How can I get my baby to stop using a pacifier?

Q: My 6-month-old baby uses a pacifier at bedtime, but has fallen asleep without it. What's the best way to get rid of it entirely?

A: Since your baby has proven that she can put herself to sleep without her pacifier, now is probably the best time to take it away. The longer you wait, the more dependent she'll become on her binky and the more of a battle it will be to get her to surrender it. Just be sure your baby isn't undergoing any other major transition right now, like teething, starting daycare, or moving to a new home.

To phase out the pacifier, start by simply forgetting it at naptime. If your baby can manage to nap for a few days without her pacifier, then she can probably handle a binky-free bedtime without putting up too much of a fight. If your baby does resist and begins sleeping irregularly, remember that you don't have to take the pacifier away yet. It will only become a problem after age 3, when permanent teeth start to develop.

Originally published in Parents magazine, Updated 2009

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