A pacifier serves a purpose, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a consensus among parents as to what that could be. Let me help you, infants are born with a natural need to suck. It’s how they learn to self-soothe, and it’s what allows them to nurse right away. A pacifier helps to meet this need.
A pacifier is a useful item in the beginning when infants are still learning to calm themselves. As they get a little older, 6 months or so, they begin to self-soothe in other ways. Guess what? The infant won’t need the pacifier as much. Take advantage of the opportunity to step back from pacifier reliance.
Slowly limit use to difficult transition times only, like bedtime. Also, stop bringing pacifiers out and about with you anymore. Tell your child it’s just for bedtime, and if they forget about it, that’s ok.
Depending on your child’s temperament, I would recommend removing all pacifiers from your child’s life by 18 months. At this point, they just don’t need it.
I know this sounds harsh, but the sooner the better in my experience. Speech, teeth, and self-regulation are all affected by the use (and overuse) of a pacifier at this point. Infants and toddlers also learn social cues by mimicking expressions of others. They can’t do that if they’re “plugged in”.
So prepare for a couple of grumpy nights, maybe more depending on your child, and toss out those pacifiers. You’ll be surprised how quickly your toddler gets over it, and you’ll be grateful not to be the parent of the 5 year old who is still using one!
*please keep in mind there are exceptions to every “rule”*
Developmental age and chronological age are not always in sync, and some children are under more stress than others. Use your judgement and help meet the needs (not necessarily wants) of your child in your own way.