank you so much for responding, Alexis!

        She does go in the swing fine without the pacifier and will fall asleep. She doesn’t use the paci at all accept for naps and bed. We’ve done the swing for naps but not for night time. She does great in her crib, with her pacifier of course. Do you think using the swing would be a step back? Just curious. Also, would it be bad to let her fall asleep with it, but then maybe fuss is out later in the night if she wakes (assuming I know she is not hungry). Or do you think having it in the first place still cause the trouble? Thinking maybe a gradual approach, if there is one!

        Hi Alyssa,
        Nice to hear we aren’t the only ones! We ended up giving her paci the next night because we honestly could not go through seeing her so upset. I’m not sure if we timed it wrong but I’ve never seen her like that. She generally adapts well. I also think it might have been confusing for both of since she is still nursing 3 times a night. We decided to give it a little while longer and try again. Her sucking reflex is still very strong and she goes right down using the paci for naps and bed. Our pediatrician suggested that the extra night wakings could be a growth spurt and we’ve also read a lot about sleep troubles during developmental leaps (wonder weeks) – She has been in one the last 1-2 weeks. All of the sudden she isn’t fighting sleep and the night wakings are getting a little better (a real little :)) If it seems like an issue around 6 months we will revisit – that’s when we will be night weaning if she’s still nursing at night anyway. I’ve tossed and turned stressing about the fact that the paci may be a bad “sleep prop” but in the end my husband and I decided to do what we feel is right at the moment. I think at an older age she may be more developmentally ready to handle not using. But who really knows!! 🙂

        • What’s a step back? You have hugely disrupted sleep that you’ve (I believe) accurately identified as a paci problem. When you tried to take the paci away everything went to crap.

          Now if you stick with the “no paci” plan she’ll figure things out eventually.

          I’m simply saying that the swing will help her learn to sleep without the paci and that you can gently wean her off the swing later. And yes if your goal is “no paci” then no paci it is (not no paci at bedtime but paci at 11 PM).

          Hope that helps – good luck!
          Alexis

        • Hi Jennifer,

          I wanted to give you an update as I know how incredibly frustrating it is to be questioning everything you do regarding sleep. Has it gotten any better for you? We are doing great over here, but it took a little work and a little luck. I decided to take the paci away last week as I just needed to eliminate one possible factor in my son’s inconsistent sleep. I’m bottle feeding so it’s a little easier for me to know that his night wakings were needing soothing vs. hunger and we were just doing one feeding/night and soothing the rest of his wakings. This may have helped us. So when I decided to take the paci away I wasn’t ready to CIO (b/c he’s only turning 5 months tomorrow), so I decided I’d go Baby Whisperer and try shush-pat. I did it for bedtime the first night and he only woke once to eat. Then the next day for naps, which was tough b/c he cried loudly, but I just stayed and did shush-pat and he was asleep after 12 minutes, next nap was 5 minutes and next nap was a bomb that I ended up holding him for (b/c it was that late catnap). Anyway, here’s where we got kind of lucky…I went out for dinner that night so my husband had to put him down for bed. He fussed and cried and wouldn’t go to sleep so my husband ended up just leaving him (b/c he had to tend to my 3 year old). Our baby fell asleep after 20 minutes and slept the whole night through! It was crazy! So we essentially cried it out (well my husband did, not even overthinking it, he just had to leave him to help our older son). So the next day I decided to try it for naps (which is insane, but I figured I’d try). He cried for 12 minutes then asleep, second nap was 3 minutes and 3rd nap was no crying! It’s been a crazy week with some ups and downs, but reading all of Alexis’ blogs and info on CIO and night weaning has helped tremendously. I’ve always been working towards independence in the crib (with a lot of shush-pat) so I think we started in a good place, but I also think we just had to give our baby the chance to figure it out. Last night (a full week later) he slept 10 hours and took 3 good naps today. Sometimes he’ll cry or talk to himself for up 10-15 minutes before falling asleep, but this was the biggest thing I learned from Alexis’ posts…this is totally normal and actually not CIO…some babies just have to cry themselves to sleep for a few minutes. Anyway, I just wanted to share a success story! I can tell you more detail about how each night went (definitely some tough moments) if you want. Also just wanted to wish you good luck! And Alexis if you’re reading: thanks for all your good info throughout this site! Can’t wait to recommend the book to my pregnant friends!

          • Hi Alyssa,
            Thanks so much for sharing your story with me!! I have to admit, we are still having a lot of night wakings. 🙁 She was doing much better and then she got sick and it was all out the window. Some nights she’s only up twice and others it is every 1-2 hours. We are exhausted. She is not a good napper either. Our pediatrician seems to think that she is in an overtired cycle and its causing her restless sleep. So we are really working on naps, but she hates them! She is 5 months and 1 week now, once we hit the 6 month mark we are going to night wean and also do a little sleep training. Controlled crying perhaps. As she gets older I can sense that she is more able to “self-soothe” than she was even a month ago. So happy for you that your LO is sleeping well! Fingers crossed that we can get ours sleeping better very soon! And very nice to hear a success story, thank you again.

            • Hey Jennifer,

              So sorry that you’re still struggling. Things are ok over here, but of course we hit teething and rolling and so it’s all out the window. Well, not totally…at least we don’t have too much issue with him actually going to sleep and he’s still doing ok at night in terms of putting himself back to sleep if he wakes at 1 or 2. However, we are now in a pattern of waking at 5 AM and he used to be able to go back to sleep, but now he won’t. And naps are back to being crap again. I think we’re hitting some wonder weeks as we approach 6 months. Just a reminder that it’s a constant battle for some babies that we just have to keep doing the best we can. Hope you’re seeing a little progress and have gotten out of that over-tired loop…it’s so not fair! Happy New Year and Happy 6 months to your little one!

  8. Alexis, thank you for many great articles tackling THE hardest part of parenthood (for me at least)! At 9 weeks old, our son began sleeping from 6:30pm until anywhere between 1-2:30 am. Awesome! Then he would wake up about 5 and it was really hard to get him back down, but I managed to get him down for another 30 minutes or so. Naps were going well too; 3 naps a day, the first and second about 2 hours each and the third about 30 min to an hour. I used the same routine every night; bath (every other night), diaper, pj’s, swaddle, paci, white noise, feed (if he would), books and rocking, lullaby, crib. It was working well, except for the paci part. We did (and still do) have to go and reinsert the plug every couple hours. Well, 12 weeks came and threw us for a loop! He started waking up at 9 or 10 pm and then it was every 2 hours until 3ish then every half hour. His naps turned to crap naps, only 30 minutes. It was horrible. I hadn’t changed anything in our bedtime routine. I chalked it up to a growth spurt, praying it wouldn’t last long.

    Here we are, 5 weeks later. We’re dealing with multiple night wakings and insomnia. I hope it’s not the “regression” that is common around this time. We tried bumping his bedtime a little later, which helped for two nights, (Last night, he went down at 7 and was awake at 9). Each spare minute I have I am searching for help or reading every book I can. I read Pantley’s book, tried some of her techniques and they are effective, to an extent. But that’s my fault. Sometimes it’s easier to just give him his paci back. I have read Karp’s sleep guide, which is not much help when it comes to weaning the swaddle. He starts off in his crib and then ends up in his rock n play. I’ve tried the swing, which I am going to give another go and see if that will help as far as the motion-need is concerned. I just feel very lost, like we’re backtracking and regressing to the beginning. I feel like we’ve been in this too long already at 5 weeks, and don’t want to think about another 5 if this is a regression. I don’t even know if any of this makes sense, as I don’t know what I’m doing half the time since there’s no such thing as sleep anymore. Do you see anywhere in here that you could give me some pointers? Thank you!

    • P.S. When using the swing, am I to reduce the speed each time, like for every nap and bedtime to place in the crib? Or am I to leave it on high for naps and taper down every few? I just want to do this right. Thank you!

  9. Do you find that for a younger baby (4-5mos) you need to paci wean? Or can you just go cold turkey easily?

  10. My daughter is now 6 months and was sleeping through the night till about 4 1/2-5 months, where she started waking earlier than 6am and then most recently started waking during the night 1-2 times. I currently put her to bed with a pacifier at night and for naps and know that this could be the issue. We just started sleep training where when she would wake up after initially putting her down,we would let her cry it out until she falls asleep without re-inserting the paci. What I’m wondering is, is it ok to still put her to bed at night and down for naps with it or is this confusing her for learning to fall asleep on her own?

    • I would join to Nadine’s question.
      My 5 months old twins can sleep on their own since they were 2 mo. But the paci… I eliminated it for the nights 3 weeks ago and it is really much better (as they wake up only 2x for feeding) but they can still have them on naps.
      My questions are:
      1. when should I decisively eliminate the pacifier for the naps so that they have no awareness that they have it during the naps but no at night?
      2. they unfortunatelly wake up at 5.30 (6.30 pm bedtime), what should I do to keep them till 6.00-6.30 so that this 5.30 wouldn’t be a habit 🙁 and to avoid giving the paci in the morning…
      Sorry for my english, I am from Poland 🙂

  11. Dear Alexis,

    Writing this post makes me so thankful for the Internet. This is coming to you all the way from Singapore! You’d be helping someone in Asia!

    Anyway, my Son just turned 15weeks. We have used the pacifier to get him to sleep since quite early but always pull it out of his mouth once he’s calm and or asleep. Sometimes he even spots it out after falling asleep himself.

    In the last 2 nights, he has really needed his pacifier to get to sleep at night. We have it to him and once he calmed down and started getting droopy eyes, I pulled it out and he started wailing.

    We have a night routine of feed, massage with moisturiser, story, swaddle and kiss. Previously I could put him down in his crib awake and he’d fuss and toss his head side to side a little but go to sleep, but in the last 2 nights he has been CRYING.

    Last night he even needed the paci to go to sleep after his 3am feed, which he has never needed previously. Has he developed an addiction to it to sleep? I read about people whose babies start waking after every sleep cycle for it to be replaced and I am so afraid of him becoming one of those babies.

    For naps it’s the same drill. Sometimes he gets droopy eyed in my arms and I put him in his crib and he goes to sleep but sometimes he fusses abit more (I guess I was late in picking up the tired cues) and needs the paci to calm down. Again, he spits it out or I pull it out after he is asleep. He is able to transition between sleep cycles and do a Long nap without the paci in his mouth about once a day, but other naps are just 30min Long.

    Am I being worried too soon? How can I prevent this from escalating into a sleep association? He loves being swaddled and I believe we are providing him enough sleep cues for night. He does 7pm-7pm with only one 3am feed. I’m just worried about the pacifier becoming a need to sleep through the night.

    Thank you

  12. Lose not loose. Both the link and some of the comment replies use the word loose, which means, “not tight”.

  13. I am at the end of my rope! My daughter just turned six months and ever since she started rolling onto her tummy, sleep has been a nightmare. We had to stop swaddling her because I couldn’t keep her in, and she would roll to her stomach. Since then she has had a lot of trouble soothing herself when she wakes up. She has to have the binky to fall asleep but she constantly takes it out of her own mouth and eventually thrashes so much that all 500 binkies in her crib end up on the outskirts where she can’t reach them.

    My options so far have seemed to be 1) walk upstairs (our master is downstairs) every 5 minutes to reinsert until she falls asleep or 2) let her cry- this consists of her crying and then calming herself over and over for about an hour until she completely loses it.

    Naps are hit and miss. She has a tendency to take an “intermission” 30 minutes in where she then refuses to go back to sleep and then I get her up. 30 minutes awake and I have to put her down again.

    She falls asleep by herself initially, although at night I have to give her a breathing treatment. She usually passes out while I’m giving her the treatment in the rocker.

    HELP! I need to sleep for more than 15 minutes at a time

  14. We have a 5.5 month old who wakes 10-12x/night to re-insert binkie. He is still sleeping in pack and play in our room and we are so exhausted and ready to transfer him to his own room in his crib. Is it too much at once to get rid of binkie and transfer to crib?
    Thanks!

  15. After being introduced to your blog a couple of months ago, I had the courage to take away the paci cold turkey at about 5 months for night time sleep and to introduce cry it out to eliminate sleep associations. This worked pretty well. However, I continued to use the paci and/or bottle feeding to get baby to sleep for nap times. I told myself this was a temporary measure until night time sleep was sorted and I could deal with naps later. The problem is, cry it out has been an on-again off-again success, and sleep is never FULLY sorted. This largely has to do with my own inconsistency, but I am also wondering if offering her a paci for naps is sending a mixed message. Am I sabotaging our sleep efforts by continuing to soothe baby to sleep during nap time, specifically with the paci and/or bottle feeding? Is it pointless to keep waiting for that ‘perfect’ time to sort out naps? Any advice is appreciated!

  16. Hi,

    I have a two year old who has only been using the paci at nap and nighttime for a year. I’m 6mo pregnant and he has been potty training for about a month. He is about 80/20 potty trained but for the most part he’s got it down. He’s also been sleeping in a pack in play in our room for the last month. We really want to wean him from the paci before the new baby arrives and I thought it would be a good time since he doesn’t have tge crib / paci association as strongly right now. But, when I took it at naptime today it didn’t go well. He went to sleep fine without it but woke up 40min later screaming and wouldn’t go back to sleep. I didn’t try it tonight because I don’t want to overwhelm him too much. However, at night (and nap) he falls asleep with it and it falls right out, he’ll wake up once or twice and the same thing happens. He only uses the paci for maybe 30min all night so I would think it would be an easy break, but it’s how he puts himself back to sleep. Is it okay to let 2yr olds cry it out? How long do you let them cry for? Do you think there is too much change going on in his world right now? We didn’t talk much about it to begin with because I didn’t think he would understand but maybe we need to try the paci fairy? My main question is if you think I should wait or go ahead with weaning. Thanks for your help!

  17. Hi Alexis
    Hoping for your help! We have a 3 month old who up until a few weeks ago was napping in her bassinet for 1-2 hours 2 out of her 3 Naps. The last nap I.would wear her because I wanted to hold her as I’m going back to.work soon. Well as of a few weeks ago she does not sleep in her bassinet during the day. I haven’t changed anything. So in order for her to get sleep I’ve been wearing her for almost every nap unless we go for.walla or we are.out. I decided to buy a paci & she crashed after a few mintues. She has now fallen asleep for two Naps with the paci. Its like I replaced wearing her as a soothing mechanism with a paci. She does sleep 7-10 hours in the bassinet at night without a pacifier with no problem. I’m afraid I’m setting up a bad habit in using the paci. I don’t believe in the cryj g out method and don’t know what else to.do. Please help! Thanks

  18. With my daughter, I was initially dead set against a paci. It would interfere with breastfeeding, she’d get hooked on it, yada yada. At 3 weeks I begged my husband to run to the store for one. It worked like a charm. Yes it was annoying to reinsert it until she wasn’t swaddled anymore. But it sure worked. At 1 year, I attempted to take away the pacis, no go. Same at 1.5 years. At 2 years, the pacis all mysteriously disappeared and stayed that way. Way easier than it was for me, a thumb sucker until 7 years old, with a front tooth gap to prove it.

    My son was born with latching problems. A pacifier with a wide base (like Avent Soothies) actually helped him to learn to keep his mouth open on my nipple and maintain a deeper latch. (The pacifiers with a narrow base worsened his latch)

  19. My 2 year old has started sticking her finger in the end of her paci and idk why ? Her tip of her finger stays red , idk what to do I try telling her not to do that but she always does , what should I do ?

  20. Hi there! I took my 4 month old off the pacifier cold turkey yesterday and he is doing great falling asleep on his own! HOWEVER… Now his naps are only 20-30 mins long. My question is, do I let him CIO after he wakes from a short nap? Or just let it be and he will work it out on his own when hes ready? Thanks so much in advance!!

  21. Hi all,

    I’m so glad iv found this thread!! I am at my wits end with my 7mth old baby boy! He was a great sleeper up until about 4mths old – he slept from 7pm til 7am every nite.. for the last 3 months he has started waking about 10 times a night and also thinking its “wake up time” at around 5am!
    He goes down around 7pm and sleeps almost perfectly until about 12 (wakes maybe once or twice).. after that he is awake every hour and I have to reinsert his dummy.. this continues until about 5am until we take him into our bed but still he will not fall back to sleep he just wants to get up!
    My husband and I live in a studio villa and so our baby sleeps in the same room as us – we have no spare room!! My husband works and so I jump up immediately every time baby cries during the night so as hubby’s sleep is as undisturbed as possible!
    I have tried so many options and have exhausted all Google solutions! Iv changed feeds, nap times, bedtimes etc.. nothing has worked. I tried cold turkey with the dummy but he had an absolute meltdown and I couldn’t stand to see him so upset.

    I know this is similar to everyone else’s problems but if anyone has any advice I would love to try something?!?!! We are so exhausted!!! Thankfully I do not have to go to work at the moment so I should count myself very lucky. But still, I’m. Upset that my baby boy isn’t getting a full uninterrupted peaceful nights sleep..

    Thanks, Maddie xx

    • There is no magic juju – the answer is right there. The pacifier must go. Honestly there are a variety of techniques to try to do this gradually but most of them don’t work and generally just draw everything out. I know it’s hard to see him so upset but your options are to continue as is OR make that essential change of not using the paci at night 🙁

  22. Hi all! So glad I found this…like most of you here we are ready to ditch that dummy! Baby girl is 6.5 months and had colic and silent reflux from about 3 weeks. We only gave her a pacifier at 8 weeks and it was like magic our baby who cried most of the day only cried for a few hours a day with the pacifier. However she quickly got very attached and I also knew it would stop her crying was probably too quick to plug in. So here we are 6.5 months and even though dummy time use is just for naps and car rides and through the night she won’t settle without it. But like many of you she wakes at night about 11 times for her pacifier to be replaced. Unfortunately she usually wakes her self with this horrible choking cough (docs have said its prob just teething/ extra saliva but its worrying and I go in to check on her when she does it each time). But tonight we tried the no cry / pull out once nearly asleep method and its 4am…and only had to go in once. I tapped her bum for 60 secs and after a bit of a moan she went to sleep. Fingers crossed she learns to self soothe so we all get a bit more sleep and she isnt dependant on dummy! I think naps will be a challenge but watch this space!!!!

    • 31 hours pacifier free! However only way she settles is if me and her dad tap her on her back and bum. She makes this ayayayayayayaya vibrating sound which is sooo cute then drifts off! She had 3naps lasting half an hour at 10am, 45 mins at 1pm and 1 hour at 4pm and it wasnt too tricky to get her off. For bedtime we did the usual feed of solids at 5.45, sing song and puppets, milk at 6.30, brush teeth, bath at 6.50, massage, brush hair, into sleepsuit and sleep bag and put to bed tapped for 5 mins with ewan dream sheep on and she was asleep at 7.20 she woke back up at 11.45 (4.5 hours) left her but she became very distressed so tapped her bum and she was off in 2mins then at 2.30 ( 3 hours) she was making a panting noise and seemed to be playing but tapped her for 2mins and shes been asleep ever since. Bit undisturbed still and i think i will have at least another 1 wake up before her 7am fees BUT thanks to this site we are still paci free and very proud for not giving in x x

Trackbacks

  1. Why Sleep Training Didn't Work - Precious Little Sleep

Leave a Reply