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Thoughts on Pacifier Use and on Weaning Children Off the Nuk

by Lori Jo Kemper MBA,CPC, MIC, PCI Certified Parent Coach®, Founder of The Parenting Path®, A Parent Coaching and Positive Parenting Education Organization

The decision to wean children off the nuk may have some parents experiencing all kinds of horrible images that come to mind….children that won’t go to bed much less sleep, rebellion, tantrums, and the works.

Actually, it is my belief that many parents are even more concerned about the welfare of their children - that if in doing so, their child may become inconsolable. The total upset of the child can erode parents’ confidence, leaving fear and doubt to creep into their heads.

It is important that parents do what they think is the best for their children, at all times. It is also helpful for parents to thoughtfully consider the harder decisions first. It is natural for parents to feel very uncomfortable when their children are inconsolable. By having a thoughtful decision, followed by a thoughtful plan if necessary, parents increase the likelihood of the successful outcome they are hoping for.


To help parents with this topic, I am providing a few pieces of information to put their minds at ease.


  • According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, an infant’s sucking needs decreases after 6 months old.
  • According to the American Dental Association, permanent changes in the jaws start taking place at ages 3 to 4, leading to the recommendation that children be weaned off nuks by those ages.
  • Some folks say to take the nuk away at 6 months, some say 12 months.

Here are some helpful tips on the general use of the nuk to begin with:

  • Don’t allow your baby to depend on the nuk to get to sleep. Babies need to learn to get to sleep on their own and when they do, it is helpful throughout childhood.
  • The longer a child uses the nuk, the harder it will be to take it away.
  • The best time to discontinue use of the nuk is at the infant ages, closer to 6 months than 12. It is easier for the baby and the parent at that point.
  • When you notice less interest in the nuk from your child, definitely proceed with a thoughtful decision to take it away, at any age.

In preparation of discontinuing the use of the nuk, important tips for parents:

  • Thinking through big decisions first is a very helpful first step.
  • Both parents need to be in agreement and unified.
  • Your decisions will be based on the ages, temperaments and needs of your children.
  • Once you decide to take them away, don’t backslide. It is worse for both you and your children.
  • When parents take it away, they need to be careful not to replace it with themselves.

Here are some options for how to get rid of the nuk:

  • Just simply throw all the nuks away.
  • Cut the tip off the nuk
  • Trade the nuks for a toy. (careful on this one)
  • The nuks suddenly disappear without the child being in on it. (don’t know about this one)
  • Plan a certain date on a calendar the child can see, gather them all and throw them away on that day. Make it a celebration.
  • Slowly wean children off the nuk, a little at a time, i.e., less use each day.
  • Nuk Fairy - You can even make a little nuk holder with your child, decorate it, etc, and the fairy comes at night and gets the nuks. You may choose to leave a small toy behind from the fairy. Puff! They are gone. Make believe is OK.

Tips for Taking Action with Your Plan:

  • The parental shift parents need to make for toddlers is to be a teacher. Give child information and love. (Your teeth need to grow into your mouth correctly…)
  • Replace nuk with self ability and NOT you
  • Replace with good bedtime routine – that comforts and assures ( if you do not already have one)
  • Make it quick and permanent
  • Do not engage in power struggle
  • Do not use anger at any time, even though your child may be very angry. You remain calm and confident, at all times.
  • Toddlers will test, but they will accept it if you do not waver. Stand strong in your conviction and help them through, with love and assurance.

AND Put on what I call the Armor of Parenting

  • “Belt of self confidence,
  • Breastplate of love,
  • Boots of wisdom,
  • Shield of patience,
  • Helmet of a clear mind,
  • And sword of commitment to do what’s best for your child at all times (not necessarily what they want).”

Fashioned after a great bible verse, Ephesians 6:11-17, by Lori Jo Kemper



Copyright 2008,Lori Jo Kemper ,TheParentingPath®

A little girl wrote, "God, I wore my brand new red shoes to church on Sunday to show them to you. Did you see them?".

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