Many children develop strong attachments to their soothers in their first year of life. Although there is some disagreement about the pros and cons of allowing children soothers, most experts agree that soothers are perfectly natural. They help provide young children with comfort and reassurance as they navigate their ever-changing environment.

And yet, for many parents, the challenge begins when they try to wean their little off their soother. With this in mind, we’ve decided to provide some simple tips for helping with the transition. Take a look.

When’s the Right Time?

As with many issues relating to parenting and childcare, expert opinions vary. Some childcare experts suggest that parents should try wean their babies off the soother before the one year mark, as this will help prevent your little one from forming too strong an attachment.

According to other childcare specialists, however, waiting until your child is older isn’t necessarily the problem it’s sometimes made out to be. Because children will naturally develop other coping mechanisms in their second years, they will slowly and gradually give up their soothers around this time. For this reason, this alternative school of thought takes a more laissez-faire approach to the soother issue, as they suggest children will give up their soothers around 2 or 3.

Ultimately, the decision to wean your little one off his or her soother lies with you. You will need to weigh up the potential pros and cons of starting the weaning process early, or a little later. To learn more about this particular topic of discussion, take a look at the following useful guide:

What’s the Best Approach?

Once you’ve decided to start the weaning process, the hard part begins. Again, when it comes to the best method for helping your little one give up her soother, opinions vary considerably. While some parents and experts will swear by one method, others will have found success with an alternative approach. This is because different children will react differently. Many parents will find that they need to try out a number of different approaches, over a span of time, before finding success. Let’s take a look at some of the most common approaches in turn.


- Cold Turkey

The first - and most obvious - approach you might consider is the cold turkey approach. This, in many ways, is precisely what it sounds like. Start by sitting your little one down and explaining that, since she’s getting older now, it’s time to give up her soother. Pick a date - two or three days from that time, for example - when she should say goodbye to her soother. Tell her that you believe in her and that you know she can do it.

The advantage of this is that it gives your little one time to prepare for the transition. She may still throw the occasional tantrum, for the first few weeks, but it’s a gentler and more practical approach than simply taking the soother away without prior notice.

In the lead-up to the big day, remind your little one about what you discussed.

When the day finally arrives, try to make the process as fun and upbeat as possible. You and your child should go around collecting all his or her soothers, and putting them in a bag for recycling. Go to the recycling bin together and put them in. Watching her soothers go into the bin will help her adjust to this new-found reality.


- Gradual Approach

For some children, a more piecemeal approach might be more effective. The idea here is to slowly reduce the situations where your little one needs her soother, and gradually break her dependence on it.

Firstly, begin by restricting the soother to certain times and places. She can only have her soother when she goes at bedtime, for example, or when she’s in her crib. Once your little one has got used to do this, gradually remove it entirely.


- Make the Soother Less Appealing

This might strike some parents as excessively manipulative, but some parents have found that making the soother taste bad is quite effective. Ask your pharmacist to recommend a child-friendly, but bad-tasting product that you can apply to the soother. Pretty soon, you might find that your little one has set aside her soother and has begun to forget all about it.


- Use Praise and Encouragement

Whenever your little one asks for her soother, or goes looking for it, encourage them to try go without it. When they do, praise them with words like: ‘you’re such a big girl now.’ or ‘we’re so proud of you’. By positively reinforcing those occasions when she decides to forego her soother, she will begin to understand that going without it has benefits.


- Stop Replacing Them

Sooner or later, your child will lose her soother. Although you might be tempted to help them find it - or to replace it with another one - it might be a good idea to let it stay lost. Some parents have found this to be an easier way to let your child give up her soother, rather than taking it away. Chances are, within a week or two, she will realise she never needed it in the first place.