Q. My baby loves his pacifier. I'm afraid to take it away from him. When it is the ideal time to pull the "plug"?
Pacifier, binkie, plug...call it what you whatever you like. After working with families for 15 years, I think the ideal time to ditch the paci is 6 months. Research shows that pacifiers offer some protection against Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and 90% of SIDS cases occur in babies under 6 months of age. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics actually encourages pacifier use in babies for SIDS prevention.
However, pacifiers are meant to soothe a newborn or young infant whose only strategy to soothe himself is his natural instinct to suck. Babies over 6 months of age are much more capable of settling down and they can be consoled in a variety of other ways.In older babies, the pacifier becomes a crutch (or a mute-button!) and often causes more of a sleep disruption than a binkie-free life. You see, babies form sleep habits and if falling asleep with a pacifier is one of them, they wake up unhappy when it has fallen out. Then, they wake you up and you are unhappy too. Do you really want to be the binkie retriever every 90 minutes throughout the night?
Taking the paci away only becomes more difficult as a child gets older, and remember they have no good reason to continue having it. So, I suggest getting rid of it when there is no longer a need for it and it is easy to do so. It's much harder to take it away from a 1 year old, 2 year old, or a preschooler!
Just do it. I promise it will be easier than you think.