Is your baby waking you up every hour needing you to replug their pacifier? It may be time to decide if the pacifier has become a sleep crutch and determine the best solution to eliminate these night wakings. The options I will review below include:
- Keep the Pacifier
- Keep the Pacifier for Naptime Only
- Wean the Pacifier Completely
Keep the Pacifier
Somewhere between 6-8 months, babies become much more proficient in picking up and grasping objects. If you are looking to keep the pacifier, but want to avoid re-plugging it multiple times, you’ll have to begin teaching your baby how to insert it back into their mouth themselves. Start by sprinkling multiple pacifiers throughout the crib before bed and put down your child drowsy, but awake with their pacifier. If it falls out and they cry out for your help to replug, enter the room and guide their hand to an available pacifier and then guide their hand with the pacifier into their mouth. It will take some patience and consistency to help teach this skill, but doing this will help avoid wake-up calls in the middle of the night.
You can also choose to keep the pacifier for only naptime as it can be more difficult for baby to settle into sleep during the day. As I have seen with coaching families and babies, using a pacifier for naps or relying on a sleep crutch during the day rarely interrupts progress at nighttime and can be a strategy to ensure that your child is getting enough sleep during the day. Again, you will want to continue to work on helping your baby learn how to replug the pacifier themselves and putting themselves to sleep by ensuring they are put in their crib drowsy but awake.
Weaning the Pacifier
Weaning is actually a very gentle word since there really is not way to wean the pacifier. It’s either in your child’s mouth or not and unfortunately there is not gradual way to remove it. Pick a night that you are ready to provide extra soothing and work beforehand to introduce a lovey to see if they will bond to a different object to provide comfort. Pick a day that your child has gotten a good amount of daytime sleep to ensure they are not overtired going in to bedtime. Make sure you are 100% consistent in your response because if you cave after an hour of crying and give them the pacifier, you will have to start all over again (and possibly be teaching them the longer the cry, they will get the pacifier back!).
Whatever route you choose for you and your child, provide consistency in your response and get ready to kiss the endless nights of re-plugging the pacifier goodbye!