Parents are often embarrassed to admit their LO uses a dummy. However, any parent who has had a fussy baby knows a dummy can be a life saver. In the early months babies need to suck for comfort – it’s a perfectly normal stage. There has also been some research to suggest that dummies can help prevent SIDS (sudden infant death). A dummy can mean a more content baby and less harrassed parents!
But when and how should baby stop using a dummy? Between 6 – 7 months babies begin to gain comfort from other sources. They are also beginning to babble those all important sounds in readiness for speech. A mouthful of dummy won’t allow baby’s first “dadada”, (yes – it’s nearly always dadada). Or allow them to screech for your attention! Between 6 – 7 months babies can be helped to get used to a transitional object such as a toy or cuddly, by offering them this as comfort before being picked up. This transitional object can be a source of great comfort to cuddle during the night or at nap time.
You can gradually ease baby into using the dummy less by minimising use during the day first before you completely discard the dummy at night. Once you have decided on a “no dummy policy” there is no going back! It normally takes 2 – 3 days for baby to get used to a dummy free lifestyle.
Of course – some babies can happily use dummies for longer without it disrupting their sleep. However, one of the biggest issues we see at Savvy Tot Sleep is the 8 – 9 month old baby who wakes between every sleep cycle to have their dummy re-inserted by a parent. These babies have learned they need to suck to go back to sleep. Which is fine unless you are the parent who has to get up every hour or two! Parent’s are always astounded at how quickly a baby learns to cope without a dummy and quickly realise it was often their fear more than their baby’s. Older babies may take longer, need more distraction from their parent’s to adjust to a dummy free existence. Older babies may be more unsettled but usually no more than 2 – 7 nights.
Older children who night wake for the dummy can be encouraged to give their dummies to another baby. Praise them for being “very kind” and buy something else in it’s place. Dummies can be posted through a letter box, tied to the end of a helium balloon for “the babies in the sky” or simply left for the fairy at the bottom of the garden who will bring LO a present in the morning. Whichever method tickle’s your fancy it’s important to fully involve LO by getting them to wrap up their dummies and pre-warning them a day or two beforehand of the plan. Prolonged dummy use can also interfere with tooth formation causing distorted front teeth. Who want’s that for their child?
So – if you find yourself having to re-insert LO’s dummy several times a night you know it’s time to “ditch that dummy”.