The Benefits of a Dummy
Firstly, there is nothing wrong with your baby having a dummy, in fact there are definitely benefits especially when they are under 6 months old.
- It supports their natural reflex to suck and can be a great source of comfort
- Research has shown that it could reduce the risk of SIDS
- Your baby can use the dummy to self sooth and fall asleep
BUT there is a caveat;
If your baby NEEDS the dummy to get back to sleep and needs you to replace it – then the dummy has become a sleep crutch.
This is when the dummy can actually become more of a sleep hinderance, and at this point it needs to be addressed.
If the dummy is staying, here are my tips on best way to use it:
- If your baby has a dummy to fall asleep, once asleep and it drops out – do not replace it for him.
- Teach and encourage your baby to be in control of his dummy – (this will be dependent on age). Once they have mastered the pincher grasp,
- (around 8-10months) they should be able to replace their own dummy. You can encourage this by showing him where it is or temporarily putting it in his hand and then eventually just pointing at it so that he learns that he has to do it himself.
- You can put numerous dummies in their cot, to make it easier for baby to find one.
- If your baby is too young to replace his dummy himself, once it falls out, you leave it out. This does mean he may not go back to sleep as easily as he would with the dummy and you may need to provide alternative comfort such as patting, stroking and shhhing. This may sound daunting and replacing the dummy may feel like the easier option initially, but if you continue to do this, to get your baby back to sleep, then you are reinforcing this as a sleep crutch and you will be doing the ‘dummy run’ all night for many months to come. Get this right now and you will reap the rewards much sooner!
When and how to get rid of the dummy?
The benefits of a dummy for young babies are not so effective once they reach 6-12 months, they start to lose the sucking reflex from 6months and the SIDS risks subside.
When, is a personal decision, though if you feel the dummy is becoming a hinderance, it is time to ditch it! It may be a hindrance with speech, with eating, or with sleep, or could be all of the above.
How do I ditch the dummy?
Unfortunately there is no such thing as weaning the dummy! Though be assured I often find, (and know from my own personal experience) we as parents are more cautious about it, for fear of the repercussions, than the childs actual reactions.
If your child is old enough to understand a nice story, to help them understand why the dummies will no longer be here.
- Fairies are giving the dummies to the new babies.
- Santa or Easter Bunny will swap the dummy for Easter eggs or Christmas present.
- We used ‘Baby Dinosaurs’, as that was what my son was interested in and liked the idea of them swapping his dummy for a little present. ‘The baby dinosaurs left a box with a little gift outside our front door, the morning after he left his dummies for them.’
You can be as creative as you like, just use something that your child is interested and can relate to. It doesn’t need to be sad or dramatic, such as saying goodbye to the dummies, or your watching you put them in the bin. Just make them all disappear and then tell the child calmly and reassuringly. A little gift can be a nice gesture for them being so brave and being such a big boy or girl.
If your child is younger, then you will likely need to give them alternative comfort, such as patting, stroking or a nursery rhyme. An age appropriate, comforter/cuddly for them to have at sleep time can also work well.
You can also get comforters that are attached to the dummy, which means that they still have a familiar comfort object when the dummy goes.
No going back!
Once you have made the decision, get rid of the dummies, put them in the bin, do not be tempted to give them back, as it will only make it harder the next time!
It may take a few days for your child to adjust. Some accept the change faster than others and often the older they are the more difficult it is for them to ‘kick the habit’ but they all get there, and very often in less time than parents expect them to.
Dont delay – you can do it. Let’s conquer the dummy once and for all!
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