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How to keep the pacifier from impacting your child’s sleep

Updated: Sep 3, 2019

This post was originally written & published for Zipadee-Zip.


A love/hate relationship best describes how I felt about my son’s pacifier when he was an infant.

In moments of non-stop crying, it was such a blessing to give him his pacifier in exchange for a moment of peace. Inevitably the pacifier would fall out and he would wake up screaming.

I would pop it back in, just to have it fall out again. He soon became completely dependent on me replacing the pacifier for him and I eventually found myself doing the “paci return” ALL. NIGHT. LONG.

When my husband and I made the decision to sleep train our son, we also decided to go cold turkey and ditch his pacifier in conjunction with his training.

That was a good decision in our case, but that doesn’t mean it is the right choice for every family.

If you and your little one are hooked on the pacifier AND you find yourself doing the “paci return” more often than not, don’t worry!

I am here to teach you how to have a love/love relationship with your child’s paci!


The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends pacifier usage in infants during sleep for the first year of life.

Several studies have consistently showed there is a reduction in the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) associated with pacifier usage, especially if used when putting an infant to sleep.

The “why” for this is there is “protective effect” with pacifier usage.

When using a pacifier, infants may have an increased arousal responsiveness.

The position of the tongue when using a pacifier reduces the risk of oropharyngeal obstruction. Additionally, it may encourage mouth breathing if the nasal obstruction should occur during sleep.


Some of the families I work with decide to get rid of the pacifier all together in conjunction with sleep training because many changes are about to be made to the child’s sleep schedule and environment any way.

Additionally, many parents have concerns as to how long-term use of a pacifier will impact their children’s oral health down the road. However, a Nelson review indicated that pacifiers don’t have a negative oral health impact if they are discontinued between the ages of two and three.

Some families choose to limit the time when their little ones can have the pacifier so they don’t become dependent on throughout the day. They allow their baby or toddler to have it during sleep times to help with self-soothe, but that’s it.

It should be noted that it is often easier to transition out of using a pacifier at a younger age (before 12 months), as listening to a toddler protest the losing of a pacifier can be more challenging than listening to the protests of a baby.

Whatever age you decide to ditch the pacifier, it can be both a blessing and a curse, as my son learned to suck his thumb when we got rid of the pacifier.


Pacifiers can be a life-saver, helping to soothe a crying baby or upset toddler. But they can also be a massive disruption to sleep when they fall out, leaving parents to return the paci throughout the night.

So, how can we use the pacifier, but also avoid a total sleep dependency to it?

There are a couple of ways to do this:

1. Newborn pacifier removal: I talk a lot about having your newborn be drowsy but awake when putting them down to sleep. If they are using pacifier to go down, we can simply remove the pacifier from their mouth right before we put them in the crib.