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Baby Throws Pacifier Out of the Crib

Does your little one play the “pacifier toss” game from the crib, leaving you frustrated and battling yourself about whether or not to go back in and hand it over?

You’re not alone. Many parents have experienced the frustration of their baby repeatedly tossing their pacifier out of the crib. It is not a fun game, so here are some things you can do.

Why Do Babies Throw the Pacifier Out of the Crib?

  • Exploration: Babies are naturally curious little creatures. Tossing objects out of the crib is often their way of exploring cause and effect. They enjoy watching things fall and testing their motor skills by reaching and grabbing.
  • Seeking Attention: Babies are smart cookies, and they quickly learn that tossing the pacifier can grab your attention, especially if you rush in to retrieve it. This behavior can become a fun game of interaction between baby and parent.
  • Discomfort: Sometimes, babies toss the pacifier because they’re uncomfortable or restless. It could be due to a wet diaper, hunger, discomfort from teething, or simply wanting a change in position.

What Can You Do About It?

  1. Provide Multiple Pacifiers: A straightforward solution is to have multiple pacifiers within easy reach in the crib. This way, if your baby tosses one out, there’s always another one nearby. This isn’t foolproof, but sometimes they feel satisfied after tossing one or two out and keeping the rest. 
  2. Don’t Go Get the Pacifier: As tempting as it may be to just go in quickly and give the pacifier back you may be inadvertently “playing the game”. As little ones grow their ability to process cause and effect is a natural part of their development. Play games with them during the day to satisfy the desire to learn this new skill. 

When Is It Time to Get Rid of the Pacifier?

Knowing when to bid farewell to the pacifier is a personal decision for every family, and I get asked about this frequently. However, here are some signs that it might be time to say goodbye:

Developmental Milestones: As your baby grows and reaches developmental milestones like improved self-soothing skills, they may naturally outgrow the need for a pacifier. The families I work with often find that their child uses the pacifier less as we get along in the process. 

Dental Concerns: Prolonged pacifier use can affect dental development, particularly once teeth come in. You may notice the front teeth beginning to protrude or a delay in speech. Consult a pediatric dentist to determine the best course of action.

Sleep Disruptions: If the pacifier becomes a source of sleep disruptions, such as frequent wakings to put it back in, it may not be worth keeping. You can practice your child’s reaching and grabbing skills during the day and use a glow in the dark pacifier to assist them if you’re hesitant to stop using it. 

The pacifier can be emotional for everyone. If your little one prefers it, getting rid of it can feel scary and overwhelming. There is no magic age or way to get rid of the pacifier, but starting with sleep skills is helpful. Be patient with your baby if you say goodbye to the pacifier. It’s a big adjustment. 

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