How (and why) to get rid of the dummy

My daughter is 15 months old, and has used a dummy for the majority of her little life. Recently, my husband and I decided enough was enough. The dummy had to go! Here’s why.

This is my little one at bed time. What you can’t see from this photo is that she was late to bed because we couldn’t find the dummy anywhere. Nearly 2 hours late. Her reliance on the dummy to get to sleep had got to a point that just felt ridiculous. She was usually a good sleeper (with the dummy, of course). I know that lots of little ones sleep with teddies etc and they are used for comfort, but if you read my previous posts on household plastic usage , you’ll know that we try to keep our usage to a minimum, so I was anxious to find a way to get her to sleep without a piece of plastic in her mouth! We also had issues with night waking (think four or five times a night of waking up because the dummy wasn’t right in front of her face).

Our reasons for getting rid of it were a little more than that, too. We recently discovered that long term dummy usage can affect the muscles of the mouth, which can cause the tongue to sit forward between the teeth and affect their position. This could potentially cause speech issues. Experts recommend limiting dummy usage by age 2 and eliminating it completely by the age of 4 to minimise risk of dental issues.

There is also an interesting study conducted by the University of Washington which proposes that using a dummy for too long can increase the risk of speech disorders. Little ones who use a dummy or suck on their fingers after age 3 were found to be three times more likely to have speech problems. This study is 10 years old, but still, food for thought.

Given this, and the fact that my monkey is trying to say new words every day, we decided to bite the bullet and kick the dummy to the curb.

How to get rid of the dummy

There is no right way to get rid of the dummy. What works for one family might not work for another. Here’s what the experts say:

It’s important to remember that most little people use the dummy as a source of comfort. Don’t try to remove the dummy while going through large, unsettling life events like having another baby, moving house etc.

As a newborn, little ones will use the dummy to self settle. However at 4/5 months, sleep patterns can change and so this could be a good time to get rid.

The best thing to do is to begin to limit dummy use to ONLY bed times. We started by letting our daughter use the dummy in the pram for nap time and in her bed for sleep. She lunged for it for a while in the day time if she saw it and it wasn’t time to sleep, but she soon got the message.

Another popular idea is to cut a hole in the tip of the dummy. Once the dummy is broken, many toddlers lose the urge to use the dummy as it can’t be sucked on anymore and is no longer satisfying.

You can also try and swap the dummy for another comfort object like a favourite soft toy or blanket. Lots of parents like to tell their kids things like ‘Santa’ or the ‘Easter Bunny’ needs their dummy, but we decided before our daughter was born that we wouldn’t intentionally lie to her over things like that, so that option was out for us.

If your little one is old enough to communicate effectively, try explaining that they are big enough now to not need the dummy to sleep. Dummies are for babies. This will make lots of toddlers indignant as they are a big girl/boy, and suddenly the dummy becomes much less appealing.

OR you can do what we did. We ‘accidentally on purpose’ left the dummy at Nona’s house in another town, so that we couldn’t give in and give the dummy back on a bad night. The most important thing you can do when giving up the dummy is to stay strong and not give in. The initial few nights could be a bit hairy, but will probably settle down soon after.

And that’s it! There are so many different (and imaginative) ways I’ve read on how to get rid of the dummy, but honestly what worked for us was just to bite the bullet, pull ourselves together and just get rid of the nasty thing.

Have you successfully weaned a little person off a dummy? Are you having trouble? Let us know!

Paige Piper

Mum, musician, artist, professional sick kid.

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