Kerry O’Neill ~ Certified Sleep Nanny Consultant™
How do you know if your little one still needs their dummy?
If you’re reading this then I’m guessing you’re wondering if your baby or toddler still needs the dummy…but how do you know whether it’s a good idea to get rid of it? And how do you go about doing it?
Firstly, let me say, there is nothing wrong with a dummy, if it works for you and your child then that’s great. As we always say here at The Sleep Nanny, it’s only a problem if it’s a problem! Dummies can be great tools to help sooth newborns – suckling, whether that’s with a dummy, a bottle or by breastfeeding, is a natural source of comfort for them. (But it’s worth mentioning here, that until breastfeeding is established, it’s best to avoid introducing a dummy.) And on top of the soothing benefits, dummies have also been shown to reduce the risk of SIDs. So, for little ones under the age of 4-6 months, they can actually be a great thing to use. It is often the case that parents use dummies to help their little one get to sleep, and if that works for you, that’s brilliant! What often happens though, is that the dummy falls out, and when the baby or toddler tries to stay asleep, by linking their sleep cycles together, they look to the dummy for help…
Children over the age of 8-10 months will have developed their pincer grip, and can (although not always) find and replace the dummy; but if you as the parent are having to help them by popping the dummy back in for them to help them get back to sleep, either because they don’t yet have their pincer grip, or you’re finding that they aren’t replacing it, it’s might be time to think about teaching your little one how to fall asleep, and stay asleep without a dummy. Unfortunately it isn’t possible to gradually wean a dummy – when I work with clients whose little
ones have one, it’s most effective to go ‘cold turkey’ and look at how to replace the dummy with another source of comfort; often the parent provides this in the form of their presence, voice and touch, gradually reducing how much is needed, and by introducing something like a teddy or comforter, if they’re old enough.
It can take a few days to adjust, and learn to sleep without the dummy, some take to it quicker than others, but it can happen with the minimum of fuss. And once it does, your little one will have learnt to settle themselves to sleep on their own, and without needing you to do anything for them to stay asleep – meaning that you all sleep soundly, and well.
This video from Lucy is a fantastic overview of what you can do to help your child learn to sleep without a dummy; if you’d like some further help then please do get in touch for a free 15 minute call to understand how I can help.