Weaning Twins Off Pacifiers in 7 Days
I think the #1 moment on my “Grossest Pacifier Moments” list has to be the time we were at the hospital waiting for my sister to deliver her first child. This past August, Joules and Ames were 10 months old and my sister had gone into labor. We drove the twins to go see her in the hospital room while waiting for their baby cousin to be born. It was one of those “flustered” days where nobody was really thinking clearly because we were rushing to go meet a new family member! In the midst of that rush, I only grabbed 2 pacifiers – one for each of the twins (usually I brought extras). Sadly, as soon as we got there, my son dropped his pacifier right onto the dirty, germ-infested hospital floor. I ran it under hot water with soap, but OH, did I still get the shivers when I handed it back to him…
Pacifiers were great for soothing in the beginning, but my husband and I were REALLY ready to get rid of them after a while. From months 9-12, the kids sometimes woke up a couple of times at night just for their pacifiers that dropped between the crib rails onto the ground. This would require one of us to get out of bed at 2 or 3 AM and go give it back to them. We gave the kids 2-3 pacifiers each at bedtime to try to circumvent this issue, but apparently, we have kids that like to throw. In a nutshell, the kids were getting too dependent on them and we were tired of venturing into the dark land of the unknown (aka beneath their cribs) each morning to find this:
If you look online, you’ll find a wide range of ages at which parents ultimately remove the pacifier. Up until 6 months of age, pacifiers have been proven to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. After that, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends weaning from pacifiers at 6-12 months of age as this can prevent ear infections, speech delays, and tooth misalignment. However, many parents use them far past this age for one reason or another.
So, here we are at 13.5 months and we are completely OFF pacifiers after only 1 week of weaning! Woo hoo! When I was getting ready to start weaning them off, I took a poll on my Instagram for advice about how to proceed. Some moms recommended removing pacifiers "cold turkey, while others recommended weaning over time. After getting some extremely helpful tips from several people, I am here to share how we put all of that information together and applied it to our kids.
Before we begin, an important piece of background info to give you context is that we weaned the kids off of bottles/formula and fully onto sippy cups/whole milk all right before 13 months. In other words, the bottle-weaning and pacifier-weaning all happened back-to-back, within the same 3.5-week time-frame from start to finish. While there was a lot of transition happening at the time, I figured there was no time like to present to knock it all out. Before weaning pacifiers, the kids were using them during both naps (one in the morning and one in the afternoon) and at night to sleep.
Here is a day-by-day look at what we did the week we weaned off of pacifiers:
Day 1: Removed pacifiers first from playtime but allowed them to keep pacifiers for both naps and bedtime. I used a lot of distraction techniques to prevent whining during this day and the following several days.
Day 2: Removed pacifiers from morning nap but allowed them to keep pacifiers during the afternoon nap and nighttime. Made sure we continued our sleep routines including blackout shades, white noise, fan on, and rocked them, as needed. At this time, I also added a new stuffed animal into each crib to provide alternative comfort. They cried for 23 minutes until falling asleep for their nap.
Day 3: Removed pacifiers from both naps. Morning nap cry-time: 19 minutes. Afternoon nap cry-time: 9 minutes. I used the “cry it out” approach for naps (although it was hard) from this point forward. Still had pacifiers at night but had a couple of nighttime awakenings for pacifiers falling out of cribs.
Days 4-6: No changes made. Only had pacifiers at night. Morning nap cry-time: 3 minutes. Afternoon nap cry-time: 2 minutes. Both kids started sleeping SO well with no night-time awakenings.
Day 7: Removed pacifiers from bedtime. In other words, we were officially OFF ALL pacifiers! Spent an extra 10 minutes rocking them to sleep that night as we anticipated there to be some difficulty given it was their first night without pacifiers. Cry-time was 15 minutes. Afterwards, the kids slept through the entire night with no awakenings. The next morning before we got out of bed, my husband looked at me and said “Good job. That was all you,” in reference to successfully weaning the twins off of pacifiers and taking back ownership of our sleep! :)
Luckily, these steps got us off pacifiers within 1 week. It wasn’t perfect. And to be honest, it wasn’t enjoyable. There was A LOT of whining and crying — but we got there! The one last step I had in my back pocket (that I didn’t need to use) was to cut off the tips of the pacifiers to remove the suction and ultimately cause the kids to lose interest in sucking. Even though we didn’t use this step, it might be helpful to someone else. And while you should always follow the instructions of your child’s pediatrician, I hope my experience is a helpful example for those that are interested and for those that the timing is right. Happy weaning!!