Love them or loathe them, dummies or pacifiers, provide a major source of comfort to babies and toddlers alike. But at some inevitable point, we will need to face the seemly impossible mission of how to wean our little angels off them.
Why do children need to give up the dummy anyway?
There are some major advantages of using dummies (which I will cover in another blog post) but some of the reasons why you may want your toddler to give up their dummy are:
1) Using dummies after the age of 3 may increase the chances of your child’s teeth growing out of alignment
2) Speech and language therapists advice that using a dummy regularly after a child reaches 1 may impact the child’s speech this is because a child will not learn to exercise the correct muscles in the mouth with the dummy being present
3) Babies can also be affected because they are less likely to practice “baby babbling” with a dummy in the mouth. This may lead to delays in talking.
4) Some children may develop increased middle ear infections by using a dummy as bacteria from the mouth may travel up the narrow tubes to their ears and throat.
How I weaned my toddler from his dummy.
My toddler was 2 and a half when I was successful in weaning him completely off his dummy or “dum dum” as it became known as. So how did I do it? Well, there are two schools of thought when it comes to breaking any habit. 1 – go cold turkey, chuck all the dummies in the bin and deal with the repercussions OR take the more gentle approach.
If you’re like me and not keen on the cold turkey option this is what we did:
Step 1: Limit when and where your little one can have their dummy. We agreed only in the car on a long journey and in his cot. When he got out of the car/cot he would hand it back to us.
Step 2: We then stopped giving him his dummy in the car. Let’s just say he didn’t entirely appreciate this move from us and he did protest but we used distractions (like snacks in the car, playing games, singing etc) and he soon got used to not expecting a dummy in the car.
Step 3: The final step is essentially a little bit of good old-fashioned bribery mixed in with copious amounts of praise. At this point, your toddler will only be having a dummy in their cot. We then found a new toy that our toddler really wanted. We explained that the toy, a new Thomas train track, was for older, bigger boys, who didn’t have dummies anymore. After repeating this everytime we looked at the toy I eventually said that if he wanted the train track all he had to do was put all his dummies in the bin.
The next morning he put the dummies in the bin and we went off and bought the new train track. That day we kept reiterating to him that he was such a good boy for putting his dummies in the bin. That night he did ask for the dummies back but we explained that he had given them up for the lovely new train track and we found that by talking about his exciting new train track and all the fun we had with it worked as a good distraction. He did get upset and there were a few tears but we stayed with it and after a couple of nights, he completely forgot about them.
I think the timing of when to wean a child from their dummy is really important. Try not to wean them when big changes are happening, like starting nursery or the arrival of a new sibling, as they may be unsettled and the comfort of their dummy may help them deal with the challenging new situation. If your child is slightly older but not ready to start the weaning process I would recommend getting into the habit of trying to discourage them from talking with their dummy in their mouth. Every time they try and talk to you with their dummy in their mouth just ask them to take the dummy out and repeat whatever they were saying.
I hope that this has given you some helpful tips to use. Please feel free to leave a comment below sharing your advice on dummy weaning or any comments in general, I would love to hear from any readers out there.