What is the Best Age to Get Rid of Pacifiers?

Nov. 14, 2014

Care.com Question of the Week: Parents and caregivers share their opinions on baby pacifier use.

Some parents use pacifiers as essential tools to calm a crying baby. Other parents are opposed to the use of pacifiers entirely, for health and development reasons. We asked our community of parents, nannies and babysitters on Care.com's Facebook Page what they thought about pacifiers. When is the best age to stop using them? Should children use them at all?

Here's what they said:

  1. "I'll let my daughter have one until she either doesn't want it anymore or the dentist recommends she not have it."
    ~ Amberly S.
  2. "When they are learning to talk."
    ~ Judy S.
  3. "When you get tired of waking up in the middle of the night to 'plug them back in.'"
    ~ Shawn G.
  4. "6 months -- before they have a chance to do damage to their teeth. My daughter decided at 6 months she was done with them and never wanted them again. And per her dentist, it was the best time. Oral health is so important."
    ~ Renate P.
  5. "Never offer one. Then you won't have to get rid of them."
    ~ Madison K.
  6. "We stopped the bottles and pacifiers at 13 months. Past one year or so is not good for their teeth and can severely delay speech. I cringe every time I see a 2 or 3 year old at the playground sucking a pacifier while the other kids their age are talking and playing."
    ~ Lauren D.
  7. "My first used a pacifier and it was mostly for sleep, as he got older it stayed in his bed. If they can walk and talk, in my opinion, it's not needed during the day. We talked him into giving it up before his 3rd birthday. The second child refused all pacifiers and bottles…both kids still needed braces, as did my third, who also never used a pacifier. Do your best as a parent and stop judging others."
    ~ Jennifer H.
  8. "The big question is... who really needs the pacifier: the kid or the parents? Many times, in child care, the child never uses it while in care and the second the parent arrives, the parent pops it into the kid's mouth! Some infants take to them and some don't; don't force them to take them if they don't want it."
    ~ Gina C.
  9. "The girl I nanny just sent her 'teetees' off  in the mail to the 'teetee fairy' on her 3rd birthday. She was only allowed to use it for sleeping when she was 2."
    ~ Kayla S.
  10. "Allowing children to use pacifiers and bottles past the age of 1 is ridiculous."
    ~ John R.
  11. "My son had one 'til 3 (his decision to lose it) and my daughter who is almost 2 still has hers just for sleeping. Their teeth are perfect! I'd rather them have a paci than suck their fingers or thumb! How do you break that habit when it's stuck to them?!"
    ~ Alyssa J
  12. "Give up the binkie when you're 76."
    ~ Shelli R.
  13. "I found some babies need them, some don't. But whatever you do, by age 1 no pacifier and no more bottles -- that's what sippy cups are for."
    ~ Penny R.
  14. "Both of my kids had a pacifier and they both decided when they wanted to get rid of it. Neither of them have issues with their teeth and it didn't harm them in any way. I really dislike people who feel the need to make others feel bad because of a decision they made for their child."
    ~ Lauren B.
  15. "I don't recall that any of my kids used a pacifier. It's a substitute for good parenting."
    ~ John B.
  16. "6 months. I only gave them to my kids when they wanted to eat and it wasn't time, basically."
    ~ Amanda M.
  17. "I think no mom should judge another mom for using a pacifier...just like you shouldn't judge on whether they breastfed or not. My son uses a pacifier, is almost 17 months, and has never been sick and his teeth are perfect. He uses it to chew on while he is breaking teeth through. He also talks just fine. It's his comfort. He would be sucking his thumb if he didn't have a pacifier... can't take away a thumb when it's time. As soon as he consistently starts sleeping through the night, pacifier is gone."
    ~ Erica L.
  18. "Whenever they're ready to turn it in. My daughter gave me hers at four years old and she has perfectly straight teeth."
    ~ Patricia P.
  19. "As a foster parent to 14 babies or toddlers, I've found that each child is different. One baby was on a NG tube and a pacifier was recommended by both her feeding specialist and her pediatrician to help her learn to suck. Unfortunately, she would never take one. We've had a few that went through withdrawals -- one had severe withdrawals and that child is the only one who has taken a pacifier. At 10 months old, with ten teeth, still uses one. Sleep is difficult enough with the pacifier; I cannot imagine not letting him have one!"
    ~ Deborah M.
  20. "Personally I think pacifiers are great! As an infant they help to reduce the risk of SIDS. I gave one to my son after he was born. I also decided that when he turned a year old I would no longer give him a pacifier. As it turned out, he was 13 months old when he decided he was done with the pacifier and the bottle!"
    ~ Stacey B.
  21. "I nursed & used passies. Other than my youngest, I think they finished with them by around 1.5. I decided to wean my son at 18 months, due to some personal issues. That night he dropped it as I was carrying him down the hall. I was too tired to pick it up, so when he asked for it I said it was gone. That was the end of that. I think the biggest problem is parents who just shove it in a child's mouth instead of letting the child decide when to use it. It's often used in place of actual parent/child interaction."
    ~ Denise L.
  22. "Visit your dentist, to see if it is helping or harming your child's bite, etc."
    ~ Alice S.
  23. "I used to be a judgmental jerk about seeing toddlers with pacifiers in public. Now I have a 2.5 year old who will not keep his hands out of his mouth. Every playground, every mall, everywhere, his fingers are in his mouth. If I stick a pacifier in his mouth at the playground, he doesn't stick his germy, disgusting hands in his mouth and I can rest easy until I can slather him up with soap or hand sanitizer. So anyway, all that to say that it's your business -- as long as you ditch it before it causes any developmental problems in your child's mouth, then you just do what works for you."
    ~ Melissa H.
  24. "Right before my child turned 2, we went to Build-a-Bear and put his in his first teddy.  It worked. He's 8 and still has it...you can feel the pacifier."
    ~ Wendy W.
  25. "If the baby needs them in the first year, let them. But then before 13 months, have them magically disappear. It will be some transition for a few days, but then it will be alright. If you wait longer than 18 months and they can go and find them themselves, it is a lot harder. The biggest thing is don't assume your baby needs them. And if they resist them at first, great!"
    ~ Nellie D.
  26. "6 months. But there is a point where kids try to get rid of them on their own. It's the parents most often that continue to plug them in."
    ~ Lindi B.
  27. "Not crazy about them. Always dropping on the floor and baby can't get them back in their mouth until they are older."
    ~ Katrina B.
  28. "I would let them go when they are getting their teeth. One girl I cared for chewed hers sideways and it was making her teeth curve incorrectly, so I wouldn't give it to her (only when she was going to sleep). She stopped asking for it so much because I distracted her."
    ~ Meliza R.
  29. "Age 3 for my son. We discussed it for a month and had a funeral for it. (I quickly dug it up just in case.) He is now 15 and can remember where it was buried. Pacifiers are supposed to be helpful in decreasing the risk of SIDS, so keeping it at least one year is helpful. My second son didn't want one."
    ~ Tatum H.
  30. "My son has special needs and doesn't have self-soothing skills. He is almost 3 and still has it on occasion."
    ~ Alyssa S.
  31. "6 months, my daughter broke herself of it. The bottle was a different story."
    ~ Barbi Y.
  32. "In the trash at 1 year old!"
    ~ Samantha M.
  33. "My son quit his at 11 months. I bought the orthodontic ones that don't bother teeth. He has never had an ear infection in his life. It helped break his teeth through when teething. He only used it to sleep, never during the day and it was the pediatrician who recommended that it nighttime pacifier be used to continue the sucking motion and reduces the risk of SIDS. It never confused him breastfeeding either. My son due in March will not be introduced one unless he desires to suck at night."
    ~ Tammy F.
  34. "Definitely not much past a year. They should be able to self soothe without a binky a little before a year. If you're going to keep it past a year, only at bedtime and nap time, or they will get way too attached and it will be even harder to get rid of it. What we did is we 'mailed the binkies to the babies' and that helped get rid of it. Also they are not good for teeth, even the 'dental' ones. Just my opinion as a caregiver for 7+ years."
    ~ Shannon R.
  35. "When they are ready to stop using them, they will let you know. I have five kids, and some used it and some didn't. Some doctors do recommend them for babies with digestive issues like reflux. It really does help."
    ~ Patty M.
  36. "18 months is when the paci went bye-bye. Cold turkey worked for my daughter."
    ~ Deana M.
  37. "My older daughter had a very hard time giving up her pacifier. Pediatric dentists say that a pacifier should be given up by the fourth birthday to prevent problems with the teeth. It will not cause a problem prior to that. They also aren't a substitute for good parenting. Pacifiers are very helpful for babies who are teething. Anyway, she gave it up the night before her fourth birthday, but she had only been using it at bedtime for two years prior. We did decide to get rid of our 15-month-old daughter's pacifiers at the same time, so her sister wouldn't take them. The younger one did fine letting them go."
    ~ Mary L.
  38. "I think after 2 it is weird, but I see no problem letting a baby soothe herself with a pacifier. Mine used it to help teeth break through, but we lost all her binkies for a week and now she is off them at 8 months."
    ~ Haley R.
  39. "I took my daughter's away at birth -- never used one."
    ~ Harmony F.
  40. "After safe sleeping is diminished, when the child is able to roll over and sleep on his or her belly, then get rid of the pacifier. Pacifiers save lives -- they believe there's a link between pacifiers and SIDS: the suck motion keeps the baby alert while sleeping."
    ~ Lisa B.
  41. "My twins were the only babies of our five who used a pacifier. By 3 months, they refused it, so that was the end of it."
    ~ Nancy R.

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