Family Matters: Weaning Baby off that Dummy

Baby with dummyDo you – or did you – give your baby a dummy to keep them quiet? Was it something you swore you were never going to do? But the crying starts and the promise you made yourself to always tend to your child’s every need becomes a distant memory as you just need a little peace and quiet….in the dummy goes, peace at last!

The next task however, is to separate baby from the dummy because they have now become dependent on it and the two are inseparable. The thought and act of depriving baby from the dummy can also be a major task but the sooner you do it the better, as no parent wants their child starting school with a dummy in their mouth.

There’s no rule book to parenting, and there are no rules to this weaning process but the Feeling Fab team have set out below a few tips that may help you along the way to a successful separation.

1. Find out why the dummy has become so important

You need to work out what the dummy is for, what it’s providing your child with. If it’s used as a sleep aid, then maybe something to replace the dummy at bedtime like a blanket or a brand new toy – babies love new objects – may help. Something new may remove the need for the dependency on the dummy and will shift the concentration at bed time.

2. Prepare a time to start the dummy detox

Imagine what foods you would be trying to avoid if you were detoxing. It’s highly unlikely that you would leave those foods lying around to tempt you. Collect the dummies (if there’s more than one), hide them in a safe place and set a date to start the process. Start the distraction process and hopefully out of sight will eventually mean out of mind.

3. Don’t keep putting it off

The earlier you remove the dummy the better, and baby will become less dependent on it.  From a year onwards baby’s personality will be stronger, and may even be stubborn towards change, so the decision making will definitely have an impact. Those cries get louder as well after 12 months!

4. Take a gentle approach…

Quick removal may be quite a shock so try reducing the amount of time that the dummy is in use especially if baby is awake and doesn’t really require it. Over time baby will learn to cope without it.

5. …or take a harsh approach!

If you can handle the cries (and if you can also “read” baby’s cries), then going cold turkey may work for you.  Deprivation over a period of time may present the realisation that change has occurred.

Change the system of “sleep triggers”

Sleep expert Andrea Grace suggests being a little more rigid with the bedtime routine and the trigger will perform a similar function to the dummy. Stay at baby’s bedside to give reassurance of comfort until they fall asleep and then gradually withdraw your presence until you are no longer required.

The main thing is not to stress yourself out. Babies pick up adult feelings and you’ll pass that stress on. This shouldn’t be a pressurised function, and baby shouldn’t be made to feel as if they’ve done something wrong in wanting the dummy, and if at first you don’t succeed, take a little time, calm done and try the process again.

And remember most of all and most importantly, if the first attempt doesn’t work, it isn’t a reflection on your parenting skills. You’ll get there!