When babies are born, they have a very strong sucking reflex. If they happen to be born early, then the hospital will give the baby a soother to improve their sucking action, so that they can learn to feed and latch well. Poor suck = failure to thrive in some cases.
In fact, we associate babies with sucking, soother, boob, bottle, thumb, but although we are often fast to offer to suck items to keep babies calm or to help babies sleep - they can also become dependable sleep crutches causing broken sleep.
So, now that your baby or maybe toddler or even preschooler has a soother, you are probably wondering the best way to get rid of it!
There are a few different ways, but one thing is for sure, the age of your child will impact how they deal with the removal. Once children are between the age of 18 months to the age of 3, the removal can be more difficult because they develop an emotional attachment to it, you may notice they will actually start to use it more, than they have in the past as they hit 18 months and want to take it places, or hold it, or just walk around with it in their mouths more.
If your baby or toddler has a soother, it can also become a crutch for you. When I talk to parents about soother removal, they are often very nervous in anticipation of how their child will react/cope.
With small babies, you can phase it out, and often this is done when you start sleep training, as they are considered to be negative associations, you can read more about sucking associations on this blog post.
You can start with bedtime, then overnight, and then naptime, and eventually just remove it altogether.
In some cases, clients with small babies may keep it in the day and only remove it for sleeping, and in some cases, a baby won't even entertain it or want it once they are no longer using it for sleeping.
With older children though, the removal can be a little more challenging. You have probably heard stories of other parents telling you that they gave their Childs soother away to the soother fairy, and replaced it with something else like a new toy. This is not my favorite way to do it, as they tend to 'buy in' to this notion, but once it comes to leaving the soother becomes upset, or gives it up to get the gift to go on about it non-stop, which stresses parents out.
My absolute favorite way to get rid of a soother in an older child is to simply just cut the tip-off. Not all the way down, just about 0.5cm from the top.
Here is step by step
Find all the soothers and reduce your stockpile down to just one or two.
Cut the tops off all the remaining ones so that they are "broken", but don't say anything
Let your child put it in their mouth as normal and they will realize it doesn't feel right and will take it out and look at it.
They may show you, and you can then say "oh it's broken, do you want to hold it or do you want to throw it out?"
Most will have you throw it out, but if they do want to keep it because of the emotional attachment, they can still hold it in their hand or flip the end in their fingers whilst falling to sleep. They will not want it in their mouth as it will not feel good to them.
By doing it this way, you do NOT have to say NO you can not have it, you do NOT have to say it's going to a fairy and you do NOT have to deal with as much emotional drama around letting it go. So many clients are so surprised at how easy it is to remove the soother this way.
NOW, if your child needs it to sleep, you will want a plan or to talk through with someone how to handle bedtime if it becomes a struggle, then feel free to book a free 15 minute call with me, and I can give you some more tips.
Do you feel like you need help removing the soother for your baby?
Or thinking about sleep training?
My 4-6 month training guide, covers everything you need to know.