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How to Stop Pacifier Use

Pacifiers, Blankets, Bottles, and Thumbs:
What Every Parent Should Know About Starting and Stopping

By Mark L. Brenner - Reviewed by Carmen Benton

Pacifiers, Blankets, Bottles, and Thumbs:What Every Parent Should Know About Starting and Stopping

As I looked at my thumb sucking, blankie touting nearly 3 year old I began to wonder is it time that I tried and phased these two habits out? Thankfully I didn't have to add to this list how to stop pacifier use but I know this is a huge issue for some of my sons wee friends!

I turned to Mark Brenner's book Pacifiers, Blankets, Bottles, and Thumbs to help answer my question. In this book Brenner describes these as transitional objects or the first 'not me' possessions of an infant.

He notes that any personal possession can act as a transitional object and "that learning to use one is an important experience for a child as he tries to increase independence and mastery (p.3)." What's more that they allow a child to "understand and practice developing human relationships in terms of empathy, loyalty, and competency (p.4)."


The second chapter of this book highlights the need for children and indeed all of us to have a secure base as this is what helps us to have healthy attachments.

Rather than dishing out a list of shoulds regarding your child's use of their pacifier or bottle this book helps to educate parents on the importance of these objects in your child's lives. Of course there is a need to keep these attachments healthy, and as we all know there will come a time when we will need to help our children grow on from these attachments.

Pacifiers, Blankets, Bottles, and Thumbs will give you a good understanding of why these are so important to your child and will give you an informative guide to helping them detach from them. It is a guide on how to stop pacifier use as well as the other transitional objects.

I gave my son his 'cuddly' when he was 7 months old and he became very attached to it quickly. It is a polar fleece Taggies which had satin tags for him to rub. It is an excellent 'blanket' for a baby if you are considering one.

His thumb sucking started at a matter of 6 weeks old and by 7 months was his method of choice to falling asleep. I have often felt quite envious of the way these things give him such comfort. I know that the times in his life when I have not been with him, such as when he started nursery, the cuddly was the ultimate stand in for him and helped to ease the anxiety he was feeling.


But when should I be phasing them out? Brenner suggests:

Pacifier, bottle or thumb use should not be extended beyond the first twenty months (p.84).

For those of you like me who think this would be impossible Brenner does give practical ideas on how to do just that. When describing how to stop the thumb sucking habit he describes the 'around the clock method' and for how to stop pacifier use he describes a 'three day method'.

As part of both methods Brenner highly recommends reading a book to your child that involves a character having to give up their pacifier, thumb or bottle.


As I read the book I was able to take away a sense of pride that my child had a healthy attachment to his blanket and thumb and that an end day would be in sight when I would have a plan to follow to help him move on from them. I felt Brenner's approach was caring and loving and yet firm and very possible. He does not promote taking the objects away from the child cold turkey yet instead encourages you to get your child on board with the process.

I learnt a lot about attachments from this book and was interested to begin to see my son's TV watching as an unhealthy attachment. I could even see where we have attachments as adults!

I highly recommend this book for all parents of children attached to either a pacifier, blanket, bottle or thumb as it really will help you to understand about starting and stopping these objects.

Review by:
Carmen Benton - editor of Baby Books - Baby Books is a comprehensive web site filled with excellent reviews and recommendations of books and resources for parents and books for the under 3's. A highly recommended site.

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