Updated: Sep 22, 2021
How to remove the dummy? When should I remove the dummy? Is my baby's dummy impacting sleep? How do I get rid of my child's dummy? How to remove a dummy from my toddler... the list goes on. These are all common questions I get asked from parents concerned about their baby or toddler using their dummy so let's get into it.
First things first, using a dummy/pacifier is a great tool to soothe your baby especially during those early months. In the UK, the lullaby trust recommends usage of a dummy/pacifier for the first six months to help SID prevention. Find out more info here (Lullaby Trust)
The most common reason for removing the dummy usually falls under two categories; first of all parents are concerned about their toddler's teeth so would like to remove the dummy and second of all parents feel the dummy is causing unnecessary night wakings from constant 're-plugs' therefore it has to go.
In general, I find the earlier you remove the dummy the easier it will be as it gives your child less time to form a deep attachment.
The first step for babies under 12 months is to limit usage during the day so that the dummy is only used during sleep time. Once your little one has become accustomed to not using their dummy during the day you can then begin to wean the dummy from their nights by going cold turkey. I would anticipate your nights to be slightly unsettled for the first few nights but before you know it your little one will forget the dummy exists.
1: Limit usage to sleep time only (for a week or so)
2: Remove the dummy from all sleep times too
3: Find another settling method to help your baby during any night waking
* Once you've set your date to remove the dummy you may find it useful to throw them all out to avoid temptation to reintroduce
For children over 18 months, the removal of the dummy may be slightly difficult as a deep attachment has formed. I would still reduce usage to night time only however you may need to wait until your toddler is old enough to understand why the dummy is no longer needed.
Communication is key here, each morning explain to your toddler the dummy stays in the cot / bed because the dummy is for sleep time. Then ask your toddler to drop the dummy in the cot. This will remove any daytime usage as the dummy will be 'out of sight, out of mind'
Now, as every baby is different, we want to see how attached your toddler is to their dummy. For a nap time or sleep time try put your toddler to sleep without their dummy to asses their reaction. If it's an extreme response then you'll know the attachment is deep BUT if your toddler is calm and content leave them be without the dummy.
If we have established the attachment is strong, you can wait until your toddler is old enough to understand why he or she can no longer have their dummy. This can be explained via books (toddlers love stories) or a simple dummy fairy activity where your toddler gives the dummy away independently.
Also if you're expecting another Child or there is a new baby within your family/friendship group you can build up to your toddler giving their dummy to the new baby because babies need a dummy and big girls/big boys do not. Essentially you'll need to be as creative as you can to help your toddler feel comfortable and confident in giving their dummy away.
Finally, sometimes you do not need to do anything and your baby / toddler will no longer want their dummy to fall asleep. If you experience a bedtime, nap or night waking where your baby or toddler falls back to sleep without their dummy for the very first time it may be a sign they are ready to give up the dummy independently.
For their next sleep (nap or bedtime), settle your child to sleep without bringing the dummy into the cot / bedroom. If your little one falls asleep again without the dummy then you can throw them all away. Your toddler no longer needs their dummy to fall asleep.