Ditching the Dummy
A lot of mums are very sheepish when they tell me that their toddler or baby uses a dummy for sleep. Often it surprises them though (and it may surprise you) that I am not anti-dummy. I know right?! Baby whisperers known for confiscating and banning dummies! Let me explain... In my experience the mums who feel like they need to ditch the dummy are most often mothers of toddlers 2 to 3 years of age. I find that a lot of mums feel pressured by friends (and mother-in-laws!) to phase it out but feel very anxious and torn because they’re nervous that it may cause a sleep regression. Well, I’m here to say that if your toddler likes to have a dummy in bed, can find her own dummy in the night and doesn’t need it all day long then I don’t agree with your friends or mother-in-law!


I know it’s an oft-repeated chestnut, but how many 10 year olds do you see with dummies? It’s sometimes helpful to remind ourselves that a reliance on dummies is something that will pass and that most children will stop without any adult intervention – sucking dummies doesn’t become a lifelong habit.

That said, if you have your own reasons for phasing your child’s dummy out I have put together a list of a few different techniques to consider. But please: choose your timing well. A period of change or stress may not be the time to eliminate a child’s source of comfort. A new baby, moving house, starting or changing daycare and an illness in the family are all examples of things that can have a effect on a baby or toddler’s ability to handle change.

Take it away early

If you suspect that you wont like having a toddler attached to a dummy then make that decision early and take it away by about 5 months. Most doctors agree that taking the dummy away sooner rather than later is the most effective strategy but for a lot of parents this information may be too late!

Gradual phase out

Introduce acceptable dummy times. Perhaps you could start with the dummy only being allowed when we’re home and then when that is okay move on to the dummy only being allowed in bed. Once your child is coping with longer and longer periods with no dummy you may consider eliminating it altogether and it wont be such a giant leap.

Give it away

Everyone knows The Tooth Fairy, right? Well her cousin The Dummy Fairy can be pretty handy too. Talk to your toddler about leaving her dummies out at night time and how The Dummy Fairy will exchange them for a toy. Another idea is to explain to your child that there are little babies who need dummies and seeing as she’s a big girl now maybe it’s time to give them to the babies. A client and I came up with the idea of taking the dummies to the doctors surgery and surrendering them to the receptionist for her to hand out to new babies – it worked a treat! Be warned though, what seems to your child like a good idea at the time can be quite confronting once it sinks in. You’ll need to be ready to remind them where the dummies went and what the reasons were.

Make it taste bad

Have a chat with your chemist and get a recommendation for a product that you can safely put on the dummy to make it taste foul. You’ve probably heard of people painting stuff onto fingernails to prevent nailbiting, well it’s the same idea with the dummy. Kinda harsh for a little one but could be your ticket to dummy freedom.

Sabotage the dummy

Safety warning: please talk to your GP about using this method before starting. Never leave a child with a sabotaged dummy unsupervised. Safety experts warn against altering a dummy in any way as small pieces could break off and become a choking hazard however plenty of parents report success ditching the dummy through altering it slightly. Talk to your doctor about poking a tiny, almost invisible, hole in the end of the dummy. This will prevent the dummy from giving the child the resistance needed for satisfying sucking and although they will hang on to it for security for a while, they’ll probably soon lose interest as it won’t serve the purpose they want anymore.

Go cold turkey

Eeeek! This can be a scary tactic but ultimately you’re the parent and they are the child so – in theory – you can just say no. Perhaps a birthday could be the marker and you could have an extra special celebration to recognise this coming of age...... a dummy Bar Mitzvah if you will.

Whichever method you choose, the critical point is that you stick to your guns. Having The Dummy Fairy come but then miraculously ‘finding’ one she left behind will only make the journey to dummy freedom more difficult.

If you would like personalised help with any sleep issue for a child, newborn to 5 years, contact Katie Forsythe at The Baby Sleep Co today on 0457 473 725 or click here to send us an email.

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