Written by Jana Angeles 

Known for its soothing qualities, the dummy has been your secret weapon when it comes to giving yourself a decent night’s sleep. Now that your child is growing older, it’s easy to feel concerned whether or not they’ll give the dummy up. Though it’s a little embarrassing to have your toddler still use it as a source to put themselves to sleep or for a quick cheer up, there are plenty of ways to finally give the dummy up once and for all.

Being creative can really bring out the best in motherhood. Reported by the Brisbane Times, Sunshine Coast Mother, Grete Bensen came up with a clever idea for her little boy to give up the dummy. Paving way for a strong farewell, she decided to place the dummy on a toy boat, leaving it to float away down the creek. Emma Jensen managed to stumble upon the toy boat, reading the letter attached to it saying: “This dummy belongs to Joe Bensen. He no longer needs the dummy anymore because he is a big boy. The dummy is floating away for a new baby.”

Parents will find anything for their child to give up the dummy. There are downsides when it comes to using the dummy for too long. These include:

  • It prevents your child from breastfeeding properly especially if they’ve been using it in the first 4-6 weeks of life.
  • They have a higher risk of contracting respiratory and middle ear infections.
  • Babies are more likely to depend on the dummy especially when it comes to sleeping.
  • It could lead to a higher chance for your child to have dental problems further into childhood. And mind you, the costs can go through the roof!
  • The crying will not stop if they’re taken away. Dummies act as a soother for babies, especially when they become very upset.
  • A dummy is a huge deal for a baby so misplacing or losing it can be a total nightmare.

It’s recommended that you gradually take away the frequent use of the dummy when your child is 8 months of age. Even with the downsides, there are also a number of benefits when using the dummy which include:

  • Sucking on a dummy can be a great strategy when it comes to keeping them settled.
  • Using a dummy when they sleep or when it’s nap time reduces their risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
  • They create a soothing effect on babies, keeping them calm and harmonious.

People come up with brilliant ideas and these can turn into innovative inventions made just for parents. An American mum managed to be one of the lucky ones as her paediatric dentist, Dr. Alene D’Alesio created the concept of ‘The Lily Method’. This resulted in five colour-coded dummies which gradually reduce in size, decreasing the satisfaction for kids and easing the transition to a dummy-free life. “By the last daughter, she was off at step three. It became a non-issue in our house. Potty training became more difficult,” Alene said. This is currently sold at approximately $30 AUD but that’s without shipping (and knowing US international shipping rates, they don’t come cheap!).

Rest assured, there are several other ways in which you can help your child ease off the dummy. This can be a cheaper alternative to ‘The Lily Method’.

Here are a couple of things you should try if you are on the verge of throwing in the towel!

    • Get rid of the dummy early. Doctors have recommended that children should stop using their dummies at a young age. It’s much easier for your child to give up their dummy when their 8 months old compared to if they were 3 years of age. The earlier the better!
    • You have the power. Take it away. As a parent, you have the power and control to take away things from your child. Although it’s hard to see your child upset, looking at you with those “puppy eyes”, you have to be smart when it comes to negotiating with them. There’s no point yelling and getting angry at them. A good strategy would be is to tell them, “You’re a big boy/girl now. Only babies use dummies.”
    • Make the dummy taste gross. You probably know already that nail-biters apply something unpleasant to stop them from biting. Same concept can be used for dummies. Go to your local pharmacist today and ask if there is a safe, bad-tasting product that can be applied to the dummy. It may work wonders for you! 
    • “Give it away.” Get rid of the dummy and tell your child you’ll be giving it away. You can also mention that the “dummy-fairy” will collect it and in return they can get any present they want. The present will act as a perfect incentive!
    • Gradually take it away. Use the dummy only when your child is sleeping or during nap time. This will make the transition much easier if they use the dummy during specific times.
    • Be evil. Poke a tiny hole in it. You can alter the dummy by poking an invisible hole in the tip of it. This can make your child dissatisfied with the dummy and may give it up if they find it’s no use to them anymore. Safety note: Please take care of altering the dummy and supervise your child when using it. It may pose as a choking hazard if not altered properly.
    • “Lose” it. Pretend to lose the dummy. Act as if there’s nothing you can do about it. Whoops.
    • Story time! There’s actually book titles on giving up the dummy. We recommend ‘Bea Gives Up Her Dummy’ by Jenny Album. Reading stories on giving up the dummy can inspire and encourage your child to do the same.
    • Be natural. Let them give it up themselves. Some parents prefer this method, and that’s totally fine. Your child can eventually learn to give it up themselves, and it may be more rewarding as a parent for you to witness that.

The dummy can be the enemy but as parents, we can remind ourselves how resilient and persistent we can be when it comes to doing the right things for our kids. Just remember that if nothing seems to work, there’s always a brand new day waiting around the corner. If it doesn’t happen today, try again tomorrow. You’ve got nothing to lose!