How To Separate Your Child From Their Dummy
One of the many tricky choices that new parents are faced with is whether or not to introduce a dummy. Whether it’s through fear of being judged by others or concerns over how you will ever manage to eliminate said dummy later, many of us have deep-seated trepidation over the idea of using one.
However, many parents will admit that despite being totally against the idea initially, they have succumbed when faced with a fretful sobbing baby who just won’t sleep without the comfort of the sucking motion. In fact, for those parents with a very unsettled newborn, a dummy can swiftly become a sanity saver!
Fortunately, there is good news for anyone who is stressing over their use of a dummy because the majority of paediatric experts agree that they are an entirely appropriate method for soothing a baby. And for those parents who are still concerned over how to eventually separate their child from their dummy, fear not because we have some tried and tested methods.
Firstly, there are two ages when it can be fairly easy to wean your little one from their dummy.
Around 6 Months Of Age
Until the age of six months, your baby will be using the dummy to self-settle. If your child is a fairly settled baby and sleeps well at this age you can probably ditch the dummy early. Here’s how:
- Stop offering the dummy at all when they are awake.
- For a few days (around 4 – 5) only offer the dummy just as your baby is about to fall asleep. Once he/she is asleep gently remove it.
- If baby wakes up within the next couple of hours use the dummy until they relax and sleep again then repeat the removal.
- However, if baby wakes after five hours don’t be tempted to reoffer the dummy. The chances are at this point he/she would need a feed rather than soothing.
- During this period encourage your baby to use a different type of soother to help them sleep such as a teddy. This item will gradually replace the dummy as a sleep time soother.
- Once the baby is happy to snuggle the replacement, go cold turkey and completely ditch the dummy. Don’t be tempted to reintroduce because of a couple of days of unsettled behaviour. If you stick with it your baby will soon be accepting the alternative soother.
During Toddler Years
For some little ones, a dummy can be a useful tool well into the toddler years and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. However, usage should be confined to bedtime rather than a permanent fixture if you want to begin to wean them from the dummy. Here are a few tips:
- Ideally, your toddler should only use his dummy when he/she is in bed. Once you have decided it’s time to ditch the dummy you will need to stick to this regime.
- If they feel the need to be soothed during the day place them in their cot for a short period. The best way to manage this restriction is to attach the dummy to the cot sheet with a dummy clip.
- The next step is to explain to your little one why they don’t need the dummy anymore. Explain that they are now a big boy/girl and big children don’t have dummies.
- Choose a date as the final dummy day and set up the scene for ‘donating’ the dummy to a worthy recipient. This could be Santa or the Easter bunny, etc. You can wrap the dummy up together in a nice parcel and ‘post’ it off to the new owner.
- Once the dummy has been donated you will need to be firm. You could consider offering an alternative soothing device such as a small cuddly toy or blanket.
- Some parents prefer not to weave stories for their children. In this instance, it could be worth trying an alternative method. Simply cut a hole in the teat of the dummy to reduce the ability to suck on it thus making it far less appealing. Many children lose the urge to use the dummy once it appears broken.
- Whichever method you try, you will need to be patient and supportive to your child during the initial period, whilst also remaining clear and firm that the dummy is no longer an option.
- One final word of warning, however. It would be better to choose a dummy ditching time when there are no other existing disruptions or upheavals. If you are about to move house or have another child you may find it simpler to find a more practical moment because it’s likely that your toddler will need extra comfort during those stressful times.
Ditching the dummy is certainly not the easiest of tasks for many parents but if you stand firm, be calm, patient and kind you will eventually have a settled – dummy free child!