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Mothering Advice

A Question about Baby Dummy (Pacifier) Use

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Baby Dummy Use

Here is a question from Tasleem asking about weaning her one year old off needing a dummy/pacifier.

Many parents would question the use of a pacifier, while others would respond that using a dummy has been valuable for them. It is always helpful to maintain a tolerant attiude towards aspects of parenting you disagree with. Afterall, we are all different - unique in our own ways and diversity is what makes the world such an exciting place.

Hi Helen,

I have just come across your site and have found it interesting. Would just like to ask you for some advice.

baby dummy I have a one year old who has been taking the dummy since 2 months old. However instead of being less attached to it she has become more attached to it, although I try and use it only for sleeping.

Now she has started to want it during the day, but I only give it to her for short periods and only if she becomes really troublesome. However the main problem is at night. She sleeps with a dummy, and if I try to pull it out before she sleeps she just pops it back in.

She wakes up several times a night crying for the dummy in which case I have to put it back in. This was not a problem before as she could find the dummy on her own but now she has started to move around in her sleep so the dummy is not always in the place she left it.

I have tried giving her a comforter with the dummy to wean her off but it is not working. Please help.


Mothering Advice

Hi there Tasleem,

Thanks for your question.

Yes, the question of how to stop the use of a dummy is an interesting one. I believe breaking the habit of using a dummy for your daughter is best explored as a question about sleep training.

baby dummy

During the day, distraction is a most helpful strategy. Set aside the time to be even more present with her, giving her lots of loving attention while you spend the next few days helping her to self settle without the dummy.

So let's look at the problem of the dummy and night time.

Your daughter (as well as you!) is having disturbed sleep because she is not able to find the dummy when she wakes during the night. Training her to sleep without being reliant on it to settle will take a few nights of consistent effort on your part.

Do read toddler sleep and follow Jamie's toddler sleep training. It's going to be a lot easier to alter this habit now than when your little one is older.

Another piece of mothering advice would be to have some sort of final action with the dummy. For instance, saying goodbye to it and having your daughter leave it somewhere she cannot get it from again.

mothering advice

One mother, who often took her daughter to feed the hungry ducks, had her toddler throw the dummy into the pond so the ducks could have it. Again this requires some clear, simple explanation to your child and participation from her so that she sees and remembers where the dummy has gone. Allow her to express her sadness about it as well.

Talk to her during the day, both telling and showing her clearly what you are intending to do.

For example, "Tonight when you go to sleep, the dummy is not coming to bed with you. Instead you are going to have your comforter to hold. When you wake up you can hold your comforter and go back to sleep until morning".

Tell her this again when you put her down and each time she wakes go in to her and hand her the comforter and explain again.

Remember to be clear, firm and consistent, while remaining very calm and loving.

When she cries out for the dummy, gently remind her that she has the comforter and to go back to sleep until morning. Be gentle, but firm and consistent in placing her back into bed.

It's best to repeat the same actions within the same time frame each time, to maintain a consistent approach.

You may have to repeat this many times over for several nights, but be assured she will settle. Get support for yourself to enable you to stay calm, focussed and consistent.

The trick is to make the decision to get rid of the dummy and then stick to it, even if it takes several nights. Choose your timing wisely.

Toddlers learn really quickly and you will find that the clear, firm, consistent approach works miracles in many other situations too.

Thank you for this valuable question about using a baby dummy.

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