Tips on Weaning Baby off their Dummy
Weaning your baby off their dummy is much easier said than done. With our son we tried and failed a few times. So I have put together some simple suggestions to make the transition a bit smoother.
See my previous post on The Dummy Debate for more information on dummy use and why we used one for our children.
Understanding the dummy’s role…
This will depend on why you have given your baby a dummy. Is it a cue for your baby to go to sleep? Do you use it to comfort you baby?
Try to find a suitable replacement such as a toy or cuddle blanket and if you use it as a bed time cue renew your focus on the bed time routine.
For us, our son used it as a method to comfort himself, he would have it in all day and all night and hated giving it up. He developed a bit of an obsession with them. He would have one in his mouth and then carry one or two around with him. He even had a stash in the play room and his bedroom! We really had to find another way for him to soothe himself, and this was probably the hardest part of weaning him off the dummy.
Eventually we found that one toy he really liked and gradually started giving him the toy rather than the dummy when he needed to soothe himself.
Timing is key, the earlier you take the dummy away the easier weaning will be. Experts recommend that dummies should be taken away the majority of the time by their first birthday. Again easier said than done as babies become increasingly strong willed and adverse to change.
There are a couple of things you can try, such as cold turkey, rewards for not having a dummy for the whole morning etc.
We took the dummy away from him in the day at about 16 months old. It was very hard to start with, the first few days being the worst, he literally had a tantrum whenever he asked for it and I said he couldn’t have it. We gave him the toy he loved and told him he had this in the day now.
To start with we allowed him to have it at night still. We tried on many occasions to take the dummy away from him at night, but failed. At 2 years old we decided that enough was enough, it was making his mouth sore and he would be constantly dribbling over night. We decided to go cold turkey on it, for the first few nights he cried and we had to go in and explain to him that he no longer needed a dummy as only babies have dummies. On the third night he asked for it but didn’t cry, and after that night he no longer asked for it. I really wish we had tried cold turkey on it earlier!
Out of sight out of mind, this will work well if you also combine distraction methods, which can include toys, going out for a walk, singing, dancing, films to name just a few!
While trying to wean our son off his dummy we also had to wean our (at the time) 6 month old off hers in the day too. Only, because he would steal her dummy! This was a plus for us in a way because our daughter now 14 months only has hers at bedtime.
Out of sight out of mind really worked. Although we did have to go round the house and look for the ones he had stashed!
The gentle approach, gradually reduce the amount of time your baby/toddler has the dummy each day. For example try only giving a dummy at nap times and find another way to soothe your baby when they become frustrated or cry.
The gentle approach worked in the day, we gradually took it away until he didn’t even realise he was no longer having it in the day. Night time was a different story, and the only option we were left with was to go cold turkey on it. All babies and toddlers are different though, you just have to go with what works for you, just try everything until something clicks.
The Dummy fairy, this works if your child is over 2 years and can understand reasoning a little better. Tell them that if they sleep without a dummy the dummy fairy comes and takes the dummy away while they are sleeping and replaces it with a fun toy!
A friend suggested this to me but I think our son was too young to understand at that time, but I can see how this would work if you little one is about 2 and a half.
Ditch the dummy at bedtime, you can use a bedtime story, soft toy to settle and aid reassurance at bed time. Rethink the bedtime routine and do this gradually, try other techniques of settling and soothing, if this doesn’t work first time give them their dummy and try again the next night.
We really did have to rethink our bedtime routine with him. Once we had taken the dummy away it was no longer a case of cuddle, kiss and lay in the bed and he falls straight to sleep. Ohhhh no, he would have howled the house down, and on the first couple of nights he did.
This is when we introduced a bedtime story and gradually allowed him to have some quiet toys in his room. A couple of months on and we now read him a bedtime story, kiss, cuddle, say good night and then leave the room. He plays with his toys for an hour and then goes to sleep.
Do not stress, these tips may not work first time or the time after, there is no pressure, your baby/toddler will give their dummy up eventually.
I hope this helps, I really found it useful to hear other parents advice on how to wean their little ones off the dummy.