This is a bit of a each to their own topic as I don't believe there is a right or wrong age to ditch the dummy. I have had a few mummas ask me for ideas of how to get rid of it and the best age so I thought I would share my opinion and experience for any of you looking for some solutions.
Why did I feel my kids need a dummy? Good question ;) I have always taught Kindy Year One ages (4-7) and after six years pre-kids of watching half my class suck their thumbs I decided I didn't want my kids to do that. There are all kinds of arguments about teeth overbites and not growing straight but looking at my kids they are all fine and I am sure it is a minor generalisation. My kids were all going to be thumb suckers and I knew this because most of my scans showed my bubbas chilling in my tummy sucking their thumb. Yep not happening. I knew it was going to be way easier losing a dummy than a thumb.
Let's look at age first of all. Now again this is my opinion and if it is not in line with yours that is totally fine. No one is wrong or right here. Each child is different and more importantly each mumma has their capacity of when it is worth a child settling without a dummy. I have always been a lover of the dummy and all of mine had one. Eva didn't even really take one properly until about four weeks but considering how often she screamed the house down I was persistent in making sure she had it. So I pretty much introduced a dummy from the moment I struggled settling my bubbas without one. Jack started having his from about four weeks when I started stretching out his night feeds. I fed him more often during the day and gave him a dummy at night to resettle him if he woke up within a six hour stretch. Eva was given hers about an hour after she came out of me. Her crying was enough to freak any first time mum out in the neighbouring hospital rooms and she was also kind of freaking me out as well. Franklin was a little different if you read his birth story a few weeks ago and the ICU gave him a dummy, which was fine with me, I was just eager to take him home to change the brand.
While my three munchkins all took one a little differently, I kept the same rules for the next couple of years. Newborn to One year, mine had their dummy chained to them and could have it when they wanted. I did this for a couple of reasons. Firstly so they could learn to put it back in themselves. My kids were all able to settle themselves at night from very early onwards by putting their own dummy back in. We taught them to use their hand to follow the little dummy chain to their dummy. This also helped with not getting up every five minutes to put it back in for them as well as spending half an hour patting the cot and floor to find it. Secondly the dummy is a great teething tool and my kids went to town on their dummies during teething times. It was a good indicator to me that they were teething and I didn't have to worry about introducing teething toys. Instead of keeping teething rings in the freezer, I put their dummies in. Finally, having a dummy hooked on a dummy chain meant that I wasn't forever picking dummies up off shopping centre floors and having the honour of sucking it clean which makes me feel sick thinking about, or racing to a bathroom to wash it. The dummy got a good soaking in boiled water until I stopped caring to do that. Actually I don't think I did it at all with Franklin and I stopped doing it for Eva at two weeks when I found Jack brushing her gums with his toothbrush. It's all immune building right? And I'm not a cotton ball wrapping type of mumma. This brings me to one to two plus years old where I began the very slow process of taking the dummy away for parts of the day to phase it out. Now I spend a good 18 months doing this because they are still teething and come with a whole new set of settling issues like separation and the joyous tantrums. By two years old I am working my way towards saying goodbye to the dummy in a few months time and starting to use the dummy for sleep, long car rides and when I have lost my patience. My kids get a good four months heads up of this is going to be happening before ditch the dummy day comes and by two and a half (approximately) we are dummy free!
So how did I do it?
Ditching Jacks - We used the good old popular garbage truck to get rid of Jack's dummy. He loved running to the door to wave to the truck as it picked up our rubbish so we went with that and talked about how when he was a really big boy he could throw his dummy into the bin to give to the garbage truck. Sure enough one Saturday morning, Jack came into our room and said 'dummy in bin, I really big boy now.' The dummy went into the bin and we made the BIGGEST deal about it too. There wasn't just a small clap and cheer. We danced and jumped around and yelled through the house and filled him with every treat we saw that day. We knew what was going to happen when he went to bed that night so made sure that he had plenty of reminders during the day that his dummy was gone because he was such a big boy and he had so many treats. He went to bed fine surprising us but woke up and cried for a good hour before he finished grieving his dummy and we never heard about it again. Done and dusted!
Ditching Eva's - Well miss Eva Diva didn't care for the garbage truck so that was never going to work. With permission, I used my friend's idea she used on her kids and it worked a treat. Jack only ever had one dummy so by the time it came for him to throw it out, we literally threw out the one dummy. Eva relied on hers so much we had one in every corner of the house, car and handbag just in case we lost one. The not so fun part was turning the house, car and bag upside down to make sure we had found them all. We had one chance with this idea and I didn't want to ruin it because I wasn't sure what else was going to work and Santa had already gone back to t he North pole. After a quick trip to spotlight to buy a little pink organza bag, we put all of her dummies in it ready for the shops. With her eight dummies, we took Eva to Target to pick out something that she wanted. She chose a Cinderella Toddler Doll and before taking her to the counter we explained that she had to pay for it with her dummies and they wouldn't be coming back. She couldn't have cared less as she was so excited for the doll. Thankfully we had the loveliest lady serve us who I subtly whispered what we were doing. She made it such an honour and called all the cashiers over the clap for Eva. Eva couldn't wipe the smile off her face as the cashier said 'that will be eight dummies please' and handed her the bag. Done and Dusted round two!
Ditching Franklin's - So this is an interesting challenge and I say is because I'm still building up the courage to do it ha! He's not two and a half yet so I have time but oh my gosh I have been a shocker with this one. School runs, sitting in the pram watching sports and all kinds of lessons for Jack and Eva, I just can't bare the thought of it but I promise you it's happening. He is more obsessed with the dummy than the other two were so I am dreading the nightmare this may be. On the flip side I am more determined to be rid of it because he is getting more obsessed with it. One tiny cry and boom, I need my dummy now! I have just got to the 'dummy for bed and during pram time' and have a few ideas up my sleeve for ditching it altogether. I'm not waiting for Santa and the Easter bunny came a bit too early for me so I caved on that idea. However he has recently taken a liking to cuddling his Peppa and George Pig teddies and either carries a Monster Truck or Thomas the Tank Character so thinking I could fill his bed with all these toys to make the switch. My challenge for the next two weeks is to bring his toys and the Ipad out with us and use them as distractions instead of the dummy. Once I have that mastered I will wait until he is slightly ready as I don't trust he will ever be and get him to give up his dummy with a lot of encouragement.... otherwise known as bribery!
Whatever idea you choose do what will work for your child and when you are ready. Some say they wait until their child is ready as I did with Jack, which is fine. It's all about making life easy for you especially if you are juggling more than one or life is overflowing with a million different things going on. There are times like when I lost my Dad that Jack had his dummy all the time. He was too little to communicate how he was feeling but probably watching me grieve was enough to need some kind of comfort that he was getting from me. Franklin spends his day form car to pram with way less attention than what the others had at his age when I could be home all day so while I'm still working that out he obviously takes comfort in his dummy and that's ok. There is no one rule and don't listen to people's judgements and opinions because you just need to do right by your child and no one else. Franklin looks like he's at least four years old so you can imagine the looks and comments I get from nosey people and I couldn't care less. They have no idea what's going on in our life or have the right to say anything anyway so don't stress about it.
If you would like to talk about this with me feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can help support you or give you some ideas on what you can do if you are a bit stuck on this one.
© The Realistic Mum
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