By Centre for Community Child Health, Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne
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Getting up to replace your baby’s lost dummy at night can be very tiring. But here’s some good news – from around eight months, most babies can learn to manage their own dummies during the night, and you can try to teach your child to do this.

Before you try to change any of your baby’s sleep habits – including sleeping with a dummy during the night – see our article on changing your baby’s sleep pattern. This article provides tips that might help if your baby has developed the habit of needing a dummy to fall asleep, or needs your help to replace the dummy when it falls out during the night.

Using the dummy independently

From eight months of age, most babies can learn to put their own dummy in.

  1. Attach the dummy to your baby’s nightclothes by a chain or ribbon. Do not tie the chain or ribbon around your baby’s neck, or to the cot. The chain or ribbon must measure less than 10 cm.
  2. The chain or ribbon must be less than 10 cm long – any longer and it becomes a strangulation risk. Current research indicates that using an attachment less than 10 cm long is most likely safe, but use your own best judgment about whether you feel comfortable attaching the dummy to your baby’s clothing.
  3. When you put your baby to bed, slide her hand down the chain and onto the dummy. Then guide the dummy into her mouth.
  4. Every time you have to replace the dummy, make sure you slide your baby’s hand down the chain and onto the dummy. Then guide the dummy into her mouth, making sure she keeps a hand on it.

It can take 3-4 nights or longer for babies to learn how to replace the dummy by themselves.

Giving up the dummy

Another option for dealing with your child’s dependence on a dummy is to help your child give up the dummy altogether. You can do this all at once (prepare for some crying!) or phase it out slowly.

One good way to phase the dummy out is to gradually use it less and less when re-settling your baby during the night. For example, give the dummy to your baby every second time he cries in the night on day two, then every third time on day three, and so on.

Try using the dummy less for comforting during the day. This will help this process go faster.

 
 
 
  • Content supplied by Centre for Community Child Health
  • Last updated or reviewed 19-08-2010
  • Acknowledgements

    Adapted from: Centre for Community Child Health (2004). The Infant Sleep Study: Managing sleep problems in babies: A training manual. Royal Children’s Hospital: Melbourne.