Ditching That Dummy! Yes or No?
Updated: Feb 17
One of the things I often get asked about is when the right time is to get rid of a little ones dummy. I advise that up to around 6 months the dummy is a great tool for comfort and settling and if you have started using one, it can help prevent SIDS, but after this time it can sometimes become more of a hindrance than a help.
It’s also really important that little ones don’t use a dummy for too long, as this can affect their teeth and their speech later on. Ideally it is best to remove a dummy by around 1yr of age.
If you find that you are having to keep popping the dummy back in your little one’s mouth whilst they are asleep to stop them from waking, or replacing it because they have woken and need to suck on it to go back to sleep between every sleep cycle, then this may be a good indicator that it’s time to move away from using one.
I would always advise not replacing a dummy once your little one has fallen asleep and it has fallen out, so they don’t become too reliant on constantly having it there to suck on. It is also ideal to only use a dummy for settling to sleep, (not during awake time) and some parents are able to gently remove the dummy once their little one has calmed down and dozed off.
Of course there is no pressure to take it away from your child unless you are ready to, it certainly can be a useful tool in your night time parenting box, to get more sleep! However do remember, in very young babies, a dummy shouldn’t be used as a substitute for a feed, as it is still age appropriate for young babies to wake through the night for feeds.
One suggestion if you’re not quite ready to stop using a dummy just yet, is to ensure there are plenty in the cot for your little one to find, and to also help them practice popping it in themselves, by placing a dummy in their hand and guiding it to their mouth, to encourage them to try to do this independently. Most babies manage to do this between around 7-10 months.
A good tip once you have decided to remove the dummy, is to try not to replace it with an alternative habit. Depending on your little one’s sleep routine and needs, they may need extra comforting during the transition away from having a dummy. Keeping a familiar sleep routine in place is really important as consistency is comforting to them and helps reassure them to know that nothing else is changing.
You’ll be relieved to know that it’s usually much easier than most parents think, to take a dummy away. It typically takes around 2-3 nights to crack if you go ‘cold turkey’ and then your little one won’t even remember they had one! If you want to take things slower, you can start by only letting your little one have the dummy for settling but not sleeping, but for many babies this can be confusing and can take much longer, so most parents choose to just remove it and offer additional comfort through the transition.
For older infants and toddlers who still have a dummy, they also will need extra comfort, emotional support and cuddles too, to help them transition to no dummy, which they may be very attached to. There are many tips and tricks that you can try to help prepare them for saying goodbye.
My first recommendation is to read to them and talk about giving up their dummy. There are numerous books available about giving up the dummy. Popular publications include ‘’The Last Noo Noo’’ by Jill Murphy, ‘’Florrie The Dummy Fairy’’ by Anthony J. Crosbie and The Little Princess Story ‘’I Want My Dummy’’ by Tony Ross, which are all great! There are lots of books and stories out there that you can do a simple online search for.
Other options include creating a scenario where you can leave their dummies for a fairy, post them in the Post Box to the ‘dummy fairy’ (and perhaps receive a thank you postcard back!), give them to a friends new born baby, or leave them for Santa at Christmas in return for a stocking or present.
You need to find what works best for you and your little one, but once you decide to do it, stick with it and stay consistent, you will do just fine! If you’d like to discuss this further, please contact me and book a discovery call by contacting me.