Tips on Helping Your Child Ditch the Dummy
During the early months of newborn life, dummies can be a godsend. Whether your baby had colic or just couldn’t seem to settle, there’s nothing sweeter than seeing them finally calm down once they start sucking on a dummy. Even though the dummy is such a helpful tool, there comes a time when all children need to drop the dummy for good.
This can be a scary time for parents who have relied on dummies to get some more sleep or just ease the chaos of the early years. To help you through this transition, here is our guide to ditching the dummy, including some of our top strategies that will ease your baby into the dummy-free life.
When should I wean my child off of dummies?
Once your baby starts walking and talking, you may start to question if you should let go of the beloved dummy. Most professionals will advise parents to drop the dummy as your baby turns one to avoid any speech or dental issues later on.
However, this is often easier said than done, leading some parents to allow their child to continue with the dummy into toddlerhood. The older your toddler gets, they will develop more of an emotional attachment with their dummy, but this doesn’t mean you need to let the dummy stick around. The sooner you intervene, the easier it will be on your child to let go.
When to NOT drop the dummy
Timing can be crucial when it comes to dropping the dummy. Since dummies are comfort items, taking them away during high-stress times in your child’s life can make the process much harder for everyone involved. A few examples of when you should probably not start taking the dummy away include:
- When your child is starting day care
- When a new sibling arrives
- When they are moving rooms or the family is moving into a new home
- When the child is ill
Our top dummy-ditching strategies
Parents often come to the decision to stop using dummies when their baby constantly loses it in the night, the dummy causes too many middle ear infections, or their toddler is reaching the age where they probably just don’t need it anymore. To help you transition to the dummy-free life, here are our top dummy-ditching strategies.
Go cold turkey
Quitting dummies cold turkey is a brave strategy that could end up working just fine for your family. For babies under one year of age, this is actually one of the more common strategies. As long as you’re ready for a couple of rough nights while you teach your baby to self-soothe, quitting cold turkey could be a quick strategy for letting go.
Gradually use the dummy less and less
For those who try going cold turkey and have a harder time, gradually using the dummy less and less may work better. Start by taking the dummy away one nap at a time over a course of a week or so, but continue allowing it at bedtime. Once they stop using it at naptime during the day, they’ll realise they can get to sleep without it, so it should transition into nighttime as well.
Replace the dummy with another comfort item
Another common way of getting rid of dummies is by replacing it with another comfort item. If your child is old enough, you can introduce a soft toy or blanket at naptime or bedtime to hopefully distract them from wanting the dummy. Eventually, this item should replace the dummy completely.
Don’t give your child the dummy, make them find it
If your toddler is walking around and constantly dropping their dummy, simply stop picking it up and giving it back to them. This way, each time your toddler wants their dummy, they’ll have to find it themselves, which overtime could be too much effort for them. It could help to remove all but one dummy from the house to make the task a bit more difficult.
Snip the ends of the dummy
Gradually snipping the ends of a dummy further and further down over the course of 1 or 2 weeks is another strategy some parents rave about. Before you try this strategy, make sure that you have dummies that won’t break apart if you cut them, as this could be a choking hazard. Once the dummy is cut down, it doesn’t provide any suction, so your child should lose interest.
Bring in the dummy fairy
For toddlers with active imaginations, introducing them to the dummy fairy could be your cold-turkey solution. The dummy fairy works like a tooth fairy where the fairy comes to collect all the dummies and leave a special gift in their place. Just be sure to start talking about the dummy fairy a few days beforehand to generate excitement and prepare them. There are plenty of ways to introduce the dummy fairy, but here are some of our favourite:
- Scattering them in the backyard: Round up all of the dummies in your house and let your toddler scatter them in the backyard for the dummy fairy to come collect. The next morning, replace the dummies with special treats or gifts from the dummy fairy for your child to run outside and collect (similar to Easter egg hunts)
- Mailing them: Have your toddler gather all of their dummies and place them in the mailbox. The next morning, replace the dummies with a note from the dummy fairy, thanking your toddler for their dummies.
The most important thing to remember while you try to wean your child off of dummies is that while it can be a challenging time, the day will come where your child will forget all about the dummy. We hope that by following the above tips and tricks, your family becomes dummy-free in no time!