Anyone Used Extinction Method with the Pacifier??

Updated on July 21, 2010
A.L. asks from Placentia, CA
21 answers

I have a baby who LOVES her pacifier. It has gotten to the point were it is disrupting her sleep at night (waking up every hour looking for it) and my ped recommended weaning her. My daughter just turned 4 months old so she is at an appropriate age to sleep train. During the night she will fall asleep but I'm having problems with her naps. She will cry and cry and cry. It was recommended to let her cry as long as it takes to get her to fall asleep even up to 2 hours. Do you think I should let her cry for a set period of time and then get her up and try again later??? Has anyone else tried to sleep train with taking away the pacifier?? I should mention I nurse before I put her down and her room is dark with white noise in the background.
PS I am NOT looking for your opinion on CIO method. I am looking for anyone's experience with taking away the pacifier earlier rather than later. Again, the pacifier IS a problem for my child since she can NOT stay asleep for even an hour of the night . She needs consolidated sleep and taking away the pacifier is the best option.

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So What Happened?

Let me begin by saying I have nothing against the pacifier ( I only started to have issues with the pacifier once it began to hurt my child rather than help her) and I have found that 4 months is not to young for her to learn how to sleep on her own. I decided to stick with taking away the pacifier and after 3 days I'm so happy I did! It was the best decision I have ever made. My precious baby will now sleep through the night only waking to nurse 2-3 times. The absolute best part is she is now a HAPPY baby! I can't believe how much she has changed. No more fussing all day and crying on and off. She is finally rested! My goal was to have a happy healthy child not to simply have her sleep for a set period of time. By taking away her pacifier I ultimately HELPED (not hurt) her learn how to have consolidated sleep on her own (not cruel as some of you would infer). The plan that worked for us was to have the same sleep routine she had before but to simply do it all without the pacifier. For naps I only let her cry for half an hour then got her up and would try again in a half an hour. The second time around she would drift right off. For evenings I didn't have a set period on her cry time but she usually just fussed/complained on and off for an hour. Now, she usually doesn't fuss more than 10-15 minutes. Thanks for all the well meaning advice. We're now well on our way to happy sleep habits.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I had the same situation with my daughter and took it away at 6 months. After a few nights of crying it was forgotten....

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answers from Kansas City on

My kids were binky babies and they turned out just fine. I think four months is a little young to take it away, especially if she loves it so much. We used to put extras in the bed at night and surprisingly, it worked!

If you are concerned about pacifier use, keep it contained to the bed only. My kids only got their binky at nap and bed time. It actually made getting them into bed easier because they looked forward to having binky time!

Two hours is much too long for a four month old to cry. Give her another month or two and then start your training. I know it's hard right now, but she's a baby for such a short amount of time - this phase will be over before you know it!! Good luck and keep us posted!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Gainesville on

Ummm....4 months is not the appropriate age to begin that kind of sleep training (personally I don't think there is an age appropriate for any type of cry it out method). Even Dr. Ferber (whose method is often referred to as cio) believes it should begin around 6 months. You are right not to be ok with an infant crying for up to TWO hours. That is absolutely insane in my book. I could never stand on the other side of the door and allow that to happen. There are far kinder and gentler ways to teach baby to sleep. Check into Dr. Sears Baby Sleep Book, The No-Cry Sleep Solution and The Baby Whisperer. They will all teach you tips and tricks and how baby sleep works. Once you understand that it will make formulating a sleep plan for your baby much easier.

She is 4 months old! Give her the pacifier. Why flood her system with stress hormones and have to listen to her wail!? And yes, she will eventually learn to sleep without it. Try putting several pacifiers in her crib where she can easily get to them. My kids were never much on pacifiers but I have heard of other moms doing that trick.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I have to say that I do NOT believe in CIO. I think it's cruel. I also think that "sleep training" sounds like something you do with a dog, not a child. So any advice I can offer is going to be slanted in the direction of my own experience. However, I've also heard that 6mo is the age you want to start if you do choose CIO. I thought 4mo was too young still.

I just wanted to give you another opinion since you say things like "it was recommended" etc... is this a decision YOU made or is it something you think you HAVE to do? I'm here to tell you that I co-sleep and attachment parent my kids and they have healthy sleep habits. Sure my 2yo still crawls into bed with us in the middle of the night, but he's right on track to voluntarily give it up soon just like his brother did. My older son sleeps very well in his own room in his own bed now. I believe in soothing babies to sleep. I personally think that forcing an infant to cry it out is insane. They are crying for a reason. Expecting them to emotionally mature on their own and learn to "self-soothe" AT THIS AGE is total bunk, IMHO. The only thing this accomplishes is to teach them that mom isn't going to be there when they need her and that they should just give up and learn to be lonely. They fall asleep because of exhaustion and despair, not because they've learned to "self-soothe."

I co-sleep and my boys are very well adjusted kids. They are emotionally stable and very happy. Co-sleeping does not have any negative side-effects so what have you got to lose by trying it?

Some people swear by CIO and some, like me, would never consider doing it to our children. It's a personal decision every parent has to make for themselves. I just hope that it is a decision you made for yourself and not because other people told you that you had to.

I recommend trying attachment parenting and co-sleeping. Especially since you're breastfeeding. They go hand in hand truly. I think if you try co-sleeping you'll never want to go back. It's so much easier if you're nursing. You get so much more sleep. I think your daughter is so attached to her paci because she feels a need to be attached to SOMETHING. It's actually strange because most breastfed babies I've ever seen or heard about don't generally take to a pacifier at all. Maybe you should consider letting her become attached to YOU... I don't think you'll ever regret it. There's really nothing sweeter than your baby falling asleep with your hair or finger grasped in their chubby little fist. It's natural and so good for them too.

Just food for thought.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I think it might be too much to try to sleep train and wean off a pacifier at the same time for a 4 month old. What worked for me with both of my kids is to swaddle them tightly for naps and bedtime. I would tight swaddle them and then give them their last feeding of the day or the one right before a nap and when the bottle was finished give them a pacifier.

Once asleep (still tight swaddled) I would place them on their side in their crib in between the propping triangles and they would stay sound asleep all night or for 1 1/2 - 3 hours for a nap.

My son would spit out the pacifier when he was ready but my daughter went through a phase where if she spit it out she would wake in the night wanting it again so I would simply put it back in for her and sleep would resume. I swaddled both of my children until about 5-6 months of age. My daughter heavily used a pacifier until she was 2 and then we cold turkey took them away. My son is not so in love with them so we will see how it goes (he is 7 months).

I put the method of the 5S's from the book "Happiest Baby on the Block" to work with both of my kids from day 1 and achieved sleeping through the night around 2 months with both of them. i do not think it is too late to try it with your 4 month old.


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answers from Chicago on

I would not let a infant under the age of one cry any longer then 20 mins ever for any reason. They lived inside a very noisy place for 9 months it will take at least that long to get used to the idea of being totally alone in a very quiet place. As for the pacifier do what you think is best for your baby. She may have a very strong oral need to suck. Good Luck !

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answers from Boston on

I agree, 2 hours is a very long time for a 4 month old to cry. I do believe in sleep training/CIO, although you'll probably get a bunch of posts that beat you up about it. I don't think it's a bad thing, but I do think she's a little young.

My advice? Give up on the sleep training for now, let her have the paci. In my opinion, it's much much better for her to associate sleep with being comfortable and relaxed then something that's a struggle. Then either sleep train in a couple of months when she's not as attached to the paci or when she can move around enough to find it herself in her crib. You might find that you don't have to sleep train once she can find it, because it will enable her to self-soothe already (that's what happened with my son and his thumb).

It's very easy to lose perspective, so I don't mean this in a mean way at all, but relax, yes, she will learn to sleep without it. She's only 4 months old. You were pregnant for more than twice as long! 4 months is very little. At some point several years down the line this will seem like nothing more than a blip.

Good luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Just my opinion, but 4 months seems a little young to take away the bink. Also, if you are planning to "sleep train". the paci will probably be a great tool for her to self soothe. I would maybe hold off on "extinction" and resurrect the binky! :)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Barbara on

Your daughter LOVES her pacifer because she is trying to self sooth herself. If you are letting her cry for 2 hours at 4 months, no wonder she is hyper vigilant about her "soothing" item. I know many peds recommend the crying method but if you put yourself in your baby's place, try to pretend to feel like her, you will easily come to the conclusion that crying for 2 hours is not okay. You are teaching her that someone may come when she's in need or maybe not. How scary for her. Please go get the book "The Happiest Baby on the Block". It absolutely will help you help your child. I know you are exhausted but this phase doesn't last long and you don't get any do overs. (as for the pacifer, leave 5 or 6 in her bed next to her, add short ribbon to make them easier to grab - once she feels "safe",she won't "need" them so badly) Also have you tried an exercise ball instead of rocking? Some babies prefer gentle bouncing vs. rocking. The balls are great because you can do both. How about a sling? My daughter learned to nap starting in the sling where she felt secure. Is your daughter not wanting to take both naps or just one? Perhaps you are not accurately judging her natural rythmn for naptime. My daughters timing was 9:45 and 1:00 but my son was 10:30 and 2:00. If I tried to put them down at other times, it was always a struggle. Please go get the book and I wish you all the best.



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answers from Raleigh on

Two things. One, let your sweet little girl have her paci. At 4 months old, she still probably has the need to suck on something. My son had his during bed/nap time until he was 3, and he was perfectly fine! Two, don't let any of the moms on here discourage you from trying the CIO method. While it may not work for everyone, my son started sleeping through the night at 5 months old (he didn't ever cry more than 20 minutes at a time though), and still sleeps contently now. He doesn't have any "issues" because my hubby and I forced him to self-soothe. He is a happy, content child who sleeps more than the kids I know that were co-sleepers! If YOU want to try the CIO method, don't let anyone on here tell you how horrible it was a God send to my hubby and I!

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answers from San Diego on

I have a 2.5 year old and a 6 month old- I took the pacifier away from both of them at 3 months. I too couldn't handle the waking every hour during the night to give them back the pacifier and I believe 3 month olds are capable of sleeping atleast 7-8 hours. With my first it only took 2 days for her to start sleeping through the night and the longest she cried was 45 minutes. My 6 month old took a little longer (2 weeks!) and cried or up to 2 hours:( It was definitely hard to hear that but she now sleeps 12-13 hours at night, without waking! And I am a well rested mom who is no longer cranky! Good luck! Let us know how it goes.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

4 months is a little young to take away the pacifier. There is no harm in her having a paci at this age. And taking away a self soothing method while trying to sleep train is a bit cruel.

FYI-At 4 months most babies shake up their sleep patterns(check out Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Weissbluth----I still use this for my preschooler). As for CIO-I am not a fan BUT since you are DO NOT let her cry for more than an 45min to an hour. After that it is counter-productive.

Listen we all know that you are exhausted, all of us have been there. But sometimes you have to follow your baby's lead. If she needs something to suck on then let her have it. Or if she still needs to be swaddled then do it. If she isn't ready to be sleep trained(she is only 4 months old after all) you might need to stop and try again when she is a bit older.

GL and remember this too shall pass.

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answers from Cincinnati on

I began sleep-training at 4 months, too, but I think it's too young to throw CIO into the mix. We began using the CIO method closer to 8 months (yes, you can begin sleep-training without it) and it worked beautifully. But I doubt it would have worked at 4 months. And I'm surprised that it was recommended you nix the pacifier at this age. This is still an age where sucking is very important. My son still has his at 17-months and my pediatrician is not concerned. She has even said I shouldn't stress myself out about it just yet. If you decide to stick to it, I think you'll have your work cut out for you. Otherwise, I recommend you tackle one hurdle at a time - either the paci or the sleep training, but not both at once.



answers from Los Angeles on

I was dealing with getting up several times a night to put the binky back in my little girl's mouth recently. Once she was almost 6 months old she learned how to find a binky (one of the many binkies I have laying around her crib when she sleeps) and put in her mouth on her own. I never let her fully CIO b/c she's like yours...would probably cry 2 hours or more! I was going 5 minutes and then going in and putting her binky back in her mouth. Give her some time to see if she can figure it out. little girl is really into her binky. I figured I had to options...go through hell/CIO weaning her from it or wait just a little longer until she was about 6 months old and could developmentally put it back in her own mouth. She is 6.5 months old, still has a binky, wakes up a few times during the night but puts the binky back in her mouth on her own and goes right back to sleep (unless she has moved so much and can't find one). She is sleeping from 7pm to 5am now. She still will sometimes get fussy when I put her down for naps/bedtime but all babies do that for awhile. I just let her cry and go in a few times to put the binky back in and within 5 min she's asleep. I'm glad I chose to deal w/ getting rid of the binky later.
Be careful of putting your baby down already's better to handle that early than later. Also, maybe her naps are too late? She should be taking at least 3 naps a day and anywhere from 30 minutes to whatever. If they are overtired it leads to sleep disruption. At 4 months I was just trying to get some kind of a schedule loosely formed. Mine usually woke up at 5 so I'd have her 1st nap around 7:30 then 2nd nap 10:30 then last nap 1:30/2ish and then bedtime at 5:30. As she got older I moved bedtime back in slow 15 min increments - she now goes to bed at 6:45 and wakes up around 6. So naps basically by every 3rd hour of the day.
Sorry for rambling on...thought you could use some more info. Good luck!



answers from Las Vegas on

Hi A.,

My kids are older, I don't know anything about sleep training or CIO, those terms didn't exist when my kids were babies. We rocked them to sleep, put them down in their own beds and called it a night. My kids both slept soundly for six hour stretches by the time they were 12 weeks old. maybe I was just lucky, I don't know.

What I do know is that we waited too long to get rid of the paci. The kids had it whenever they needed it, supplied by mom or dad, until they were old enough to reach out in the night and find it themselves. Once that started, when they couldn't find it, the trouble began. Once the kids were old enough to make the decision themselves to use or not to use the paci, it was only a bedtime/naptime thing. They stayed in the bed, no other options. Our problem was not completely getting rid of them shortly after we realized the kids could not relax without them. When it began to affect our sleep, then it became an issue.

You are the parent, you will know when the right time is to wean your child from the paci. Doctors are wonderful people with good advice. However, remember that you are the one living with your baby, not the doctor. Every baby is different, take your cues from baby. One of the greatest things we ever did with our kids was to teach them to sleep in their own beds.

Good luck!


answers from Chicago on

I wouldn't tackle the paci issue right now. 4mos is really little for that and she still needs to suck. It soothes her naturally. My DS just turned 2 and he still has his. It's one of his main comfort items. I plan on trying to get rid of it in another 6mos or so (we have another baby on the way in the next few weeks).

As for CIO, I'm a big fan of it, as well as different versions of it (go in, pat the back, leave, etc...). It does work. And I don't think that 4mos is too young to start. We started with DS around that age, and he's been a wonderful sleeper, sleeping through the night from around 16 weeks and on as a result. Please don't let the other moms on here give you a hard time about that.

That said, I do think 2 hrs is too long to let her cry. Even Dr. Weisbluth suggests giving up/taking a break after an hour.
I would do some sleep training, WITH the paci and see how that goes.


answers from Los Angeles on

Hello A.,
I signed up for Mamapedia so that I can reach out to Moms like you looking for answers to solve their children's sleep issues. I am a professional sleep consultant with a 100% success rate - works everytime for LIFE. I create tailor made solutions to your parenting style and to your baby's age and personality.
I hope to hear from you.



answers from Los Angeles on

I am not sure how old your daughter is, but both my boys were 1 years old when I removed their pacifiers. I actually took away their pacifier cold turkey style. It took one week of misery for them, but 5 days to the day they were over it. To some parents this may be tourcherous, but seriously the pacifier is NOT really something the child needs but rather something the parent needs because they cant take control of a situation. The most important thing is dont stop one habbit by starting a new one. Best of luck to you!



answers from San Diego on

Full disclosure: I have a 10 month old and chose NOT to use a pacifier. Nevertheless, I think 4 months is too young to be concerned about taking a pacifier away. I would wait until your baby is about a year.



answers from Los Angeles on

I had the same situation with my daughter and took it away at 6 months. After a few nights of crying it was forgotten....



answers from Hartford on

I am sorry bc I dont do CIO nor do i think it is good idea, so I wont comment on that I will just comment on the paci.....why do you want to nix it at 4 mo? some babies have a strong need to suck and most dr. things you read ect will say that you dont have to nix the nuk (paci we all it a nuk) unless it interfeers w/ them talking. my DD will talk w/ it and i will tell her to take it out to talk, she is HIGHLY verbal so it does not pose a problem. she is 19 mo now so I must say we are weaning and she uses it only for long car rides and nap/bed. she used to be really addicted to it when she was yonger but she has gotten busy w/ other things and uses it less, as most toddlers I think do.....I never thougth she would but she did. they have so much to deal w/: teetihing, learing new things, being worried, temper tantrums I dont think loosing a nuk is highly important unless they are older and it is a problem.....your DD is so young I would not worry at all yet. oh and my dentisit said that it does not mess up their teeth and really lang. dev. is the only reason to worry and get rid of it. hope this helps, xo


answers from Detroit on

We didn't start CIO till ours was 6 months old. 4 months is way too young!

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