As a parent, you are best placed to decide on the right time for the dummy to go – it’s your decision.
Sometimes children decide to give up their dummies by themselves. Most often, parents are the ones who decide. Try not to feel rushed or pressured by the reactions of family, other children or even strangers.
Your child is likely to have become very attached to the dummy. Touching and sucking on the dummy will be comforting. Like other attachment objects, dummies can help young children manage everyday stress in their lives.
But there comes a time when the dummy has to go. Your child will probably not find it easy to part with. So if you feel it’s time for the dummy to go, a gradual approach is the fairest and easiest.
When you’re ready to stop or reduce your child’s use of a dummy, the following ideas can help.
- Take some pressure off by reminding yourself that sucking a dummy never becomes a lifelong habit. Many children will stop using a dummy by themselves.
- Choose your timing. A period of change or stress for you or your child might not be a good time to give up.
- Talk to your child about giving up the dummy, if your child is old enough to understand.
- When you and your child are ready, begin by restricting dummy use to certain times and places, such as in the car or cot. This gives your child a chance to get used to being without the dummy.
- Encourage the use of other comforters such as a blanket or teddy, if these are more socially acceptable.
- Once your child is coping for longer periods without the dummy, set a time and date – then take away the dummy.
- Mark the occasion of becoming dummy-free with a celebration or special reward.
- Finally, try not to turn back. No matter how well you have prepared your child for this change, expect some discomfort and some protest.
It might even help to literally lose the dummy (throw them all away, for example). This way, the temptation to turn back is removed. You can be honest (but understanding) with your child when you say you can’t find the dummy.