How do you know if your child still needs their dummy? Is it a good idea to get rid of it or not? And how do you get rid of it?
This is a common question I hear and one that unfortunately doesn’t have a simple answer!
There is nothing wrong with a dummy as long as it works for you and your child- it’s only a problem, if it’s a problem! Dummies are great tools to help sooth newborns as suckling is a comfort source for them. Although I do need to mention that, until breastfeeding is established, it’s best to avoid dummy use.
Dummies have also been shown to reduce the risk of SIDS for children under 6 months of age. Find out more about this: https://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/safer-sleep-advice/dummies-and-sids/ .
Many parents use dummies to help their children get to sleep, and if this works, it’s brilliant. However, a common problem is that the child relies on the dummy to fall asleep, meaning any night wakings then require the parent to go in to replace the dummy if it falls out. Children aged 8-10 months or older will have developed their pincer grip, normally meaning they can find and replace their dummy by themselves.
However, if you are finding that you still have to repeatedly go in to replace their dummy, it may mean it’s time to teach them how to fall, and stay, asleep without it.
The most effective way to get rid of the dummy is to go ‘cold turkey’ with it. You can then look at ways to replace the comfort they got from the dummy with another source- this is most commonly through the parents’ presence, voice and touch, gradually reducing how much is needed. Older babies may be happy with the new comfort being just a teddy or muslin cloth.
Another option is to practice gradually taking the dummy out just before they finally fall asleep. Over the course of a few days or weeks, you can work on doing this when they are less and less drowsy until they can go down without it at all.
For toddlers, it can really help to explain where the dummies are going so it’s not as much as a shock to the children. Some of the best options are that they are going to the ‘dummy fairy’ or to the hospital for the new babies. I’ve also seen parents go to a ‘Build a bear’ shop and have one of the children’s’ dummies put in with the stuffing so they still feel like they’re going to bed with it!
It can take a few days for your child to adjust and learn how to sleep without their dummy. Some learn this quicker than others but it can always happen with the minimum of fuss. Once it happens, your child will have learnt how to settle themselves to sleep and how to stay asleep, meaning that everyone can get a good night sleep!