So of my 3 children 2 have had dummies, well actually my 3rd child still has her dummy. When my first was born I assumed that she would have a dummy but well she would not take it and trust me I tried. Then as she got older I saw it as a blessing that she didn’t take the dummy one less thing to pack. I didn’t have to worry about having to take it off her. Then my 2nd daughter was born and we thought well it was so good without a dummy with our first we won’t give one her either. However she had other plans. She was not a great sleeper and I remember when she was around 6 weeks old my Mum said suggested to trying a dummy. I reluctantly gave her one and well the second it went into her mouth she was hooked. I had never seen a baby suck a dummy like she did. On her 2nd birthday without too much fuss she decided to give her dummy to her new baby cousin and that was that she never asked for it again. Then our 3rd came along. To be honest I cannot remember when we gave her the dummy or really why, poor 3rd baby but she loves it. Our 3rd is almost 2 and I am not so sure she is going to give the dummy up so easy, time will tell. Dummies definitely have pros and cons. They are great at calming our little ones. Those months before they can learn to find it themselves and put it back in in the middle of the night are the hardest. Then once they can replace it themselves it gets good again until it is time to give it up for good.
Pros and Cons?
So why use a dummy in the first place, well they are amazing for helping to calm a newborn. For a newborn sucking lowers their heart rate and will calm them. If you have a unsettled newborn a dummy can be amazing. If you continue to use a dummy after the newborn stage it can become a deep rooted sleep association. They will rely on the dummy to help them settle to sleep. This means that your little one may wake at every sleep cycle needing you to replace the dummy for them. During the night you could be up too many times to count. If you decide to remove the dummy early on around 12 weeks is a good time. Their is 2 ways you can do it. First option go cold turkey just stop using it, you will have a couple of hard days then it should improve. The second option is use only for settling and remove before they fall asleep. If you use it for settling you use it to calm them down then remove once they are calm. In my experience cold turkey is the best option.
Teaching Them to Replace it Themselves
If you decide to keep the dummy once your baby is older than 7 months you can teach them to source it themselves. You can do this over a week doing each step for 2-3 days:
- Firstly put the dummy in their hand and help them guide it to their mouth.
- Second step put it in their hand and allow them to put it in their mouth themselves.
- Then finally during the night when they wake instead of putting the dummy in their mouth put it next to them. Tap the mattress to help them find it themselves.
Once they can replace it themselves you shouldn’t need to get up as much and help them. There are some sleep aids you can try. Sleepytot hold multiple dummies or get a square of muslin and tie a dummy to each corner. This makes the dummies easier to find overnight.
Getting Rid of the Dummy with Toddlers
Majority of children will stop using the dummy between 2-4 years. Some parents will wait until the child is ready to stop using it. If you decide to allow the child to stop in their own time I recommend you put boundaries around when they can have it. For example they can only have it at bed time. If a child is allowed to have a dummy all of the time it can impact on their speech and on their teeth.
The other option is to remove the dummy. To do this I first recommend you put boundaries around its use like above only having it at bed time. Then set a date to when it goes. Talk to your child about this as it gets closer than on the day when it is gone celebrate make a big deal about it. It can also be really helpful have a transition comforter. You could take your child to the shop to pick a toy they could take to bed instead. The most important part is once the day comes do not give the dummy back. It is likely your child will get upset at bed time but stay consistent and support them through this change.
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