When our babies need comforting, the dummy is usually a popular first point of call!
Dummies certainly have their benefits. They are great ways to help babies self-soothe in distress and they help them sleep well, as they feel more secure.
Not only does it provide instant relief and joy to our little ones, but also for parents and carers. In fact, it’s quite common for households to keep a stash of dummies lying around on standby! But, if babies grow into preschoolers and are still sucking their dummies, you may want to consider getting rid of their beloved comforter. Read on for our advice on how to make this process as painless as possible.
When Should You Ditch the Dummy?
There is no wrong or right time to ditch the dummy, as it varies for each baby. Some experts suggest if you wean them off before 12 months, it’s less likely your child will develop a long-term attachment. But in the case of toddlers, it’s recommended to think about dummy weaning between 18 months to two years of age. By this time, children can be very attached to it and tend to use it for longer periods outside of their sleep time. It’s also an ideal time to try and stop the dummy once a child is weaned and potty trained.
Why Is It Good To Ditch The Dummy?
Medical research has suggested that frequent dummy use can cause a number of health and developmental problems. Consistent sucking promotes fluid collection in the ears, which can lead to ear infections. This can be a particular issue if your toddler is getting ear infections.
It can also affect early language skills, and cause dental issues for developing teeth. Studies suggest after the age of two, prolonged dummy use may cause top or bottom teeth to slant or tilt. Issues can worsen if a dummy is still used after four years, as that’s when permanent teeth start to erupt which could lead to potential long-term damage to adult teeth.
But we know that weaning our little ones off their dummy is easier said than done! It can often be a huge challenge, especially for those who rely heavily on them. Here are some helpful (and creative) tips on how to wean a baby off a dummy and ditch the habit for good.
Go Dummy Cold Turkey
This method is a hot topic amongst parents, but usually works a treat. Firmly take the dummy away and don’t give in! This will be an anxious time for many, so you’d still need to explain what is going to happen on ‘dummy day’ to emotionally prepare your child. Let them know a few days before you’re going to take away their beloved dummy, so they’re aware. This can be challenging for both little one and parents, and there may be some tears and tantrums at first. But if you stand your ground, a child will usually forget about their dummy in a few weeks.
Donate To The Dummy Fairy
Kids love the concept of the ‘tooth fairy’ coming to visit. So why not adapt it to the ‘dummy fairy’ approach instead? Explain to your child that as they are growing into a ‘big girl/boy now’, the dummy fairy wants to reward them by taking away their dummy. Simply gather all their dummies around the home, and let your child place them by their bedside at night. If you want to make it more exciting, you can wrap it up nicely and label it to the dummy fairy. When they wake up in the morning they will find their dummies gone, (collected by the dummy fairy), and replaced with a lovely gift!
Phase Out The Pacifier
If cold turkey seems too drastic for you, you could try the traditional weaning or phasing out method. Begin by setting limitations on when and where it can be used. So you could say it can’t be used after a certain time, or not in the living room for example. Or you could only give it at nap-time and bedtimes, and then after a week or so, stop giving it during naps. Bedtimes can be a little tricky as that’s usually the time when they need it the most. But you could try removing it from the cot or bed completely once your little one has spat it out and is fast asleep. You set your own rules, and hopefully, over time your child will realise they won’t need it so much.
Make Dummy Art Or Hang On A Tree
If your child loves arts and crafts, then they won’t mind doing this fun activity. Gather up all their dummies and create a dummy mobile or perhaps a colourful collage. These can be decorated and kids can be creative as they like, turning their beloved dummies into wonderful animals. An alternative is to hang the dummies on a tree outside in the garden as décor. But don’t forget to get rid of them once the novelty wears off!
Offer Other Comforts
If your little one is attached to their dummy, taking it away can be extremely upsetting. It’s not uncommon for dummy withdrawal to cause tantrums, especially at nap or bedtime. Alternatives like extra bedtime cuddles and reassurance can help soothe your child. Perhaps they can choose a new toy that can provide the same comfort at night, or you can introduce a new storybook or audiobook routine to settle them. A relaxing sleep music playlist can also aid them to sleep without having to rely on their dummy.
'Lose' The Dummy!
You know the saying, ‘out of sight, out of mind’? Well, in this case, gather up all their dummy collection and get rid of once and for all! If you don’t want to bin them all, keep them in a safe place to hide temptation. If your little one searches endlessly and begs for it, simply tell them they are ‘lost’. Keep them distracted by other fun things to see, do or play with. Fingers crossed they will eventually forget about it.
The main thing is not to stress or panic. It is a gradual process for both you and your child, so don’t worry if all your attempts prove unsuccessful at first. Hang on in there, have bags of patience, and give it all the time it needs. Soon enough your child will be able to live happily ever after without their dummy!
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