Whatever you think of dummies, soothers or pacifiers they are a god send to some parents as they can help babies self-settle especially in the first four or five months. They can be used to provided comfort and help with reflux, settling to sleep at bedtime or, to pacify a ‘sucky’ baby between feeds. It is generally recommended that parents try to wean their baby’s dummy between the ages of six and 12 months. But, this can be easier said than done.
As a parent, you will know which approach will best suit your child. They may need a long transition period to adapt to less usage or, the ‘cold turkey’ approach where you remove their dummy quickly.
If you’re unsure of how start, we’ve a few tips on how to start weaning those soothers away without tears…
- Pick the right time Start to restrict dummy use at around six months old but, ideally dummies should be abandoned completely before your child’s first birthday or, when they are learning to speak. Experts warn that excessive use of a dummy might slow down a child’s language development, as having an object in their mouth makes it harder for them to practice talking. Whereas, dentists say limiting use when your child turns two, and to stop using a dummy altogether before they turn four to avoid future dental problem.
- Ease your child off the habit Start to restrict use by only offering a dummy at certain times, such as at bedtime or when he’s not well. By gradually cutting down on the amount of time your child has access to their dummy gives it them time to adjust to the situation – but, do take it away as soon as they are not using it and keep out of sight.
- Give an alternative Try to give your baby a new source of comfort: a cosy blanket; a new toy to cuddle; lots of hugs or games to play. When you are cutting usage during the night, try incorporating something else into the bedtime routine, such as switching on a nightlight or listening to a bedtime story to compensate for the loss of the dummy and distract them.
We Love: Wally The Whale Light Projector, £25, Zazu at Kidley which projects coloured water drops onto the ceiling while playing calming songs (on a timer) that gently soothes your baby to sleep.
- Reward him for going without Offer treats to younger babies, such as a drink or some juicy grapes. Set up a star chart for older babies and toddlers. Parents today, often leave it for the “dummy fairy” to take away during the night, and then leave a small toy in its place as a reward. It’s best to build up to the event like this over a week or so, reminding your child that on a particular day, the dummy will be given up. There is lots of ideas on how you can this this from ‘posting’ it to the dummy fairy, wrapping it up for them to collect (much like leaving a tooth for the tooth fairy) or, placing it outside a fairy door and replacing with ‘fairy dust’ (glitter) in the morning. Be as creative as you need to be for your child. We have heard of parents trying it to a helium balloon and letting it float away.
Florrie the Dummy Fairy by Anthony J. Crosbie and Rosemarie Gillen, £4.97, Amazon – This book about Florrie who transforms Elliott’s dummy into his very own twinkling star is an effective and fun way of weaning children off their beloved dummies.
The Dummy Fairy by Rasha Radi, £6.99, Amazon – The book follows the story of the Dummy Fairy and her friend Arrneb who collect dummies from children who have outgrown them
- Read all about it. As with most developmental milestones, its often helpful to find a book and read it together. As stories and pictures can help a younger child understand and learn new things in a much simpler way. It may also help you talk to your child about why it’s time to stop using a dummy, like dummies are for babies for example. If they feel involved in the process they will hopefully think its been their decision to ditch the dummy and are more likely to see it through.
The Last Noo-Noo by Jill Murphy – The classic story of a monster who gives up his dummy.
>> Bea Gives Up Her Dummy by Jenny Album and illustrated by Claire Keay – A great story with fun illustrations that can help children kick their dummy habit once and for all.