Using a pacifier for your baby can be both beneficial and risky.
Yes, your baby does learn how to self-soothe, but it can also be difficult to break this habit.
So, have you thought about pacifier alternatives?
Pacifiers are the easiest way to calm your baby, but weaning your baby from a pacifier is a very complicated and difficult task.
Fortunately, there are some other ways of soothing your munchkin.
Pacifier alternatives include blankets, stuffed animals or any soft toy, cuddle sessions, breastfeeding, and more.
You can use whatever you want, just be patient and you’ll see the results.
Newborns are not the only ones who need pacifiers, mommies need self-soothing as well!
Jokes aside, we shouldn’t exclude toddlers, especially when a new baby arrives in the family.
Toddlers are very emotional and attached to parents.
If you’re out of the house because of work or don’t pay enough attention, your kiddo will start behaving in a way that will attract your attention.
So next time your little one comes to you with anger or tears, just give her a cuddle instead of a binky.
If you want to find the perfect alternative to pacifiers for your little one, check out this list of paci replacements for babies and toddlers.
Pacifier Alternatives For Infants
This is probably stating the obvious, but breastfeeding is one of the best comforter alternatives for newborns up to 1-year-olds, even for toddlers, if you breastfeed until three.
When I had my first child, I thought she was always hungry in the beginning, as she wanted to nurse all the time.
Later on, experienced moms told me that my little one was just fine and that she was just using breastfeeding as a way to calm herself, which is called nursing for comfort.
Before that, I used pacis for my daughter, but when I figured out this comfort nursing thing, I started using it instead, at least most of the time.
It’s interesting how many people told me I should rather use a paci instead of nursing, as the baby may get too attached to me.
However, your baby needs you most of the time and depends on you completely as a newborn until at least 1 year of age.
My baby ate every time she felt hunger, sadness, or stress because of cramps and gases.
She would be out like a light after nursing because she could feel my presence.
The emotional aspect is just one part of the effects of breastfeeding on a baby’s development.
Breast milk has a lot of positive effects on the baby’s brain, as it provides the child with Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, as well as zinc, vitamin C, and other nutrients.
This alternative to a pacifier may be a bit demanding for you, but it will provide your child with multiple benefits.
2. SwaddleMe Original Swaddle
Swaddles are great as a pacifier alternative.
To you, it might seem uncomfortable, but for your infant, it’s a way for them to feel safe.
A swaddle is actually a good replacement for the womb, which is crucial for babies, as infants may go through a lot of stress dealing with a wide-open world.
It’s very convenient to take the baby from the bassinet when she’s wrapped up nicely so there are no legs or arms fighting you during the process.
The SwaddleMe Original Swaddle is an excellent choice for your baby, as it can be divided into three stages of sleep.
The first stage is the infant stage of sleep when the baby is not rolling yet and your baby is completely tucked in.
The second stage comes after the baby shows signs of rolling.
Hands become free in this stage.
The third stage is when the baby is older and you think she could roll around easily.
In this stage, the swaddle looks like a sleeping bag and allows you to easily transition the baby out of the swaddle.
Swaddling can replace pacis during both naptime and bedtime. Another great thing is that your baby doesn’t get attached to another object again.
Just keep in mind, swaddling is a great way to soothe the baby besides pacifiers, but you have to monitor the baby’s gross motor development.
3. Angel Dear Pair and a Spare Blanket Set
I remember my daughter getting a lovie when she was born, but I actually had no idea what brand it was.
It looked like a stuffed raccoon toy with a small cape (that’s what I thought, at least).
When I started exploring things I need for my second child, I remembered the lovie my baby girl had and dug it out from storage.
The raccoon lovie was still alive and kicking, so when my son was born, we used that a lot.
He actually really liked it and wanted it close during naptime all the time.
This set from Angel Dear is excellent as you get three super cute bunnies, so you can hide two as a spare, or leave one at grandma’s house.
You can choose between a variety of animals, including giraffes, elephants, piggies, and so on.
Just make sure to always have the spare one readily available, as kids tend to get attached to them and might not want a new toy to replace the old lovie, especially toddlers.
4. Windsor Glider and Ottoman
This is something for both moms and babies to enjoy.
Many people say that you shouldn’t spoil your child by holding and rocking her to sleep, but this is actually one of the best ways to avoid pacifiers, after breastfeeding.
This glider for the nursery from Angel Line is really cozy because it has padded arms and an ottoman.
It’s very easy to clean as you can remove the chair cushions and wash them separately.
They come in different colors so you can choose whichever suits the nursery or your taste.
Why would you rock your baby to sleep in a standing position if you can use a glider rocker?
Just make sure you don’t fall asleep too.
5. Fisher-Price Fawn Meadows Deluxe Cradle ‘n Swing
Sometimes your arms need a little bit of rest when cuddling your little one.
It’s easy to carry your baby as an infant, but with a 6-month-old, carrying becomes a bit of a challenge.
This swing comes as a perfect solution for soothing without having to carry your baby all around the house for hours.
Most babies really enjoy this swing as it makes them feel comfortable and happy.
Cute little animals dancing above the seat and a soothing soundtrack will entertain your baby for a long time, so you just might watch that TV show you love today.
6. Hatch Baby Rest
White noise is one of the most popular ways to drift off into the world of dreams, not only for babies but for adults, too.
Parents often make the mistake of trying to keep everything as quiet as possible.
Babies do not need complete silence, as it might just make them feel more nervous – therefore, you can use a white noise device.
This is a very popular method – some people use phones, but I prefer to use the white noise device from Hatch.
This product features a sound device and a nightlight for your baby which can be adjusted from your phone, so you don’t have to get up and turn it off!
White noise is suitable for both babies and toddlers, so this machine is a great investment for the next few years of your baby’s life.
7. Nuby Silicone Teethe-eez Teether
Personally, I am not a big fan of using teethers as a replacement for binkies.
I do think teethers are great but at the right time.
I have seen a lot of parents giving teethers to their newborns, unaware of the consequences.
Yes, this will help your baby to soothe himself but, imagine the struggle when you want to take it from your kiddo.
Non-toxic infant teethers are great during the teething period when babies get really nervous and look for a way to self-soothe.
Nuby Silicone Teethe-eez is my go-to teether, as it’s shaped perfectly to fit your baby’s mouth and it comes with a carrying case, so you can take it with you wherever you go.
However, don’t use them before your baby starts growing teeth, so four months, at least.
You don’t want your baby to have dental problems with baby teeth, right?
Pacifier Alternatives For Toddlers
1. Clover & Sage Organic Muslin Blanket
Many children have that one thing they get extremely attached to at a young age.
As pacifier use is not recommended for a long period of time, many parents try to find something else to calm their child or to ease any kind of pain.
A blanket is an excellent way to avoid the use of a pacifier, so why wouldn’t you get the best blanket for your munchkin?
I invested in a lot of baby stuff that I did and did not need, but this muslin toddler blanket was a total hit!
I bought two blankets and my children still use them, even though they’re big kids now.
This brand makes pure cotton, hypoallergenic blankets with four layers.
It’s super soft and cozy, so for me, this is an excellent way to replace a paci.
These blankets are suitable for babies, too – just keep in mind they should be taken out of the crib after the baby falls asleep if your little one is less than 12-months-old.
This recommendation comes from a number of pediatricians who state blankets should be removed from the baby’s crib as it can increase the risk of SIDS.
2. A new toy
If you’re trying to wean your toddler from using a pacifier, you can always try to buy a new toy, something that might attract his attention, like a favorite cartoon toy.
Make sure not to spoil your toddler with too many toys (it happens, too), just make sure to get the right one that will successfully replace the pacifier.
A new toy can be beneficial in other areas, too.
Potty training can be a very challenging experience for toddlers and it’s a great step from being a baby to becoming a big kid.
Always remember that this is more difficult for your munchkin than for you, even though sometimes it might seem the other way around.
Therefore, a new toy might be just the right thing for potty training.
If this is a doll or stuffed animal, you can place it on the potty and show your toddler how it’s done.
They’re always competitive, so they’ll want to try it too. If it’s something else, put your toddler on the potty and play together, make potty time fun!
3. Boon SNUG Straw Lids
I bet you never even thought about using straws as pacifier alternatives for toddlers?
Well, if you think about it, it’s a pretty obvious solution as kids are already used to the sucking motion, whether they were breastfed or on formula.
Therefore, toddlers may find comfort in drinking any liquid by using a straw.
This can also work for nighttime, you only need to buy a spill-proof cup with a straw and your little one can drink water in the bedroom.
If you’re not sure which lids are best, I recommend the Boon SNUG lids as they fit almost every cup with the stretchy silicone feature.
It’s spill-proof and very easy to clean.
With easy fit lids, you can turn any cup into a sippy cup which is good not only for nighttime but in general, too!
4. Pass it on!
By now, your toddler is already aware of basic things like family members and toys and expresses a wide range of emotions.
This means your baby is growing up and now you can try “the conversation”. So, the first thing is to talk to your child.
You can convince your little one that becoming a big kid is really important and to pass his pacifier on to another baby.
Every child dreams about becoming older, wiser, and stronger like an adult (we did the same even though some of us regret it now!).
Make your child’s dream come true by praising her for being smart and wise like a big kid.
This method can be a hit or miss, but you could actually end up surprised at how mature your toddler is or it could be just what you expected, a big NO-NO.
I would suggest saving this method as one of the last resorts because if you use it in the beginning, every time you try a different method, they’ll catch you out.
Just because they’re little, doesn’t mean they’re not smart.
5. Break the suction power
I’m starting to feel like Cruella De Vil, but we gotta do what we gotta do to stop our children from sucking on binkies and teething rings as preschoolers.
If your toddler is more stubborn than you and doesn’t want to let go of her binky, you have to find another way to break this habit.
This is not the best method, but it does do the job.
You should make a small incision on the binky which will make it unusable.
If it’s damaged, the suction power is gone, so there’s nothing appealing to toddlers anymore.
It does seem a little bit harsh, but the end justifies the means.
Why Do We Use Pacifiers?
There are many reasons for the popularity of pacifiers.
Pacis are just the simplest, fastest way to stop your baby from crying, especially when they get you out of the bed at 2 a.m.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has conducted research with the American Academy of Family Physicians and they concluded pacis can be beneficial until the infant is six months of age.
These studies have shown that they can protect babies from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) and should be used when putting your baby to sleep.
If the pacifier falls out while your little one sleeps, there’s no need to reinsert it.
Negative Sides of Pacifiers
Medical advice is to slowly wean your six-month-old baby from the pacifier by using pacifier alternatives.
Pacifiers should not be actively used after the first six months of life because of the risk of getting otitis media, which is otherwise known as an ear infection.
Otitis media is a type of inflammatory disease in the middle ear.
It’s not life-threatening but can be a very painful experience for your kiddo.
Also, if you use them on newborns, it may cause problems with breastfeeding.
Your little one needs breastfeeding at the beginning more than ever, as you do, too, so don’t create nipple confusion with binkies or other comforters.
Your milk production is based on your baby’s needs, so if you soothe your baby with a paci, you might end up with less milk, which might not be enough for your baby later on.
Some babies get hooked on pacifiers right from the start.
They’ll wake up every time the paci falls out so you’ll have to get up either way.
Remember, binkies should not be used as a way to delay feeding time.
If your baby is crying because she’s hungry, you should respond to the call as soon as possible, without trying to buy time with a pacifier.
Long periods of time using a paci can also cause teeth problems which will require orthodontic treatments later in life, such as braces.
How To Wean Your Baby From Pacifiers?
My most straightforward answer is cuddles, cuddles, and lots of cuddles.
Find as much time as possible to just sit with your little one and cuddle her.
One of the biggest mistakes is to go cold turkey on your kiddo.
Even though you might get some advice to do so, just be polite and nod, and keep doing things your own way.
If you go cold turkey, that will become a huge shock for a baby or a toddler, who will suffer most in this process.
You can try hiding pacis, like not putting them in your bag when you go to the park with your munchkin, or keep forgetting them somewhere, for example. After some time your kid will probably forget about it.
It’s all up to you – it’s your baby and your choice if you’re going to use pacifier alternatives or the real thing.
Using pacifiers has become almost essential from the day your baby is born, according to many parents who have used them with their kids.
But, if you don’t want to go down this route, there are many things you can try.
There are a lot of alternatives to consider, and I hope this article helped you to learn how to survive without pacis and how to teach your toddler to do the same.
You can also do your own research on this topic to find out more details about alternatives for your baby.
The next time your baby cries, instead of giving her a binky, you can try to use some of our suggestions.
Calm baby makes mom happy!
Disclaimer: The information in this article is not an alternative for medical advice and serves only as general advice for educational purposes.
If you have any concerns regarding your child’s health, you should contact a physician, pediatrician, or other adequate medical professionals.
• Niemelä M., Pihajari O., Pokka T., Uhari M., Uhari M. (September 2000). Pacifier as a Risk Factor for Acute Otitis Media: A Randomized, Controlled Trial of Parental Counseling. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
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