I am curious how a child can be helped to move on from his/her pacifier, and what age is a good age to do this?
In my opinion, I'd have them self-pacifying before they go to school at the very latest. Since you don't know how long it will take to wean them off, it's probably better to give yourself a head start of 6 months - a year before the time you'd like them cut off.
Start weaning them off by having it for exclusive use only: only for bedtime, only in the car, etc...
Other parents have done the following to stop it cold-turkey:
- creating a scenario like the "tooth fairy", you exchange your paci for a coin or toy
- having the pediatrician in on it and turning it over to the doctor and the doctor gives them a reward of some sort (lollipop or certificate)
- having a send-off for the paci via balloons
- if you have a new addition, you can tell them that the baby needs the paci now and that they have grown to be a "big boy/girl"
Get them down to using a single pacifier, then cut a sliver off of the pacifier each day, making it shorter and shorter. I would recommend getting them off the pacifier before they are old enough to rationalize missing it; 8 - 13 months old maybe.
Dummy / Pacifier use should stop between the ages of 6 months and 12 months ...
It's possible that using a dummy at the start of any sleep period reduces the risk of cot death. However, the evidence is not strong and not all experts agree that dummies should be promoted. Don't give your baby a dummy until breastfeeding is well established, usually when they're around one month old. Stop giving them the dummy when they're between 6 and 12 months old.
...and they should only be used at night time before then
Restrict use of their dummy to when it's time to sleep. It’s hard to learn to talk with a dummy in your mouth.
As for how to stop, you could try "PANTLEY'S GENTLE REMOVAL PLAN"
Our first daughter used to leave her binky everywhere. Eventually we started telling her that the dog would eat it if she left it laying around.
Then, one day, "the dog ate it." She howled for a while the first night, had a minor meltdown for the next couple nights, and then that was it.
Our second daughter gave it up on her own with very mild prodding.
My youngest son has decided that he likes his thumb better. I'm not sure what I'm going to do if he doesn't stop on his own -- it's not like I can take that away from him. :-)
Why do children suck pacifiers? Answering that question helps unravel the weaning puzzle. Infants are born with a sucking reflex and sucking is a natural and effective calming strategy. They are born with a NEED to suck. As their motor, vision, and attending skills develop, healthy children should be encouraged to learn more age appropriate calming strategies. It is so important for our children to learn self-regulation of their emotions so they can calm themselves appropriately as they develop.
Weaning from nursing/bottle feeding is possibly the best time to wean from the pacifier because they no longer NEED to rely on sucking.
Even if it does not change their teeth (OFTEN it does) it always changes their swallow pattern which OFTEN leads to muscle weakness, facial changes, and later speech problems. I see soooo many children with these problems. Here is a link to the International Association of Orofacial Myology that has a good overview of swallow development and possible complications/consequences.
A really cute book that kids enjoy about pacifier weaning is "The Last Noo-Noo." Parents find this helpful with the pacifier rite of passage.
I had a pacifier until 5 years old. An aunt of mine promised to give me the big present I wanted only if I'd get rid of it. And it worked.
I heard that you don't really need to worry unless the teeth get deformed from the too intensive sucking. When the child will go to school, the mockery of other children will quickly make it uninteresting.
I say get rid of it around 6 months to a year for sure. If your child is 2 years old and still asking for his pacifier, I say tell him he's a big boy now and it's time to throw it away. Encourage fun activities because he is a big boy (or girl)! Deal with the crying for a couple of days, and bam they are over it! I assure you they will be fine!
My daughter is 12 and she still wants to use a pacifier. I tell her no, but recently I've caught her sleeping with one and I also caught her buying a packet of Tesco loves baby 2 pack butterfly soothers. So I would say anytime they stop wanting to use one. I have spoken to her, but she says they are for her reborn she is getting for her Christmas, so I let her away with it but secretly I know they are for her. She never used one for 8 years. Personaly I would let them do what I did, stop them at 2-3, then if they want to start using one again at 10-12 let them.