39 answers

4 Year Old and a Pacifier

My daughter, now 4, always took a pacifier and she absolutely loved it and was very attached to it. About a month ago, I started cutting off the nipple little by little to wean her from it. She was excited that the hole was getting bigger which meant that she was getting bigger. Now, she isn't sleeping well at all, gets up early and gets into mischief and won't take naps. She was always a wondeful sleeper (now I realize it was probably because of her pacifier) and now her behavior is horrible because of lack of sleep, she is missing almost 4 hours that she was used to and it is definately catching up to her (and us). What should I do? I know she is way too old to have a pacifier anyway (I am totally guilty of not taking it away when she was a baby) and I was excited when it got cut all the way down so she could only hold it in her hand. Of course, then there is the teeth issue too. So, I guess it comes down to the point of actually not having a pacifier and having a sleepy and crabby child or letting her have one. Any advice?

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J.-Don't feel bad - You are NOT a bad mother. My daughter was also 4 when her binky went bye-bye. The only thing that I did that was different was that I laid down by her at night as she cried for it. I just kept trying to say "It will be all right." and "I'm here" along with singing a song. Basically, trying to help her in her sadness, but without anger or frustration and with a little more affection than normal. As for naps, I wasn't able to get her to sleep past 3 1/2, so my only advice would be to have a quiet time in her room with toys/books w/o the binky or to put on a video/favorite show that you watch with her and cuddle. I hope this helps...

Find a favorite stuffed animal or blanky for her to hold through the night. It seems like a "habit" for a hold on something while sleeping. It worked for my son.

She is old enough to understand that big girls don't use pacifiers. Just take them away. Tell her- today there are no more, the cutting the nipple won't work, she is too old and probably too attached.

She is also old enough to know she needs to stay in bed. I would keep enforcing it. She needs to learn how to sleep without it. I bet in a week or two she'll be back to sleeping.

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Well, many/ most won't agree with me..... :) My sons, all in thier late 20's now, had thier pipes beyond 4. Not even sure when they got rid of them anymore. But I know that we did not make a big deal about it. None of them had problems with their teeth, none of them took the pipes to school. I do remember telling one of them when he came home from school, kindergarten, to go get his pipe & blankie ( at that time he would just hold it) & go & watch cartoons in the big chair. I could be sure that meant he would take a nap :) Everyone has to decide for thier child when it is a good time to take it away, or have them give it away. I do remember once when my brother-in-law brought my 2 yr. old niece over for me to babytsit & he told me that we are taking away her pipe today. Well, I put her right in the car & went to Wal-mart for a new one. Not on my watch, was I going to be the one to deal with her getting over it. :)
We have a good time now with the kids. laughing about the pipe thing.... it was not a big deal & you will have many battles, choose them wisely.

1 mom found this helpful

My daughter was 4 when we took hers away too...I think I let her have it way too long...
We put them outside on the porch one day...we were giving them to the baby birdies who needed them more than she did. She was all for it during the day, but as soon as she was tired that night...the cryfest began.
YOU CANNOT give in to it, once they are gone, or else the cry fest will not end, they figure out that if they cry and don't sleep, you'll give them back.
Take them away...and don't give them back, throw them away even so you won't be tempted.
there will be a few sleepless nights, and i noticed my daughter started getting up in the middle of the night again. They need to train themselves to sleep without it, so it does take a little bit.
But it happens...she's 8 now...and still talks about what a good deed she did giving her "binkies" to the baby birdies.

You have to bite the bullet and take the pacifier away completely. There will be a few days of adjustment (you know she'll be ornery) but it will get better. Better to deal with a few days of bad behavior instead of allowing this to continue. Best wishes!

She is old enough to understand that big girls don't use pacifiers. Just take them away. Tell her- today there are no more, the cutting the nipple won't work, she is too old and probably too attached.

She is also old enough to know she needs to stay in bed. I would keep enforcing it. She needs to learn how to sleep without it. I bet in a week or two she'll be back to sleeping.

You may have to put up with this behavior for awhile until she really gets used to not having a pacifier but it should end. Please take the little one away from her pacifier.

My girlfriend's daughter had issues with a blanket. She threw her a big girl's party and one of the things she did was have her bury her blanket in the backyard during the party. A few other kids also brought their baby things. We told them some new baby would get their things and they needed them more. Later, Daddy went out there and dug the things up and put her blanket well hidden with precious momentos in the attic. He knew she'd be back and try to dig it up. And she did, with amazement it was gone! Her mother told her with excitement that there's some little girl that's so happy to have a new blanket and her mom made a big deal about how proud she was of her new big girl. That was about 5 years ago. She's 11 now. I think it worked very well.

Hi J..
I see I am going against the grain on this one..but frankly, I feel there is a reason why some kids just need a comfort item. If you think about it... many adults have a comfort item of some sort...whether it is favorite shoes, a purse, smoking, a particular way we have to have the covers over us at night...whatever. We all have our little rituals that help us settle down in the evening and go to sleep. So, why do we make it such a BIG DEAL when kids need a comfort item?? I don't understand that really.

Most of the paci's these days are not really harmful to the teeth, particularly if they give them up before their permanent teeth come in. Also, I would much rather have my daughter suck a paci then her THUMB which can NOT be taken away ANY time!

My sister used her paci until she was 7. She eventually gave it up on her own. Once she was more then 4 years old, she never took it out of the house and only used it at night when sleeping.

If your daughter needs it... why create a drama issue for yourself? If she will accept something else to comfort her...then great. Otherwise, honestly...WHAT is the big deal? If she only uses it at night or naps.... is there REALLY any harm? Or is it a matter of everyone else says that she is too old for it. To those people ... I say ... then you give up something you believe you NEED to have each day... morning cup of coffee perhaps?

If she is completely without the pacifier already, then maybe she could write a letter to the binky fairy about how hard it is and the binky fairy can bring her something special to help make it easier (doll, toy or blanket-i would suggest a really small one)and buy 2 or 3 of whatever it is to keep in your closet so you can switch them out and will have a replacement if one of them gets lost. You might want to switch them regularly so that they get worn in, in the same way.

If she isn't completely without them, then have her box them up and leave on the from doorstep for the fairy to come and take and leave something special. Good luck.

Hi J.,
I, personally, don't think there is anything wrong with pacifiers. Accordingly to my Pediatrician, as well as my dentist, as long as they get rid of it when there permanent teeth come in, they cause absolutely no problems. So, I let my son keep his until her lost his first tooth at age 7. He only used it at night and frankly only sucked on it for a few min to fall asleep and it fell out. I didn't see any reason to traumatize him by taking it away if it did no harm. The day he lost the first tooth, he slept with it one more night and then handed it over without any problems. Today he is nine, has perfectly straight teeth and no side effects. So, I would give her back her pacifier. She obviously needs it to comfort her and what is wrong with that??? Do we have to always push them to grow up so fast...let them be little.....
Good luck and don't let anyone make you feel bad because you let her have a pacifier. There's nothing wrong with it!!!!
About me:
I am a SAHM of 3, ages 9.7.3.

I have four wonderful children. I know all about the pacifier with my last one. He wouldn't even get through the day without having it in his mouth. When he was one I took it away as well as the bottle. I think if you replace it with something else she might be okay. I replaced my sons pacifier with one of those really soft fleece blanket. I would rather him want a blanket and carry that around then a pacifier. He can't really go to sleep without it. I know that you may feel guilty but that will pass. She will get used to not having the pacifier. It took my son a week. That was the most awful week ever and I just took it away cold turkey. It was a security to your daughter. All kids pick something and hers was the pacifier. If you could find anything for her to get attached too, she will probably forget about it. You could even try getting her a favorite baby doll. Let her pick something out at the store that she really likes and tell her because she is a big girl this is her reward for no more pacifier. I know that sounds like you are giving in but the benefit of getting sleep for her, you, and your husband are worth it. I hope that I was a little help to you.

Hi J.,

I wouldn't give the pacifier back. My son was 3 when we finally got his away from him and he's going to be 4 this week.

As far as the sleep goes, I think it's just a phase. She will get used to not having the pacifier and get back into a good sleep pattern again. Everything takes time. If she is being grumpy because of less sleep then she obviously needs more. As far as refusing to take naps, I would make her if you really feel she needs one. Remind her that you are the mom, not her and that what you say goes. No room for negotiations. Let her have one stuffed toy and one book to look at while lying in bed and that's it. Tell her that it's quiet time and she doesn't have to sleep but she has to lie there and be quiet until you come and get her to get up. I guarentee she'll get bored and fall asleep eventually.

Remember to stay strong and don't give in. Keep telling yourself that you are the parent, not her. Good Luck! I know it's hard. It was hard for us too but once it was gone, our son never looked back.

Find a favorite stuffed animal or blanky for her to hold through the night. It seems like a "habit" for a hold on something while sleeping. It worked for my son.

I had someone tell me about doing this to get their child to give up the bottle. I'm sure you could do it for a pacifier.

They had a friend ask where they keep the bottles and set up a time & day for them to come over. They told the child that one day the "bottle fairy" was coming to get all the bottles because they had out grown them. Sure enough, one day the door bell rang, in walked the "fairy" who went right to the cupboard. They dumped all the bottles into the "fairy bag" and out the door. Their child never asked about the bottles again.

Hope this helps

Super nanny had a cute idea, to get the child excited about the Binkey faries in my case and send them in the mail to the faries then in the morning there is glitter and confetti and a little present from the binkey faries addressed to the child, thought it might work I wish I would have known 5 years ago. Good Luck

I personally feel like once a child is walking he or she should no longer take a pacifier. That was my rule with my son because I know they can become reliant on it. I would say tough it out it will turn around for the better sooner than later! Try singing to her while trying to give her a nap or reading her a book, something that may provide that calming feeling. We use a sound machine that sounds like a waterfall. Also if their isn't a routine in place then try to create one and stick with it whenever it comes to naps and bedtime. Good luck and it will get better but do not just give up and give in!

I have twin daughters 9 years old. I only took the pacifier away when the dentist and pediatrician said it was time. I cut down the immediate access to only bed time, and it just left. As far as the sleep, I always read to them, I just had to increase my reading time, which I just started earlier.

The crabby sleepy will leave, just try to remind yourself this will pass. If she never took naps it will be difficult to start, however, resting with a book and quite time is a must.

In the beginning you will have to lead her back to her bed with no discussion, try hard not to feed into her wanting to engage you in conversation of any kind.

I am not a big one on substituting one dependency for another,
Good Luck

Good Luck

Hi when we took my son off the pacifier we took him to the store and bought him a small teddy bear that help him to have some thing to hold on to while he slept and around the house. I let him know that this is what big boys use instead of the pacifier he only ask for it a couple of times and that was it. He is four now and he still carrys the bear around the house and when we go away.

I have no experience with this but one thing I've learned is this: Most things are just phases, transitional periods. You think it's going to go on forever, but before you know it, it's over. She'll probably go back to sleeping better once she gets used to the no pacifier thing.

You are right to take it away. Eventhough it would have been easier on everyone if you had done it when she was smaller, better late than never. I have a hygenist friend who tells me how bad it is for their teeth, like sucking a thumb (but a thumb is worse). My advice to you would be to try and find something else that she can cling to, like a special baby doll. My daughter (4) has her "blue baby" that she's had since she was 1 and it is her most prized possesion. She has trouble sleeping without it. But b/c she's for sleeping, we don't let her drag her around the house or out of the house, unless she's sleeping over at nana's. She did have a pacifier as well. We started nipping the end off when she was about 18 mths and she gave it up on her own. Our rule was that the paci had to stay in the crib. It was only for naps and bedtime. We had a special little place that where we put it in her bed and let her take it if she wanted it. We didn't give it to her. If she doesn't have a special item right now, take her out to find one and make a big deal out of it, so that she understands the importance of this new special friend. Let us know how it goes for you.

Good for you for taking away the pacifier. It's one of the hardest things (next to potty training) that a parent needs to do. However, your daughter is now lacking a lovey. If she doesn't currently have another lovey (blanket or bear, etc.) get her one. Let her go the store and pick one out. My biggest suggestions, she can take it to bed, anywhere in the house, & in the car, but NOT outside of the car. My daughters bear is not allowed in the stores or even at daycare. It makes it much easier to deal with some separation, it keeps the bear cleaner, & we don't worry about it getting lost. It was a life saver when the "binky" went away. Good luck!

Well. I don't remember when my kids gave up the pacifier. But I never heard of it hurting the teeth?

They usually give it up when they don't need it anymore. I know a thumb sucker is much worse. Pushes the teeth forward.

My kids had a pacifier and blanket when they went to bed. they use to rub the satin on their face.

As long is it's only at nap time, I really don't see the harm.
Did your Ped ask you to take it away?

I don't know... If they aren't taking it into public I guess it really wouldn't bother me. Maybe it's soothing to them.

How about a warm glass of milk before they go to bed?
Warm bath?
That always put's me to sleep.

I remember blow drying my kids hair... i loved watching them warble about...

and sometimes its a matter of it taking a while to get past. Have you tried laying with her to put her to sleep. rubbing her back, hair..etc. Something soothing. Maybe a relaxation tape, like they use in massage.

Just a thought.

I too was guilty of letting my girls [triplets] use their passy until they were 4. They are 4 and 4 months now. The first month sucked [no pun intended], they didn't sleep either. And I was very lucky that they did still nap. Most of my friends said "they nap and they are 4...wowo you are lucky". Well after about a month [which it take 28 days to make or break any habit] it got better. Since the passy is just for security, I let them pick something else...teddy or blanket. I Never let them take those items out of their room. Not even to different parts of the house. I didn't want a new habit like taking teddy to Target or something. It was a tough road, but worth it. I too thought about the teeth, but do give in. It is really harder on you than her. If she is tired enough she will sleep whenever or whereever. Just be consistant in what you do. I beleive in you, so Good Luck and don't give up. You'll feel you've made a difference when it is all said and done.

I imagine you've tried giving her something to cuddle at night. I'm sure she will adjust in time. Whatever you do, don't go back to the pacifier and don't let this happen with your baby! She has to grow out of this stage, and she will! Talk to her about it and try to negotiate something that will help her get back to sleep - one of those stuffed animals/dolls that you can record a message into, a special big girl doll or animal who can be her bed buddy, some kind of soft music next to her bed etc. This too shall pass!

G. B.

Four years old is actually about the time most kids give up naps (mine were three) so I think that is probably a coincidence. Does she get enough exercise? Hopefully if she is tired out in the day and doesn't have a nap, she will go to bed early (been there....paying for braces now because of it)

Hello M.,
Not to souund mean but a 4yr old can understand if you were to take the pacifier from her. You need to enforce the "NO" rule and if she asks why tell her you are the parent and what you say goes. Im a single mother of a 3yr old girl and she is at that age where starting to question my authority. I tell she will be told what and when to do things and not the other way around.

I also have a 4 yr old with a pacifier. I tried to take it away this summer and after 8 days of four hours of sleep total per day I gave it back. Many who have not tried it critize you but do what you can live with. Many children suck their thumbs until 1st or 2nd grade. Your little girl will not be taking her pacifier to college. Make a rule that it lives in her bed and she'll eventually give it up when she is ready. She won't want to take it to sleepovers or when she starts realizing other kids don't have them. Good luck.

You are not alone. My fist was free of the pacifier around 1 yr of age. My 4 year old still sleeps with one. We don't leave the house with it and if we are not sleeping we don't have it. I look at as " he will not be an axe murderer for having a pacifier till when ever. " It is doing nothing to his teeth. It is his security. It is no different than a blanket, stuffed animal but not acceptable by society. I need to sleep or i get headaches. Go for the sleep. This to will come to pass.

Stick with it, there is bound to be an adjustment period while she gets used to putting herself back to sleep without the pacifier. The recent time change can also effect childrens sleep habits. I always found with my 3 that if I stuck to my word, got them outside and got excercise after dinner, then a warm bath, my kids eventually went back to their original habits. Granted I have a 15 yr old who has never needed a lot of sleep-I've even asked my peds dr and he said she just doesnt need the sleep. My other two are great. Be persisitant-dont go back now you'll just have to do it all over again, later. You can do it, good luck

My older two were both pacifier users and they both had them until they were in school, preschool and kindergarten. They are only 20 months apart so they gave them up at the same time. One was 4 and one was 6. I didn't bother to force them to give it up because it just happened naturally for them. I say let her have it if she wants it. Eventually she'll decide it's time to get rid of it and your little angel won't be so little anymore.

Good luck - S.

Hi J.,

I think that you should give yourself a pat on the back, for recognizing that your daughter is getting too old for a pacifier. Trust me, I know that it is hard right now, but she'll adjust. Just keep encouraging to do big girl things, and let her know how proud of her that you are. As for naps, try making it a regular part of all your day. Tell your daughter it's time for us to take "our rest". Good luck to you.


Perhaps she is old enough to not need any naps. I discovered that when my daughter was two, she no longer needed a nap. So instead of struggling with her to nap, we just put her to bed earlier and she has been sleeping great for the past year. You may also try to replace her pacifier with a favorite doll or stuffed animal to hold on to when you put her to bed. Good luck!

When my daughter was little I offered her a pacifier when she had trouble sleeping but she refused it. However at about 1 year she started to suck her thumb. She continued to do this until about the time she started to school and she just naturally stopped. We did not make a big thing about it and it did not affect her teeth. However my son took a pacifier early on and I would not even consider takeing it away from him as he had so many allergies and problems with food. however when he was about 2 1/2 we were in the military in Germany and the dentist said that the pacifier was affecting his teeth and we took it away from him and it did not bother him at all. He continued to take wonderful naps and sleep ok in the night. With all the allergies and no one to tell us what they were he did not sleep well. I remember the first night he slept through the night he was 3 years old and I woke in the morning and ran to his bedroom as I thought he must be dead but he was just laying there sleeping peacefully. And we never did know exactly what his allergies were but could identify ones like chocolate. And when he was in high school we took him to an allergist and was tested and took shots for three years. He has had allergies pop up even today but he has medicine for them now. J. N

I think you know that you probably should've taken it away years ago. She has a sleep assocciation with her pacifier. My advice to you is good luck. I think you might have to deal with these sleepless nights for awhile and things WILL get better. They always do. It's just going to be a bumpy road with a 4 year old that is already set in her ways. You could give her something like a blanket to go to b ed with if things are very bad but again that will turn into another habit!!! Good Luck

May I ask how long its been since she has been without it? If its only been a couple of days then I think your going to have to wait it out. My son had different sleeping habits after we gave his up but they went back to normal after a while. Its just an adjustment for them. As for the naps they probably wont come back. They get to a certain age and realize they just want to play all day. My son mostly naps in the car. Once in a great while he will fall asleep on the couch watching a movie, but bed naps went bye bye with his pacifier.

J.-Don't feel bad - You are NOT a bad mother. My daughter was also 4 when her binky went bye-bye. The only thing that I did that was different was that I laid down by her at night as she cried for it. I just kept trying to say "It will be all right." and "I'm here" along with singing a song. Basically, trying to help her in her sadness, but without anger or frustration and with a little more affection than normal. As for naps, I wasn't able to get her to sleep past 3 1/2, so my only advice would be to have a quiet time in her room with toys/books w/o the binky or to put on a video/favorite show that you watch with her and cuddle. I hope this helps...

Hi, J. D.

If you have not tried something like this it may be useful. Put all of her pacifiers in an envelope and seal. Tell her that the pacifier fairy is going to take them to another little girl that needs them worse than she does. Put them in the mailbox so she can see they are going. Hopefully she will forget about them as long as they are out of sight.

Anything is worth a try. It is so unbeliveable how we can create such little monsters with our children. I know I have a 3 year old daugther.

Good luck, M. H.

My daughter now 18 year had a pacifier until age 5 or 6 she went through physical withdraws from us taking it. She broke out in hives had many sleepless nights. We would just hold her and rock her It was a very diffucult time. It did take weeks before her symptoms were releived. The good news is she did get over it. May God Bless you both with the strength to get through this.
C. Pyle

Hi J., I was watching the Nanny on televison a few weeks ago and she had an episode about a child who needed to give up the passi. So she made a big deal about a "passi fairy" that was coming around to collect the passies. They got a manila envelope and decorated it with lots of colors, stickers, markers etc.. and they put it in the mail box in the evening. Again made a big deal about giving away the passi to other children etc. Then in the morning the child went outside and the mailbox was all decorated with shiney sparkly bows,feathers, ribbons and some confetti and inside was an envelope with a thank you letter and a nice gift for the child. I though this was smart because it was exciting to the child as well as it let them kind of be in charge of letting it go in a positive way. You can make up your own story but it may give your child a positive way to give it up with some ceremony. Just an idea. good luck.

PS I saw a child who was (Im not lying) 7 or 8 years old walking through Target the other day WITH a Pacci!! It looked terrible so its a good idea to get rid of it now:)

I don't want to sound harsh, but substituting one bad habit for another is not the way. You have given your child a dependency on objects. She will learn to self sooth. If you miss a few hours of sleep, it will not be your last. As far as her acting out, she is becoming that independent big 4 yo girl that she needs to become for school that will be coming up soon. She is testing you and your husband on how far she can push you to get her way. Hang tuff, be firm and tell her she is not allowed to have it. Repetiveness. At night or naps, walk her back to her bed WITHOUT talking to her and lay her down, no matter how many trips it takes. She will learn and respect you as the ADULT. The fits will become less and the next battle that comes up will be easier. She will learn that you and your husband mean what you say. This will help you when she is older. Good Luck. B. Mother of two 13, 9. Wife of 17yrs.

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