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How to remove your toddler's dummy/pacifier?

Posted by Karen Faulkner on
How to remove your toddler's dummy/pacifier?
How should you get rid of the dummy? I'm going to give you a few options on how to remove your toddlers dummy/pacifier. This is a REALLY BIG ONE.

I'm going to tell you a few stories about different dummy situations and some options. Dummies/pacifiers are constants in your toddler's/child's life and they have a special place in their heart. A dummy may have been there for naps since they were a newborn so don't underestimate the importance of it. Dummies are a huge sleep association. Doing it in a cold, sharp, shocking way can be devastating for some children.

Dummies need to be removed by 2 years of age to reduce the risk of dental and speech problems. Read more at these links:

This is a very common scenario with a toddler:

Mum: "Mikey would you like to try to go to bed without your dummy?"
Mikey: "Get. Out."
Mum: "Ok ... I'll take that as a no."

Things to think about

  • It's really important to talk about relinquishing the dummy so it's not such a huge shock when it goes. Try and do this when things are static in your child's life. Try not to remove it around periods of change such as starting daycare, the arrival of a new sibling or moving house. Plan to do this either well in advance or afterwards.
  • Is your child able to understand loss? Being at an age where they have words and can understand what is happening is helpful.
  • Talk about it in positive terms e.g. you're growing up so quickly now and grown up little boys don't need a dummy. It means you can use your words now. Soon you'll be big enough for kindy. Wow!
  • Introduce a comfort toy as an exchange and it needs to be one that your child identifies with, not one you have chosen for them.
  • Having a ceremony may help - garbage truck or having a balloon floating away ceremony, giving it to the hospital for the babies.

This is one mum's approach and it's a really good one. Two thumbs up from me.

"We took a few months setting it up with Joshua. We would talk about it at bedtime, the dummy fairy coming to take the dummies and make them new for the new babies. We told him that one day the dummy fairy would come and that she would leave him a present (but not yet) until he got used to the idea. We asked him what the present might be. A fire engine (he decided). When he felt it was time, we put the dummies in a cute organza bag and hung them by the front door.  He slept fine without it. When he woke up, the fairy had left a fire engine, a cuddly toy (for him to hug if he missed his dummies) and a lovely letter thanking him. It was such a smooth transition. But setting it up for a couple of months gave him time to get used to it."

In Denmark they have a special garden, Frederiksberg Gardens, dedicated to children relinquishing their dummies

How cute is that?  

To make the painful separation easier, they are brought by their parents to this 250-year old park to bestow their treasured companions on the Pacifier Tree. They write really cute stories about their dummies such as 'Dear Dummy, I have loved you so long and you are very special to me. I'm very sad to see you go but I'm a big boy/girl and its time to say goodbye to you!' They get attached to the tree with ribbons and its a special ceremony, almost like a coming of age.

Other good ideas I've heard of involve a ceremony

The garbage truck can be a really good one. A toddler is most often transfixed and excited by the weekly arrival of the garbage truck. Get them to watch what happens to rubbish and introduce the concept a week or two before, maybe even introduce your child to the garbage men and tell them what you're planning to do.

Attaching the dummy to a balloon and letting it float away. Let your child do the letting go and wave goodbye to it. Talk about what is going to happen so your chid is aware what is happening.

A special toy that your child has been talking about for a long time, wrapped up and waiting for them on the doorstep the morning after.

Cutting away at the dummy bit by bit, week by week until there is nothing left for them to attach in their mouths. Start by putting a slit in the dummy and then cut away a few mm's each week. This is the slowly slowly approach.

You will know when they're ready and which approach is best for your little one.

Some further reading below

Members of my Nurture Sleep Program will confirm I've helped them resolve dummy issues and you can get the same support when you join.

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