The dummy was once your saving grace- a magical sucking apparatus proven to comfort, calm and coax your child to sleep.
But, all good things must come to an end, including your child’s dependence on the dummy.
There is no ‘right’ time to ditch the dummy. Some parents like to get rid of it once baby is in a routine and before the dummy becomes a habit. Most parents start the dummy weaning process around the age of two or three.
Ready to spit the dummy?
If it’s time to farewell the dummy and break your child’s addiction once and for all, then here are ten tricks to try.
1. Consider the “WHY”
Okay, before you start Operation Dummy-Be-Gone, it’s a good idea to analyse your little one’s dummy addiction. Your child is probably using it as comfort. Many children need the dummy to help them gain control of their emotions when they are feeling scared, lonely, angry or frustrated.
Think about when your child uses the dummy and be there to provide an alternative method of comfort for these moments. Like a cuddle, light tickles on their arm, a gentle song or a back rub.
2. Give them something else to calm the nervous system
Another reason kids love sucking on the dummy is because it relaxes their nervous system. In addition to offering comfort, you can try sensory items to take the place of the dummy.
Like what? Holding on to something soft or cuddly, sucking on a straw when drinking water, kneading play dough or squeezing a soft toy.
3. Give the dummies away
Who in their right mind would want a bunch of chewed up dummies?
A dummy fairy might. Santa Claus, perhaps? A younger sibling or newborn cousin? Maybe a bunch of baby ducks at the park?
Whoever you decide, set a date and make a plan with your toddler for D-day. You can leave the dummies under his pillow, put them under the tree, post them in the mail or head for an outing to drop them off.
4. Limit before you eliminate
Consider a three-step approach.
- Limit dummy use to sleep times and car rides.
- Limit dummy use to nighttime only.
- Remove dummy at night.
You can choose how long you want to stay on each step – a day, a week, a month. Entirely up to you. You can expect some meltdowns with this approach. And most likely on every step. Have wine and chocolate ready.
5. Poke holes in them
Apparently, if you poke itty bitty holes in your child’s dummy, they lose their magical comforting powers and your child will lose interest in the broken thing. Or, they will cry until you get them a new one.
6. Tie them to the cot
Use a short ribbon and tie the dummies to your little one’s cot or bed. If your child wants to suck, then he will have to remain stationary beside his bed. He may still escape to his room to suck once in a while, but the boredom of standing still to suck will soon outweigh the comfort. Here’s hoping at least! And, if not, at least you’ve come up with a way to keep him quiet AND entertained at the same time.
7. Read all about it
There’s a few great children’s books that tackle this common problem. Check out:
You could also try making you own picture book up using photos of your little one. Many kids respond better to books when they are part of the story.
8. Make them grow
Let them watch their dummies grow into something beautiful! If you have a green thumb, then buy some flower seeds, plant them and place the dummies in the garden underneath the plants.
Make a habit of watering your dummies and watch them blossom into flowers.
9. Use a reward chart
Bribery for the dummy-ditching win!
10. Build a Dummy Bear
Take your little one and the bagful of dummies to a Build a Bear shop. When stuffing the bear, add the dummies to bear’s tummy. Rather than sucking on the dummy, explain to your toddler that he can cuddly his new Dummy Bear instead.
Whatever method you choose, don’t be too hard on your wee one or yourself. Getting rid of the dummy is a tricky thing to do and takes time! Kind of like giving up chocolate. Which isn’t going to happen.
Once the dummy-addiction is over and done with, you may want to consider making the move from cot to big bed. Here’s our top strategies to make the transition easier.