Pacifiers, dummies, binkies, the list of names goes on!
Babies are born with a natural instinct to suck, triggering their calming reflex and soothing their nervous system. So, they can be a great prop to introduce after breast feeding has been established with your baby (usually around 4-6 weeks), especially when it comes to settling your baby to sleep initially and encouraging longer stretches of sleep. Prior to around 4 months old, your little one won’t have the neurological ability to do this independently.
As well as being an awesome calming tool, dummies can be a great option for stretching time between feeds if you have a little one who likes to be on the breast ALOT, or deciphering whether your baby is actually hungry or just a bit fussy. Offer the dummy and if it settles them for a while, great. If they spit it back out after a min or two, it could be time for a feed.
Research also suggests that the use of a dummy reduces the chance of SIDs.
How to Introduce it?
Babies won’t always take to the dummy straight away; it can take a bit of work. You may need to shop around to find a dummy that your baby actually likes. You also might need to do a bit of reverse psychology to teach your little one how to hold their dummy in their mouth. When your baby is calm pop the dummy in their mouth, and once they start to suck gently pull the dummy a bit (but not completely out of their mouth), they will naturally suck harder to resist it being pulled out. Repeat this a few times.
Is it Time to Ditch the Dummy?
If you have chosen to introduce a dummy with your baby, it is going to be a lot easier to wean them off it before they hit about 5-6 months old. Once they reach this age they will have started to develop an emotional attachment and it will be a lot harder on them. I don’t usually recommend my clients ditch after around 6 months.
Prior to that, it should only take a couple of days for your little one to get used to sleeping without it.
0-4 Months: If you choose to ditch the dummy at this age, the best approach is cold turkey. You can stop offering the dummy at bed time and settle your baby using a hands-on method.
4-6 Months: Your baby won’t be capable of finding and replacing their own dummy yet, so this is still a really good age to ditch the dummy cold turkey, before it becomes a sleep association for your little one. You can stop offering the dummy at bed time and either introduce another sleep association or use an age-appropriate settling method to teach your little to self-settle.
6 Months – Toddler: As I mentioned above, if your little one still has their dummy at this age it has now become an emotional attachment for them and I would be recommending you teach them to find and replace their own dummy, rather than getting rid of it, until they are much older.
Toddler: Once your toddler has developed some language and is old enough to understand, you can use strategies like gifting their dummy to babies in the hospital or the dummy fairy coming in the night, to ditch the dummy. Make sure you discuss this with your toddler in the days leading up so they are aware of what is going to happen and when. Make it fun and involve them in the process too! And most importantly, once the dummy is gone it is gone for good! Stay consistent and after a couple of hard nights you’ll be done!
Find and Replace:
For the first couple of days, pop your little one’s dummy in their hand and gently guide their hand to their mouth.
Move to putting their dummy in their hand and letting them put the dummy in their own mouth.
Once they have nailed that, move to patting the mattress where the dummy is to encourage them to pick it up and pop in in their mouth themselves.
If you need more support ditching the dummy or teaching your little one to find and replace, check out my sleep packages here. If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about what support I can offer you and your family, fill out this contact form or book your free, 15min chat with me here.