Please help me get a good night’s sleep and break the pacifier dependence for my baby!
My 4-month-old is pacifier-dependent and wakes up 2-3 times a night because she has lost it out of her mouth. She is not waking because she is hungry. She just needs her attachment! What to do?
How To Break Pacifier Dependence For Baby Gently Or Cold Turkey
I must say that if your baby does not wake up to eat, only for her pacifier, the two of you have done a great job! Most 4 month old babies still need to feed at night.
Since your baby doesn’t eat at night, she might very well learn to sleep better without her pacifier. At around the age of 4 months, the suckling reflex starts to diminsh too. Depending on how dependent your baby is on her pacifier (and on suckling while falling asleep), weaning from the pacifier can be hard or easy. You can’t expect that she will accept it immediately. It might take a few days or more for her to learn a new way to fall asleep.
To help her learn how to fall asleep without the dummy, you can try a tough or a gently way.
Pull the Pacifier Out
The easiest way to go, which might work, is to simply (but gently) pull her pacifier out right after her falling asleep. This way she’ll learn to sleep without the pacifier, which for some babies is enough to help them sleep better. Do this every time she sleeps, day and night, for a week to see if it helps.
If that doesn’t help, she might have to learn how to fall asleep without a pacifier, to make a difference.
Cold Turkey – Take it Away!
In this case, one option is to simply take the pacifier away! Instead of giving her a pacifier, rock her in her crib or stroller or in your arms. You can also stroke her forehead and eyes gently. If she’s content with this relatively fast – great. (You don’t want to have a baby who cries for hours, especially not at night!)
If she is very sad and hard to settle, it might be that she is too dependent on suckling to really cope with this method.
Also, the risk is that your baby will learn to be rocked or patted to go asleep, and will continue to wake up, not for the pacifier, but for being rocked… Try to be as calm as possible with her, changing as little as possible from how she is already used to falling asleep.
A More Gentle Way to Brea the Pacifier Dependece
Another option is to take your time to teach her gently to fall asleep without the pacifier. The below method I’ve learned in Elizabeth Pantley’s excellent book – The No-Cry Sleep Solution. I’ve tried it and it worked for one of my children AND I’ve talked to other moms who are also content with the method. It works great both for pacifiers and nipples. You can read my review of the No-Cry Sleep Solution here.
Here is how to break pacifier dependence in a gentle way:
When you put her to bed (or in your arms or wherever she goes to sleep), I assume with her pacifier, bottler or breast, let her suckle for a while until she is almost asleep. But right before she falls asleep, release whatever is in her mouth. Then press lightly on her cheek to keep her mouth shut. This may sound very weird, but it actually helps the baby to not root for the nipple or pacifier.
She will probably wake up when you do this, and NOT accept it the first few times. Give her the pacifier (or nipple) back and repeat the above process. Do this over and over again until she falls asleep without the pacifier (or nipple). Then continue to do this every time she needs the pacifier (or nipple) for falling asleep.
Eventually, she will learn to fall asleep without suckling, which is great step towards sleeping through the night.
The advantage with Pantley’s method is that you really teach your baby fall asleep in a new way.The disadvantage is that it might take time and that it can be very hard at night to really motivate yourself to continue doing this.
Do you have someone who can help you at night? Being able to share the burden for a week or two would probably be of great help for you.
If Nothing Works…
I must admit that with one of my kids, I gave up and simply put a whole lot of pacifiers in the crib instead, as well as one extra in her hand. She was a bit older than your baby, but it worked for her.
I hope this will give you some ideas on how to help your baby! (And remember, if this all seems like too much trouble to get rid of your baby’s pacifier dependence or if it doesn’t work, your girl is still very young. With such a good start, I bet she’ll sleep through the night soon anyway!)
Good luck, and please let us know about your progress!
More Tips Related To Baby Pacifiers
- Baby using breast as pacifier
- 5 tips to make your infant accept a pacifier
- Safe and healthy use of baby pacifiers
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