We often hear from parents who are wondering whether or not to give a dummy that they're worried it's just another thing for their baby to 'need' to sleep.
Yep, they will want their dummy every time they snooze but that's OK in the early days. The whole point of a dummy is to give comfort when they haven't figured out how to soothe themselves. But, we get that a toddler wandering around with a dummy in maybe isn't the look you're going for. Like everything, there's a middle ground and the great thing is, it's totally up to you to decide when to take the dummy away and we can help you!
Some advice is to wean them off their dummy before their first Birthday, around 9 months, when they're starting to get emotionally attached to it. However, we've found having a dummy soooo helpful between the ages 1 and 2 for a couple of reasons first, if they start nursery they're likely to get sick, a lot. The dummy gives incredible comfort when they're not feeling great and nothing much helps. Second, this is the year of all.the.teeth. If yours haven't broken any teeth yet, well, good luck. It's often a challenging time for babies (and parents) and the dummy works really well to distract from the intense pain they're in. As this pain is in their mouths a dummy is ideal. The perfect way to soothe, naturally.
OK, so say you're going to go with us and keep the dummy until they're around the age of 2 and a half. By this age, your toddler will be comprehending things really well, even if their speech hasn't yet caught up. You can talk to them and explain what's happening. Here are some of our favourite tips for weaning from the dummy;
- Start by making sure dummies are only for bedtime. We've heard about limiting to 'special times' or kind of complicated timing routines. But just stick to bedtime only, so much easier. Ask your child to put the dummy back in the cot and explain it's for 'bedtime only' and say 'bye bye, see you later'. This makes the little critters feel in control of their new routine, something they thrive on. It might not be easy every time but keep doing it after every nap / wake and they'll get the hang of it.
- We're really big on feelings and if they're upset about not getting their dummy on demand say something like, 'you seem cross not to have your dummy right now, would you like a hug?'. Often this really simple acknowledgement means so much to them and calms them down. They're little people after all and like all of us, just want to feel heard a lot of the time.
- Set a date for when you're going to quit the dummy and chat to them about it, for around a week. No more or they might start to get anxious but enough time to get their head around what's going to happen.
- Create an exciting exit strategy for the dummy, a story revolving around something your child is interested in... like, taking it to the post box for the post person to collect (our daughter is obsessed with posting things - it's a full on activity for a slow afternoon)
So hard at times but tryyyy and keep calm, it might feel tough but remember they always look to you for a guide on reactions. If you're calm it will go a long way in shaping their feelings around saying bye to the dummy.
You'll be fine and remember, when was the last time you saw a teenager with a dummy? It all works out and the soothing a dummy gives while they have one is so worth it.