Baby's First Year · Musings

Weaning Baby O off the pacifier

I’m not against the use of pacifier.

Though it is commonly blamed for early dental and speech problems, some even believe baby’s mouth will change shape, I thought prudent use will help baby to settle and spare our ears from the crying.

Or so I thought.

Prudent use, as defined by some books, is allowing baby to suck only before sleeping or when eliminating a night feed. Tracy Hogg suggested if baby is already tired and only needs that extra push to dreamland, she will suck energetically on the pacifier for a few seconds and release.

Since Baby O sleeps well without any aid at night and only struggles during his daytime naps, I offered the pacifier only in the day.

It worked, at first.

What I conveniently forgot was, Baby O doesn’t sleep more than 20 mins in the day. To help him sleep again, the pacifier was engaged almost EVERY hour. By the end of a week, he was addicted.

He cries for the pacifier before sleep and lets me know by sticking out his tongue and doing the sucking motion. It even affected his usual peaceful bedtime. What used to be quiet, happy evenings turned into screaming fits and us taking turns to put the falling pacifier back into his mouth.

I was exhausted. It came to a point where I was dreading to go to sleep, cos baby will wake up twice during the night. I was also reluctant to wake up, cos the day will be spent in a groundhog cycle of pumping milk, feeding baby for 15 mins, changing diapers and what-not for 30 mins, and the next 2 hours coaxing a crying baby to sleep.

Showers were 2 mins jiffies. Lunch was interrupted and left to cool under the fan for 2 hours or more. Everything was done in fear of the next time-slicing cry.

And then Baby O turned 2 months.

I read that sleeping is somewhat scary to babies cos it feels like falling. In the first three months, before baby develops her own self-soothing techniques, she will need some sort of aid to dreamland. Be it rocking/swaddling/singing/patting/pacifier/yaolan etc. Come 3 months, they are capable of falling asleep on their own and sleeping props should be diminished or discontinued.

2 weeks down, I realised he had started to find his fingers- his first sign of self-soothing ability.

Then one night, he decided to sleep for 6 hours straight. I was refreshed for the first time in a very long time.

I took the cue. The next day, I stopped using the pacifier.

How I weaned Baby O off the pacifier:

1. Timing

Babies around his age gets tired after being awake for 1+ hour. I also looked out for his sleepy signs- yawning and clawing face. The moment I saw these, I toned down whatever activity we were doing and set him in bed.

2. Distract, distract, distract

When he cried, I monitored for a while. Once his cry escalated in decibel and climbing towards awakening rather than sleeping, I picked him up and distracted him. He loves the black and white wall mural in the living room, so I allowed him to gush and smiled at the wall whilst rocking and swaying him in my arms.

3. Talk like it’s not a big deal

Babies pick up on our tone. And I dunno about you, but my baby’s screaming DOES get to me. So before he turned up the volume, I asked him in the calmest voice I can manage: “Yes, what’s wrong? Can’t sleep? Just close your eyes and (“shut up you stupid boy” under muttered breath) and sleep, you’ll feel more refreshed!”

What all these are supposed to do: Get him to bed when he is tired, assure him you are there when he needs you, and falling asleep is not a big deal and nothing to be afraid of.

The first nap was the most challenging. I had to pick him up several times, my arms were half-buckling under his weight and his crying thinning my patience. But by the 3rd nap, either out of exhaustion or the “training”, he slept for 40 mins, the very first time in his life.

On the second day, he took a leap of faith. 20 mins, thumb-suck for a few minutes, and back to sleep for another 40 mins.

No patting/rocking/singing etc. Nothing.

By the third day, he stopped sticking out his tongue for the pacifier. For his bedtime, we swaddled him again. Our peaceful evenings resumed.

Since then, though I have to clean his hands more often, the advantages outweighed this inconvenience.

He sleeps longer, both in the day and night. He goes to sleep faster, in his own cot. There’s limited crying, and I don’t have to rock a 7 kilo baby to sleep. I’ve also stopped the bedtime swaddling after his sleeping habits improved. Of course, there are still times when I missed his cues or we were out and his naps were messed up and out comes the rocking/shushing/swaddling. But generally, I was finally able to take a proper shower, eat my lunch in peace and most importantly, enjoy Baby O’s company whilst he babbles on about his day:

24 thoughts on “Weaning Baby O off the pacifier

  1. Hey is this the pick up put down method from Tracy Hogg or the ssshh/ pat method? I have been trying but couldnt tolerate bb ceying thats why… Thanks!


  2. Hi Aw! Nice to see meet you! No, this isn’t the pu/pd method. I just distract him by carrying him all around the house. How old is your baby? If baby is less than 6 months old, I probably wouldn’t let him cry for too long either. Are you trying to wean baby from pacifier or just to stop him from crying?


    1. Hi there I am facing the same issue as you but did not introduce the paciifier. Bb is 2 months. Am encouraged by your story! Shall try again…


  3. Your baby also don’t sleep well in the day? You must be exhausted from all the rocking! There’s a few things which I think was in place when Baby O starts to sleep better~ 1stly, he found his thumb. He can suck on it to self soothe himself to sleep. 2ndly, I followed the Tracy Hogg’s book and put him to sleep about half and hr to 45 mins from the time he was awake or the moment he starts to show signs of tiredness (usu yawning). Babies at 2 months don’t really know how to put themselves to sleep, so we help set the scene (slow things down, put on his fav music, singing etc) 10-15 mins before he is supposed to get tired, usu ard the 45 mins mark. That way, he will feel sleepy and more and more drowsy so you don’t need to rock him to make him sleep. I’m so glad I made the decision to stop rocking him at 3 months cos he ballooned to a 6-7kg baby then and I can’t imagine how I was gonna rock that weight for 15 mins. Furthermore, at 4 months, their sleep patterns changed and you might find yourself rocking more than 15 mins and he sleeps for 30 mins juz to pop up awake fully energized!


    1. Yup my Bb starting to suck his fists.. Tracy Hogg method or the happiest baby on the block is not that easy in the beginning, my friend says consistency is key.. 😉 thanks!


      1. No problem~ And one thing to remember is, all babies cry, that’s what they do. The usual suspects, hunger-tiredness-uncomfortable due to diaper/cold/hot, bored, all we can do is eliminate them one by one~ You will be surprised, you are already doing a better job than you think~!


  4. Hi Aw, I would probably look at his overall sleep hours, how much is he sleeping in 24 hours? Babies from 1 month to 3 months old needs an average of 14-16 hours of sleep per day, with 3-4 naps in the day. Mine was only sleeping about 13-14 hours at your baby’s age cos he doesn’t nap well in the day~ Generally, I read that a full sleep cycle is one hour. However, many babies like my own take catnaps of 30-45 mins thru the day then take their longest stretch of sleep at night. He does get a bit cranky in the evening though~


    1. Yup mine gets cranky if not enough sleep… Anyway my dream feed seems to interfere with my son’s night sleep, like yours too! Maybe I shall just wake him at 11am & treat that as the last feed & fingers crossed for uninterrupted sleep!


      1. Yup read the wonder weeks… If it’s really this phase, hope & pray it will pass really quickly!! He’s really not himself


  5. hi there 🙂 do you think the picking up/distracting method will work for night time sleep?

    my 4.5month old used to sleep through the night from 2 months but started waking up every 2 hours ever since my maternity leave ended. now he will only go back to sleep after like 20 min of soothing his head. and it happens every 1.5 to 2 hours. i’m going bonkers. (he sleeps in a swaddleup and with help of pacifier)


    1. Hi kerensa, u must be tired from having work in the day n waking up every 2 hours every night! most babies’ sleep patterns go thru a change from 4 months old onwards, teething, growth spurts and developmental milestones are all probable causes, is ur bub drooling more often? wanna bite things? or learnt some new things? that’d give u an idea of what the root cause is. and ur bub seems easy to handle enuff, juz soothing head and will go back to sleep! such a nice baby! i know alot of babies that had to be picked up and swayed, swung, rocked at wee hours so I think she’s already cutting u some slack! lol~ i’ve never really used the pu/distracting mtd at night, cos i find that i will need to keep doing it once he get used to being picked up. most of the time, the same result can be achieved juz by soothing him and being by his side without picking him up altogether.


  6. thanks for replying! actually yes he’s going through all that you’ve mentioned: drooling, biting, many milestones in the past couple of weeks (holding his teether, flipping, sitting with assistance). at first i thought his sleep regression is due to these but later brushed it away because this “phase” is lasting too long (almost a month) and getting from bad to worse. do you suggest i wait patiently for the phase to pass or should i embark on some sleep training soon?


    1. oh wow, he’s learning things really fast! but yes, i agree with u, a month is really kinda a long time, did u apply the teething gel for him? and i’m not sure whether i’m the best person to seek advice on patience cos, i’m really not a very patient person lol~ so yeah, i’ll prob allow him to cry a while more than he used to if teething gel dun already help. when u say sleep training, what kinda training are u thinking of? is it controlled crying?


  7. i’m not exactly sure if he is teething cos the fussiness only kicks in at night so nope i’ve not started any teething gel. maybe i should huh… but i’m super weary of giving him anything ‘edible’ other than milk. by sleep training i mean any method out there be it CIO or no-cry method etc. still reading up to see which method i’m comfortable with.


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