How to Ditch the Dummy

Time to give up the dummy

Some babies have had a dummy since birth. This may have provided comfort to help with reflux, settling to sleep or to pacify a ‘sucky’ baby between feeds. Others may have taken to a dummy a few months into their short little lives. Whatever the reason, a time will come when a dummy is no longer a practical accessory.

The challenge ahead may seem simple at first however, may babies and indeed toddlers become very attached to their dummies, some rely on them for comfort throughout the day, others may need them during naps or at bedtime and throughout the night. Many babies and young toddlers love their dummies and use them as comforters to help them settle and sleep. There are a number of approaches that you may want to consider. The important thing is to take your child’s personality into account and use an approach that your child can relate to.

Below are a list of ideas that can help you to wean your baby or toddler off the dummy and move towards independent living. You may also want to do a simple swap where you ask your child to pop all their dummies into a box, you then take that box and exchange it for a toy or gift of their choice.

The most popular approaches often involve the use of a favourite character. For boys and girls, the dummy fairy is a favourite. On the other hand, you may wish to involve a favourite toy character or holiday figure such as Santa, the Easter bunny, or a hungry Halloween pumpkin ready to have the dummies popped into its gaping mouth. There are lots of fun ways to involve your child in the process.

Start off by explaining to your child that there is no longer a need for a dummy and the dummy fairy, or favourite character will be collecting it and taking it to a magical place where baby fairies or animals are in need. You can make this process as fun and exciting as you like.

Build up to the event over a week or so, reminding your child that on a particular day, the dummy will be given up. Another idea could be to leave it out over night or post it through the letter box in an envelope addressed to the appointed dummy fairy or chosen character. You can then let your little one do the deed by posting the envelope through the letter box or leaving it out at night before bedtime with a little note. You can then return the following day to show them the evidence such as some glitter sprinkled where the dummy was left or a little return letter from their favourite character thanking them for the dummy. If you wish, this could also include a new toy or gift left in exchange.

Below are some more detailed suggestions for each approach, it can be an idea to make it as personal to your child as possible, use these ideas as a guide and create your own dummy giving experience.

The dummy fairy

As with all the techniques, build up to a point where you have told your baby or child that the dummy fairy will be visiting. A week should be enough time to send them the message that the dummy will soon be gone but that the really exciting bit is still to come.

You may wish to create a little fairy door that you can stick on the wall close to the floor in your child’s room or an area of your home that lends itself to the process. Place the dummy in a box or ask your child to help you wrap it up for the dummy fairy. Leave it outside the little door with a note and explain to your child that at some point during the night, the dummy fairy will pop out of the door, take the dummy and leave something in return. This can be a rather exciting prospect for a young child. The whole concept creates a magical atmosphere providing the perfect motivation to relinquish the dummy and reward their efforts in return.

In the morning, your child can wake to the gift or note and the vision of glitter or ‘fairy dust’ perhaps with some little foot prints left behind to affirm the visit. You can talk to your child about the dummy fairy’s visit and perhaps if required, leave another note from the dummy fairy the following morning again to reassure your child that they no longer need their dummy and that the dummy fairy is so happy to see that they are being a big girl or boy no longer needing a dummy.

Babies in need

If your child has a sibling or one on the way, this can be a great way to facilitate the separation. You can explain that dummies are only for babies and that it would be very kind if your child could give their dummy to the new baby or a baby they know. Your child can then gift wrap the dummy and present it to the new baby. If you don’t have any younger babies in the house, ask a friend or speak to your child’s carer or nursery worker about the concept and how they could help you to achieve the goal.

Father Christmas is coming!

With Christmas approaching, Santa or his elves may be about, ready to collect your little ones dummy on Christmas Eve. You may wish to hang them on your Christmas tree or leave them out with a snack and drink for the big man and his helpers. A letter of thanks or small gift from Santa or his elves will reinforce the experience and create a little distraction after the fact.

Some parents cut the tops off their child's dummies or pierced a hole in the teats. Others made a slit in the end so that once the child found the dummy was 'broken' they soon lost interest.

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