I find the best time to wean a child off a soother is between 6 and 9 months of age or else wait until your child is 2.5/3 years old. When used for sleeping the soother can be the cause of lots of night awakenings for babies as they don’t have the hand-eye co-ordination to replace the soother for themselves leading some babies to wake multiple times a night looking for it. In this scenario, I feel it is important for them to learn to settle without it as it is greatly inhibiting their sleep quality.
Children can usually find the soother for themselves when they are about 1 year old therefore it no longer disrupts sleep. I find it is best to wait until the child is older and you can explain why you (fairy/santa etc.) is taking the soother away and implement a reward system. I find taking the soother off a child between the age of 1 & 2.5 years too difficult as they don’t understand why it is gone and leads to a lot of heartache and tears all round.
Sleep Without Soother / Dummy
When you take the soother away your child is going to need to learn how to settle in another way. This will take time to learn. Therefore, be prepared for a few long evenings and periods of wakefulness during the night. Always remain calm with your child and empathetic but don’t introduce any habits you may regret later.
Use a very gentle settling technique whereby you are responding to your baby very frequently but don’t replace the soother with a bottle/breast/rocking….. dependency or your help will continually be needed during the night. If you use a gentle consistent response at every wakening you baby will learn how to settle themselves to sleep and resettle during the night without any assistance usually within 1 week.
Your child will need to learn how to wind themselves down and stop thinking about the soother, I find audio books can really help with this or soft gentle music, introduce a few nice breathing exercises with your child if you find he/she just cannot relax. Most of all be very patient and empathetic this is a big step for your child and it will take a little bit of time. Be prepared to be up during the night. Do try to avoid introducing any habits such as staying with your child until he is asleep. Remind your child you will be back to check on him and do check on him every 1-2 minutes until he eventually falls off to sleep. Your child will in a little bit of time with patience and consistency learn how to settle/resettle himself without the soother.