Pacifier Alternatives For Toddlers

Are you trying to the best pacifier alternatives for toddlers?

Then let us help you decide which is best for you and your toddler with our guide to the best alternative to pacifier!

Finding the right pacifier alternative can take a while, especially when it comes to toddlers and something that should soothe them.

But thankfully there are a bunch of pacifier alternatives for toddlers simply so you can try a couple and find the ideal one.

In this guide, we will look at a range of alternatives to pacifiers for toddlers and each has its characteristics.

These may apply to your toddler though some of them may not so you should be open to several types and some you may not have thought of initially.

Finding the right pacifier alternative may take a while but it is worth the time and effort.

And if you love this alternatives to pacifiers guide, make sure to check out our guides on how many pacifiers do I need, do pacifiers expire, and best high chair alternatives.

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Reasons Why Your Child Wants A Pacifier

Getting your child to calm down is a great skill to learn as a parent, it could even ensure they reward you with a better night’s sleep.

A child can quickly become attached to a pacifier after a few months so finding an alternative can prove problematic.

So let’s look at why they want a pacifier!

Nipple Replication

The glaring reason why your child wants a pacifier is a natural one in that it replicates the shape of a nipple.

By filling in for their food source, the pacifier becomes comforting simply because it reminds them of feeding time.


Another reason why your child desires a pacifier is that it is simply comforting for them.

As soon as you take your child out into the big wide world it can seem daunting and having a pacifier can soothe them as something familiar.

Back at home, the pacifier can be used to ensure that your child drifts off to sleep when in their bed and in the dark which can be scary.

Sleep Aid

The pacifier should act as a sleep aid for your child, but also you.

If your child wakes up during the night then having a pacifier at hand can help them get back to sleep.

Even better, it may even stop them from crying which should give you a few more hours of sleep.

Reasons For Providing A Pacifier Alternative

Though it may be time-consuming trying to find an alternative to a pacifier, it is a necessary process for several reasons.

Tooth Formation

While a toddler is growing, their teeth are starting to form so having a pacifier could inhibit that crucial development.

You can imagine that having a pacifier in their mouth for most of the day could force teeth to grow out instead of down as they should do.

Make sure that teeth develop correctly early on as in later life it can prove more difficult and expensive.

Speech Development

A lot of research has gone into the use of a pacifier in later life and there are indications that it can slow speech development.

Around the age of a toddler, your child should be forming words, and having a pacifier in their mouth can be physically limiting for their speech development.

This is also an issue that is likely to get worse the longer it goes on.

Social Appearance

Seeing a toddler with a pacifier could be an indication of poor parenting, especially when you know that it can lead to poor teeth and speech development.

Ensuring that you are not judged by other parents (and the rest of society) can go a long way to feeling more socially secure as a parent and help your child develop properly.

Different Types Of Pacifier Alternatives for Toddlers

Though ten pacifier alternatives have been selected below, the list of potential alternatives is exhaustive.

Hopefully, you do not need to go out and have to buy several expensive items that simply do not work as soon as you try them.

Begin your search with some items that your child can grow into and would require anyway.

This could include several versatile items such as a security blanket or a sippy cup.

1. Security Blanket

One comforting item that any toddler should have is a security blanket, especially one that features their favorite animal.

If it worked for Charlie Brown for so long then it should work for a lot of toddlers yet you may struggle to pries the blanket away from them when you need to wash it.

A security blanket can soothe a toddler and provide the reassurance that a pacifier once did.

Not only does it help keep a toddler warm when in bed or the back of a car, but it can also help them to sleep by providing a sense of security which should make it an ideal option.

Our Top Pick
Hudson Baby Unisex Baby Security Blanket

Made with 100% cozy plush fabric these baby security blankets are nothing short of adorable! They are high quality, come in a variety of colors / animals and optimal for every day use.

06/13/2024 04:03 am GMT

2. Soft Toys

Soft toys should also be thought of as another comforting item that can become a useful alternative to a pacifier.

You can also allow your child to pick the soft toy that they want the most and they should still prove relatively cost-effective for an item that should be durable.

Once you explain to your child that their pacifier will be taken away, the whole process of picking the soft toy as a replacement can be effective on its own.

There should also be a substantial range of toys to choose from and they may be called chew toys or teething toys though ideally they should be made from natural materials such as silicone instead of plastics.

3. White Noise Machine/Shushing

A simple way to soothe a child is to try to recreate the white noise that they would have heard while in the womb.

To try natural shushing, all you need to do is put your mouth near the toddler’s ear and then make a shushing noise.

You could also use a white noise machine as it can soothe a toddler to fall asleep within a few minutes and can reduce the pain that a colicky baby could feel.

The white noise machine can also go some way to block any noises in your household or on the street that could otherwise wake your toddler.

4. Night Light/Night Light Projector

You can make your toddler secure even without putting something in their mouth by having a night light or a night light projector.

If your toddler is old enough then you may even let them pick their favorite night light with a design they want to see before they go to sleep.

In a night light, this may be a favorite animal design or one that they find particularly reassuring to look at such as a cute bear.

Before you opt for a night light projector, it should be easier to let them get used to a night light first as if it proves effective enough you may not need the projector.

If you feel that you need a projector then one projecting the night sky typically works well.

Our Top Pick
Frida Baby 3-in-1 Humidifier with Diffuser and Nightlight

This Frida Baby humidifier is actually 3 devices in 1: humidifier, diffuser and nightlight!

They can be used all together, or individually making the Frida Baby extremely versatile.

It can run for up to 12hours and comes with an auto stop feature when the water tank is empty.

And the mist adjuster goes from gentle mist to tropical rainforest with a twist of the knob.

You can even add Breath Frida Vapor Drops or any aromatherapy-grade essential oil for easier breathing - it covers up to 320 square feet with a 0.5 gallon tank.

06/19/2024 07:03 pm GMT

5. Sippy Cup

Sippy Cup

An alternative to a pacifier that has pretty much stood the test of time is a sippy cup.

Not only should you need one anyway, but a sippy cup can also provide the sucking sensation that a pacifier provides.

Your toddler may need some liquid refreshment during the night and getting them used to a sippy cup could be ideal.

You can try to use the sippy cup early on as an alternative to bottle weaning and breastfeeding.

Once your child is old enough then you can trust them enough to have their sippy cup within reach in their room.

If they use it during the night then chances are that they should be comfortable using it during the day too.

6. Thumb Sucking

Without having to head to the store, you could go for something already available.

Thumb sucking is one substitute you should consider when your child becomes a toddler as it becomes so comforting while they sleep.

By allowing them to self-soothe, this can be a safe option to use with many benefits, not least knowing that it will always be there.

The thumb may be considered a handy alternative to a pacifier yet does come with a few drawbacks.

This includes affecting the growth of your child’s teeth which can become a larger issue over time and does not seem that much different from a pacifier anyway.

Such issues would include speech and language development because having the thumb in the mouth would interfere with how a child forms their words.

The other drawback centers around how you move on from the thumb as it could prove a greater challenge to get your child to give that up than it was to move on from the pacifier initially.

It should be ok for a toddler of around two years old to suck on their thumb yet other pacifier alternatives should be looked into.

If thumb sucking becomes a habit past the age of two then that can become increasingly problematic.

7. Your Clothing

This may sound like a really easy alternative to a pacifier yet may be one of the most effective.

Anything associated with a parent that has spent some time close to their skin should bring your child some comfort.

It can prove a lot easier to provide a favorite t-shirt than getting up at night if they believe that you are there anyway.

Another reason to simply use a piece of your clothing is that it could mean you do not have to get in bed with your toddler which could prove to be a poor routine.

FAQs on Pacifiers for Toddlers

How Do I Wean A Two-Year-Old Off Their Pacifier?

You may not want to be too drastic when weaning your child off their pacifier so start slowly as this is a gradual process.

Begin by gradually cutting the tips off the pacifier and your child will eventually learn that the item is not proving as effective as it once was and they will become dissuaded from using it.

The times that your child uses the pacifier can also be decreased so take it away at naptime and see if you can gradually work up to keeping it away from them at bedtime too.

If the gradual methods fail to provide results as soon as you want then decide to one day remove all of them.

This is the ideal opportunity to present your child with the alternative and (gently) force them to use it instead though you may have to suffer a period of your child going ‘cold turkey’ where they demand their pacifier to be returned, stay strong no matter the pleading or screaming.

To make the decision easier, take them to a toy shop with the pacifiers in a bag and allow your child to pick the replacement.

They may even enjoy the responsibility.

At What Age Should A Toddler Be Off The Pacifier And Onto An Alternative?

Research indicates that a child should be off their pacifier between two and four years of age.

Further evidence comes from The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry which notes that non-nutritive sucking is considered normal for babies.

However, children aged older, including toddlers, are recommended to be weaned from their pacifiers by the age of three years old.

Final Thoughts on Pacifier Alternatives

Finding the correct pacifier alternative for your toddler could simply be a case of trial and error.

You could start with something already available such as one of your favorite t-shirts to comfort your child by smelling you to gently soothe them.

Some expensive items could prove highly effective due to how much research has gone into them including a night light or swing and if they work then it is likely worth the investment if it gives you a better night’s sleep regularly.

alternative to pacifier

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